Appalachian Laboratory seeks Marylanders to participate in American chestnut restoration project

March 1, 2013

The American chestnut once towered over the forest. Known as the redwood of the East, it dominated the landscape from Maine to Florida until its populations were decimated in the early 1900s by a non-native fungus called chestnut blight. Now, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science's Appalachian Laboratory and the American Chestnut Foundation are working with western Maryland residents to "crack the code" to re-establish American chestnut trees.

On March 9 at 11 a.m., Appalachian Laboratory researchers Dr. Cathlyn StylinskiDr. Katia Engelhardt and Dr. Steve Keller will introduce the “Citizens Restoring American Chestnuts” project, describing the dramatic story of the American chestnut and their importance for healthy forests and streams. They will also outline how western Maryland residents can help reestablish this tree in local forests. This presentation will take place at the Appalachian Laboratory at 301 Braddock Road, Frostburg, MD 21532 and is open to the public. 

The Citizens Restoring American Chestnuts project will work with western Maryland volunteers to plant and monitor pure American chestnut seedlings from four different sources. Funded by the Chesapeake Bay Trust, the project has two goals. It will explore how growth of these seedlings varies with environmental conditions in western Maryland. It will also increase volunteers’ knowledge of native trees and the importance of reforestation to support water quality in Maryland streams and rivers and the Chesapeake Bay.

At the March 9 introductory presentation, the audience will be invited to join this citizen science project. All volunteers must be over 18 years old, but children can participate by partnering with an adult. Volunteers must attend a planting workshop on May 11 or 18 at the Appalachian Laboratory and must plant one to four seedlings on their own property. They will monitor the growth and survival of their trees and input their observations into a National Geographic mapping tool.

Contact the Appalachian Laboratory at 301-689-7134 or with any questions. More information is also available on the project Facebook site, Interested volunteers who can’t attend the March 9 presentation should contact the Appalachian Laboratory to add their name to the team’s mailing list. 

Scientists at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science's Appalachian Laboratory in Frostburg actively study the effects of land-use change on terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems and how human activity may influence their health and sustainability on local, regional and global scales. The scientific results help to unravel the consequences of environmental change, manage natural resources, restore ecosystems, and foster ecological literacy.