2012 American Chestnut Summit Is a Smashing Success!

The 2012 American Chestnut Summit attracted a record number of attendees from all over the United States.

Record attendance and great programs meant that many events were standing room only at the 2012 American Chestnut Summit, October 19-20 in Asheville, NC.  Among the memorable moments:

Keynote speaker Dr. Patrick McMillan gave a powerful and moving presentation on man's long lasting impact on the natural world. He also offered fascinating insights into the real origins of animals most of us think of as "American" animals. Sure, the buffalo used to be on the US nickel - think it is American? Nope, it came from Asia 8,000 years ago!

Saturday morning, Dr. Patrick McMillan delivered an insightful presentation to a packed-out crowd.

Teupen USA set up a track-driven lift that took Summit attendees (brave ones, anyhow) to heights of eighty feet or more above the Crowne Plaza Resort. It was a glorious day, and the views (as reported by survivors) were magnificent.

Two brave chestnut enthusiasts wave from their perch on the Teupen lift demonstration on Saturday.

Other presentations that rated rave reviews: Dr. Rob Doudrick offered a forward-thinking presentation on the challenges of restoring chestnut into a forest that has changed significantly in the last century. Dr. Nicole Cavender presented a fascinating talk on how The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) can use the resources of public arboretums and gardens to broadcast its message, and Dr. Stacy Clark reviewed the status of the USDA Forest Service's current blight-resistant chestnut plantings.

Musicians Sarah Tucker and Elijah McWilliams captivated guests during the Chestnut Gala.

The Saturday Chestnut Gala Dinner offered a memorable evening. The food was excellent and the entertainment included an around-the-world look at how chestnuts have bolstered agricultural societies presented by Dr. Hill Craddock, as well as the blues-laced music of Sarah Tucker and Elijah McWilliams, a young duo who captivated the audience. At the end of the evening, Sarah and Elijah graciously donated the proceeds from their CD sales to TACF. The silent auction featured lots of chestnut-themed goodies, including beautiful chestnut bluebird houses handcrafted by TACF member Doug Gillis, as well as some more esoteric offerings such as a fly fishing trip for two. Funds raised will go to help the American Chestnut Learning Box program.

The enjoy-the-woods-on-a-beautiful-fall-day award went to the USDA Forest Service-hosted Bent Creek Experimental Forest Field Trip. Summit attendees on Sunday set a record for the largest tour group ever to tour the facility (68 attendees plus staff). Bent Creek has been conducting important forest research since 1925. Tour participants were taken to see four areas where test plots of pure American chestnuts were planted in different environments to test what conditions are best for restoration. Dr. Stacy Clark, Jason Rodrigue, and Dr. Henry McNab presented an excellent program, and Mother Nature put on a spectacular show of fall colors.

Jason Rodrigue of the USDA Forest Service led the tour to the Bent Creek Experimental Forest.