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Call for American Chestnuts: A Range-Wide Search for Surviving Chestnuts

Wild American chestnut tree. Photo by Kelsey Bonifay

This year, TACF is initiating a range-wide search for surviving American chestnuts in the forest. From Maine to Alabama, our chapters are working on plans to capture thousands of new sources of American chestnut never used in our breeding programs. New American chestnuts will be beneficial to TACF as it will help with conservation of unique sources of American chestnut genetics in Germplasm Conservation Orchards (GCOs). These trees will also serve as mother trees for outcrossing with transgenic chestnut pollen from the tree developed at SUNY-ESF (when available) in order to create a locally adapted and genetically diverse population of blight resistant chestnut trees for restoration. Finding more trees will bring us one step closer to being able to create a genetically diverse population of trees for restoration.

How You Can Help

This endeavor is no small task and we are looking for anyone that would like to get involved in scouting for American chestnuts to help in our efforts. If you know of an American chestnut on your favorite hiking trail, on your property, or elsewhere; you can follow the steps below to report the tree to TACF.

  • Step 1. Download the Tree Locator Form (TLF) on TACF’s website and learn about chestnut identification
  • Step 2. Download TreeSnap on your mobile phone
  • Step 3. Go for a walk in the woods.
  • Step 4. When you find an American chestnut tree, document the tree using a TLF or on TreeSnap (you may use both, but don’t have to, AND collect a leaf and twig sample as per the instructions on the TLF
  • Step 5. Mail leaf sample to your nearest TACF office for identification. Include a TLF that is either completed or has your TreeSnap ID on it.

If you a looking to get more involved in this effort and would like to volunteer your time towards systematically surveying areas for surviving chestnuts with your local TACF chapter, please contact your chapter representative or the Regional Science Coordinator for your region (information below). We are developing surveying and tissue collection protocols for areas throughout the range that we have identified as areas of interest, so coordinating with TACF is critical.

Contact your RSC/Chapter: https://www.acf.org/about-us/state-chapters/