Planting American Chestnut Trees on the Domain

TACF1 It’s a big weekend for the University and the American Chestnut Foundation. Approximately 1000 American chestnut (Castanea dentata) seedlings are being planted in a 2 1/2-acre clearcut far back in the western reaches of the Domain — out Breakfield Road and then some! This is a “progeny test,” an experiment to see which of these trees, bred for blight resistance, will survive. This, at least the third planting of chestnuts on the Domain, is the first large-scale progeny planting here. Over the course of the next three days, volunteer planters will lay out a grid and plant each of 800 labeled seedlings, which will be monitored to see which genetic lineages survive. Then around the circumference of this grid planting, another 200 chestnut trees, which will serve as a buffer between the monitored plants and the forest, will be put in. College students and faculty, alumni, and community members will map the site and plant trees today, tomorrow, and Saturday. The plan is to wrap up at noon Saturday. When I visited the site, students Lauren Perkins and Alex Hill were working alongside alums Jack Agricola and Ellis Mayfield, TACF Regional Science Coordinator Tom Saielli, Domain Manager Nate Wilson, and volunteers from Alabama, Tennessee, and North Carolina. Want to be a part of the effort? Contact Nate Wilson at wnwilson@sewanee.edu and he’ll put you to work!

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