Vermont / New Hampshire News

President’s Message Summer 2023

 

I’m reminded of John Steinbeck’s novel “The Winter of Our Discontent.” This year’s field work became “The Summer of Our Discontent.”  We were anticipating Darling-58 deregulation, instead we got a nasty reminder of winter. The hard frost which hit all of New England, set young leaves and early Chestnut flowers back significantly. Deregulation never came. We take no solace in the fact that oak and beech were hit even harder. And then, we got hundred-year flooding in parts of VT.

 

So, during this summer of discontent, we set about salvaging plans made at our April annual meeting in Plymouth NH for a breakout year. To be honest, we weren’t sure deregulation would happen. Our plan was to train members on pollination and do some. We did. The first denuding and bagging training was at the Beaver Brook Association in Hollis, NH, which was followed by pollination training and pollinations made July 19th. Board member, Bill Coder and Chapter member Tim Elliott, among others were involved. Did you catch that – July 19th in southern NH!! VT training started with denuding and bagging in UVM’s permitted Hort Farm in June. Those trees were pollinated mostly with D58, but also some Chinese on one tree.  Ironically northernmost orchards were less affected by the frost, so pollination training and pollinations there were done July 13th, pictured below. When the harvest happens at the Hort Farm this fall, VT Public TV, which filmed the first two steps, will also film the harvest. Then, an episode of “Across the Fence”, will likely highlight TACF efforts. Thanks go out to Board member Ann Hazelrig for arranging it.

 

 

But we’d hoped to use D-58 on many of the trees we’d previously identified from years of location work and those in Germplasm Conservation Orchards (GCO) targeted at our science planning meeting in May. Tim Elliott has coveted a beautiful tree in Dover, NH. No female flowers, but he harvested pollen. Doug McLane’s beautiful coming-of-age GCO in Plymouth NH got hammered by the frost. Insult piled atop injury when a big cherry tree fell right into it and wrecked some beautiful saplings. Hope Yandell’s orchard in Williston, VT also was hammered by frost. At least the gypsy moths left it alone this year! Plans to use bucket truck rentals for pollinations in two sites in NH and two sites in VT were scrapped. We saved a lot of money on them, so the finance report Will Abbott circulated at the end of June looked great. But that wasn’t the plan.

 

Location work continued. We revisited trees Marcus Bradley out planted on logged land in Thetford, VT 25 years ago. They have some blight. But that happens, especially when bears claw the trees open during their quest to get the nuts.  And boy were their marks visible! Marcus and new members, the Patrick Miller’s, took us to some trees on their property overlooking I-91 and the CT River Valley. Wild trees, where did they come from? Tall and healthy, no blight. But too tall, too steep and too hammered by frost to pollinate.

 

Board member Dan Jones led efforts to expand the Windsor Grasslands GCO with another 30 trees: three new sources of ten seedlings each. Holes were dug in advance, supplies were all there, and the Windsor Chestnut Coalition showed up big. So did New England Regional Science Coordinator, Kendra Collins and Bill Daley. We’re getting better at this – half the number of volunteers at last year’s planting did the same amount of planting, mulching and caging in half the time! The celebratory barbecue was good again. And, last year’s seedlings look good, despite soaked conditions. Last year the Windsor Grasslands were bone dry. Jeremy Hodge donated wood chip mulch again. Pictured below is VT/NH Chapter member Hunter Melville putting it to good use!

 

 

Jeremy also band saw-milled the Berlin cache between April and June. The but-log went to cookies, two of which reached the Aiken Forestry Lab at UVM. And three more, along with other lumber from his tree, are bound for landowner, T. Dwight Hobart, who supported all our efforts over the years. Seventeen other logs from Dwight’s and Carol Carbo’s properties in Berlin were sawn to lumber ranging from 8/4 live edge crotch slab, to clear 4/4, some of which is 17” wide.  Jeremy will soon publish the tally. The Berlin work over the years, ending with this salvage, will be documented in an article published in the next issue of Chestnut Magazine.

 

Discontent also came in the form of flooding at Board member Tom Estill’s Mount St. Joseph’s plantings in Rutland, VT which flowered last year. Tom’s trees also got hit with this year’s hard frost. But nothing keeps Tom from his outreach mission. He will get another 36 seedlings for school distribution this week. He never quits.

 

Field efforts have ended, with planned maintenance at the Lake St. Catherine Orchard, including members Dan Brooks, Alice Woods and Kendra’s intern Russell Gomory. Brush cutting, fence post salvaging, and a yearly look at how things are going for the remaining trees from a 2013-2014 planting effort. The orchard will eventually be inoculated for whatever science tells us from the trees’ responses. For seven years, the Lake St. Catherine Park staff did its part last – mowing the orchard. What a pleasure to find it had already been done and the remaining trees looking great! But alas, no bisexual catkins. Frost found them too.

 

National TACF has completed the Documentary film titled “Clear Day Thunder.” Soon we’ll schedule a viewing event, and also a TACF 40th Anniversary Celebration.

 

The next TACF President and CEO, Dr. William Pitt, will take over from Lisa Thompson on July 31, 2023, and oversee the August 4th (virtual- Zoom) Board meeting. The VT/NH Chapter sincerely thanks Lisa for her outstanding leadership that has brought us closer America chestnut restoration.

