Friday, April 12, 2013
Members of the Blue Ridge Foothills and Lakes chapter of Virginia Master Naturalists are helping to restore American chestnut trees in the area.
Guy Buford of Rocky Mount, Jim Bier of Ferrum, Kathy Scott of Boones Mill and Carl and Linda Boast of Moneta worked along with other volunteers to plant blight-resistant chestnut saplings in the Jefferson National Forest.
The planted seedlings are the result of more than 25 years of controlled breeding for blight resistance. This is one of a relatively small number of plantings of its kind being used to test the viability of TACF breeding stock. TACF staff will come back periodically to track their progress. This planting could serve as a cornerstone for the restoration of the American chestnut at that general location.
When these trees start to produce nuts, as early as three to five years old, they will be an important source of hard mast (food) for many kinds of wildlife.
BRFAL members are involved in other ways with chestnut restoration by assisting the counting of chestnut trees along the Appalachian Trail and by conducting an inventory of chestnut trees along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The projects will help to identify other planting sites as restoration progress continues.