The American Chestnut: Restoring the Icon of the Eastern American Forest

With a lot of help, Spadefoot is taking steps forward in the fight to save the American Chestnut.

This week, we teamed up with the staff from Avalon Nature Preserve, along with volunteers from the New York State Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation, a representative from SUNY School of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF), and Birdsfoot Farm to plant 60 new trees!

Why are chestnut tree plantings so crucial? Besides the fact that this native species has a long history of ecological and economic importance, in a nutshell, it is functionally extinct due to being decimated by the introduction of a foreign blight nearly 100 years ago. Without swift action, we are in danger of losing the American Chestnut forever.

Thankfully, there are many organizations, scientists, and groups fighting to restore this American staple, and Spadefoot is proud to be a small piece of this effort through this new “mother orchard” at Avalon Nature Preserve in Stonybrook, New York. 

These trees were hand pollinated and propagated from residual remains of Long Island’s American Chestnuts for the purpose of cross-breeding them with transgenic/blight resistant stock from SUNY ESF when the plant is deregulated by the Federal Government. These future plants will be half Long Island genetics and half blight resistant transgenic stock – and almost 100% American Chestnut!

We at Spadefoot will continue to contribute to the re-establishment process through installations and education. Not only will we keep planting in home gardens and public greenspaces, we will keep spreading the word! Just last month, Spadefoot President Frank Piccininni gave a presentation on the American Chestnut at the 2024 Long Island Natural History Conference.

If you would like to learn more, The American Chestnut Foundation has a great article on the history of the tree, information on their goal to develop a blight-resistant variety, and to restore it to its native range across the eastern United States. There are many more pages detailing available resources and ways to help.

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