 

So, enjoy the rest of your summer – even if it was the “Summer of Our Discontent.” Fewer chestnuts will grow, but maybe D-58 will finally be deregulated by next season. We’ll be back at it in the fall with the harvest, a chapter Board meeting and renewed enthusiasm. Keep fingers crossed that we’ll get enough open pollination from this season to support next year’s free nut distribution – and use it to attract more new members!

 

I want to say “thank you” again, to everyone who worked to make this year’s field season happen. We are all volunteers.

 

Evan Fox, President

VT/NH Chapter, TACF

 

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Who's up for a roadtrip? If you live in the New England region there are a couple great opportunities to connect with a state chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation this weekend!

The CT-TACF Chapter will be hosting a table at the Hartford Flower and Garden Show in Hartford, CT Feb 22-25 (tacf.org/event/tacf-at-the-hartford-flower-and-garden-show/)

And the ME-TACF Chapter will be hosting a table at the Cabin Fever Reliever in Brewer, ME on Saturday, Feb 24 (tacf.org/event/cabin-fever-reliever/).

Find more events near you on the TACF Events Calendar! tacf.org/events
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Whos up for a roadtrip? If you live in the New England region there are a couple great opportunities to connect with a state chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation this weekend!

The CT-TACF Chapter will be hosting a table at the Hartford Flower and Garden Show in Hartford, CT Feb 22-25 (https://tacf.org/event/tacf-at-the-hartford-flower-and-garden-show/)

And the ME-TACF Chapter will be hosting a table at the Cabin Fever Reliever in Brewer, ME on Saturday, Feb 24 (https://tacf.org/event/cabin-fever-reliever/). 

Find more events near you on the TACF Events Calendar! https://tacf.org/events

Yes! The 2023 Annual Report of The American Chestnut Foundation is here! We are extremely proud of the accomplishments of TACF volunteers, collaborators, supporters, and staff in our 40th year.

This beautiful report reads more like a magazine and is packed with inspiration, beautiful graphics, and gratitude to the people like you you who made all of this work possible. Sure, we had our share of ups and downs in 2023, but together we're moving forward stronger and filled with optimism. Here's to another great year of progress toward restoring the American chestnut!

View the Annual Report here: tacf.org/about-us/financials/
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2 days ago
The American Chestnut Foundation

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The American chestnut, Castanea dentata, once dominated portions of the eastern U.S. forests. Numbering nearly four billion, the tree was among the largest, tallest, and fastest-growing in these forests. The range extended from Mississippi to southern Ontario and as far northeast as Maine.

In the late 1800’s a deadly blight from Asia was introduced, and in about 50 years, the pathogen, Cryphonectria parasitica, reduced the American chestnut from its huge heights to a tree that now grows mostly as an early-successional-stage shrub.

Despite its demise, the American chestnut is not extinct. The blight cannot kill the underground root system, and stump sprouts grow vigorously in cutover or disturbed sites where there is plenty of sunlight, but inevitably succumb to the blight.

The American Chestnut Foundation is working to develop a blight-resistant American chestnut tree through scientific research and breeding, and to restore the tree to its native range in the eastern United States.

Visit our website tacf.org to learn more about this iconic tree species.
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The American chestnut, Castanea dentata, once dominated portions of the eastern U.S. forests. Numbering nearly four billion, the tree was among the largest, tallest, and fastest-growing in these forests. The range extended from Mississippi to southern Ontario and as far northeast as Maine. 

In the late 1800’s a deadly blight from Asia was introduced, and in about 50 years, the pathogen, Cryphonectria parasitica, reduced the American chestnut from its huge heights to a tree that now grows mostly as an early-successional-stage shrub. 

Despite its demise, the American chestnut is not extinct. The blight cannot kill the underground root system, and stump sprouts grow vigorously in cutover or disturbed sites where there is plenty of sunlight, but inevitably succumb to the blight. 

The American Chestnut Foundation is working to develop a blight-resistant American chestnut tree through scientific research and breeding, and to restore the tree to its native range in the eastern United States. 

Visit our website tacf.org to learn more about this iconic tree species.

19 CommentsComment on Facebook

I hope they are successful. It was a mighty tree.

I planted two hybrid American Chestnuts in southern Minnesota....fingers crossed this spring

I hope they are successful.

Barnwood Builders on TV occasionally comes across a cabin or barn with timber made from the chestnut tree. The wood is beautiful.

I would love to hear an update on the state lands that had a forest fire a few years back in I think Tennessee or North Carolina? The area had many stump sprouts that stay like that because the sunlight can’t get to them to shoot to the sky . Well I would like to know if anyone has been to the forest to see the American chestnut sprouts that should be up above the other slow growing trees that will resprout . Can we get a update please

There were two cut down at the end of our street in NJ. I’m sure the root system could be worked to start new trees

I know of 2 Americans Chestnuts in the Fort Mill SC area. Or I did. My grandfather used to point them out all the time when we were hunting in the woods. But this area has grown up so much I don’t know if they’re there anymore. They were maybe 200 yards off of Sugar Creek down towards the Lancaster/York county line. He would always talk about how many there used to be.

