American Chestnut Restoration on Surface Mined Sites in Appalachia

Grants and Contracts Details


The majority of the Appalachian coal field lies beneath mix.ed-species, hardwood forests that provide landowners with a very suitable and valuable land use. However, in the past, removal of coal by means of surface mining removed the option of landowners to once again consequently, many times with little end-use value to the landowner. Recently, research has been conducted in the Appalachian area to examine reclamation methods that favor tree production, resulting in legislation being adopted to encourage these favorable reclamation practices. One such program experiencing success is the Forestry Reclamation Approach (FRA), where a species-mix of hardwood trees are planted under favorable growing conditions to provide value once again to the landowner. These wide open areas of land provide desirable environments for tree establishment and growth due to the lack of competing vegetation. One species of particular interest to The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) is the American backcross chestnut that has been developed in the breeding program at Meadowview, Virginia. These American chestnut materials possess resistance to the chestnut blight which destroyed approximately four billion American chestnut trees in the first part of the 20d1 century. The Appalachian coal field is in the heart of the native range of American chestnut, and is a key region with regards to not only the growth, but also the restoration of the species. Therefore, testing American chestnut on surface mined areas is of extreme interest to TACF. However, since few American chestnut have been available for planting in the FRA, little is known regarding the growth, performance, and survivability of chestnut on surface mine sites, nor is much known regarding the ideal substrate for maximum chestnut growth. This project is designed to address these issues on a wide geographic scale across the Appalachian region. American, Chinese, and three levels of American-backcross chestnut will be used in the study. The objectives of the study are to determine: 1) performance and growth of chestnut on formerly surface mined lands, 2) performance and level of disease resistance of backcross chestnuts compared to American and Chinese chestnut parents, and 3) site effects on the performance and growth of chestnut. The proposed research to answer these important questions will involve TACF as the coordinator of the study, working in very close cooperation with research scientist at the University of Kentucky, the University of Tennessee, Ohio University, West Virginia University, Pennsylvania State University, and the University of Maryland who will be involved with the site work on surface mined lands in each of their respective states. TACF also is cooperating with scientists at Virginia Tech in a separate proposal being submitted by them. Results from this study will provide valuable information on the growth, performance, and level of blight resistance of American chestnut on surface mined sites as TACF and the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative (ARRI) move forward with "Operation Springboard 2008: Restoring the American Chestnut on Mined Land in the Appalachians".
Effective start/end date7/1/084/30/10


  • American Chestnut Foundation: $25,000.00


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