Been reading about American chestnut resurrection for forty years. I just ignore it now.

So when y'all gonna drop 'em on us? I got yard space mapped out for it.

I’ve been waiting my entire adult life for the return of the American Chestnut. Year after year it seems to never get any closer. With genetic science, gene splicing and the like, it seems like it should be right around the corner. I hope I get to live long enough to see that day.

Anyone know how many documented survivors there are?

Any idea when gmo chestnut will be released?

This map is missing a big area of SE Michigan where chestnut historically grew.

Our greatest ecological disaster.

What level of blight resistance has TACF achieved at this point?

When you take into account the enormous economic impact this blight created, pretty sure it was a contributing factor in the great depression. Homesteaders and landowners in a HUGE section of the east coast suddenly lost a MAJOR cash crop in just a few short years, the chestnuts themselves, which were used for both human and livestock consumption, and shipped across the country in railcars. Wildlife of all manner depended on the chestnuts, and they suffered a dramatic decline in numbers because of the blight. Wildlife populations plummeted because of the sudden loss of massive amounts of food. The wood itself was highly prized, being insect and rot resistant. One of the most sought after woods in America, and logged heavily. It is estimated that there were once over 3 BILLION healthy, mature trees before the blight. Now there are just a handful of healthy trees in the entire country.

Before climate change?

It's gone. The passenger pigeon is gone. The economic activity from a century ago is gone. It's done, y'all.

“… Across the Northeast, forests are haunted by the ghosts of American giants. A little more than a century ago, these woods brimmed with American chestnuts—stately Goliaths that could grow as high as 130 feet tall and more than 10 feet wide. Nicknamed “the redwoods of the East,” some 4 billion American chestnuts dotted the United States’ eastern flank, stretching from the misty coasts of Maine down into the thick humidity of Appalachia. …Susan Freinkel noted in her 2009 book, “a perfect tree.” Its wood housed birds and mammals; its leaves infused the soil with minerals; its flowers sated honeybees that would ferry pollen out to nearby trees. In the autumn, its branches would bend under the weight of nubby grape-size nuts. When they dropped to the forest floor, they’d nourish raccoons, bears, turkey, and deer. For generations, Indigenous people feasted on the nuts, split the wood for kindling, and laced the leaves into their medicine. Later on, European settlers, too, introduced the nuts into their recipes and orchards, and eventually learned to incorporate the trees’ sturdy, rot-resistant wood into fence posts, telephone poles, and railroad ties. The chestnut became a tree that could shepherd people “from cradle to grave,” …” www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2023/12/american-chestnut-perfect-tree-restoration/676927/

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And the winner of the 2023 TACF Photo Contest is…… Lily Zeporah!
Many congratulations to Lily for her beautiful winning image titled “Shining Hope.”

Here is the story behind her journey of discovery:

“This special tree was found in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains on Harkening Hill near Bedford, Virginia. I was photographing treehoppers on the branches of a large sapling and suddenly noticed that its oddly shaped leaves were unlike anything I had ever seen. Following a course of events that included research, a return trip, and a flat mailer, samples were sent to Cassie Stark at the Virginia Department of Forestry who verified them to be from a genuine American Chestnut.
My interest and passion for this tree started with my parents, who are also avid outdoor enthusiasts. Hearing stories about the elusive Chestnut and their historic fame made it seem like finding one would be akin to discovering Black Beard's treasure. But even better than musty old gold, finding a young Chestnut tree gives us shining hope for the future of a species trying to survive against the odds.”

Lily will take home a free TACF membership, a bunch of TACF merch, and her image will be featured on the spring issue of Chestnut magazine!

Many thanks to all who participated in TACF's 2023 Photo Contest and keep your eyes peeled for info about the 2024 contest this spring.
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And the winner of the 2023 TACF Photo Contest is…… Lily Zeporah!
Many congratulations to Lily for her beautiful winning image titled “Shining Hope.” 

Here is the story behind her journey of discovery:

“This special tree was found in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains on Harkening Hill near Bedford, Virginia. I was photographing treehoppers on the branches of a large sapling and suddenly noticed that its oddly shaped leaves were unlike anything I had ever seen. Following a course of events that included research, a return trip, and a flat mailer, samples were sent to Cassie Stark at the Virginia Department of Forestry who verified them to be from a genuine American Chestnut. 
My interest and passion for this tree started with my parents, who are also avid outdoor enthusiasts. Hearing stories about the elusive Chestnut and their historic fame made it seem like finding one would be akin to discovering Black Beards treasure. But even better than musty old gold, finding a young Chestnut tree gives us shining hope for the future of a species trying to survive against the odds.”

Lily will take home a free TACF membership, a bunch of TACF merch, and her image will be featured on the spring issue of Chestnut magazine! 

Many thanks to all who participated in TACFs 2023 Photo Contest and keep your eyes peeled for info about the 2024 contest this spring.

2 CommentsComment on Facebook

Beautiful

Congrats Lily, beautiful picture and a very thoughtful, well-written accompanying story!

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