2007 Annual Meeting of the Carolinas Chapter-TACF

August 25, 2007

The Annual Meeting was attended by 37 people. The agenda consisted of many interesting topics presented by members and guests. While meeting in the Fellowship Hall, members and guests could admire the wood trusses, ceiling, and window treatments of the room, finished in pre-wormy American chestnut. Click on any photo to enlarge it.

Chapter President, K.O. Summerville, welcomed members and guests to Montreat College. Board Member Dr. Brian Joyce hosted the meeting and later conducted a field tour of chestnut plantings on the College grounds. Initial business included a Treasurer’s Report given by Dr. Paul Sisco, who high lighted contributions to and investment growth of the Endowment Fund which had accummulated to more than $17,000 as of August 25. Doug Gillis introduced the six candidates nominated for election to the Board of Directors. Later, Judy Coker, joint owner of Cataloochee Ranch near Maggie Valley, NC, and newest chestnut grower in the Carolinas, and Lee Gragg, Registered Public Land Surveyor from Morganton, NC and American chestnut enthusiast, were elected as new Board Members for 2007-2009. Current Board Members Steve Barilovits, III, Joe James, Steve Motsinger, and Don Surrette were re-elected to two year terms.

Jack Johnston, retiring Chapter Board Member, is recognized by K.O. Summerville for his service and is presented a Certificate of Recognition.   Jack Johnston, who is active in the Georgia Chapter-TACF, will continue to assist the Carolinas Chapter in its work to help restore the American chestnut tree.  His botanical knowledge and service have been (and will continue to be) an inspiration to the Chapter members.

Dr. Paul Sisco gave a presentation on the American Chestnut Foundation’s back cross pollination program which relies heavily on the contribution of grower’s and State Chapter volunteers. Dr. Sisco discussed efforts in the Carolinas to plant and tend to hybrid trees and to collect pollen from “Father” trees for use in back cross breeding of hybrid trees.

Steve Barilovits, IV discussed inoculation and pollination work in which he had been involved the summers of 2006 and 2007. Steve, a high school student, and member of the American Chestnut Foundation since age 10, is an enthusiastic member of the Carolinas Chapter and is the person responsible for Board Member Steve Barilovits, III, his father, becoming interested in the American chestnut tree.

Lee Gragg gave a presentation about American chestnuts which he has found in the Lake James, NC, area. Using his surveying skills, he plots locations of trees on topographic mapping. Most of the trees he has located at Lake James grow on the northeast slopes of ridges. Lee is an amateur horticulturist, and has saved American chestnuts prior to their removal for land development projects. He transplants the trees onto his property and cares for them.

Joe James spoke about his work to breed hybrid chestnut trees resistant to the root rot disease caused by Phytophthora cinnamoni. The root rot disease, which affects many species of trees and shrubs, was introduced into the United States in the early 1800’s. The disease killed many American chestnuts in the Southeast and as far north as southwestern Pennsylvania. The disease is spread via cultivation of soil and use of contaminated implements in different fields, planting of infected nursery plant stock, and once in the soil, by ground water. Joe’s work is aimed at cultivating trees that are resistant both to root rot disease and to the chestnut blight so that hybrid American chestnuts can be reintroduced into the Piedmont areas of the Southeast and at lower elevations where rot root disease is a problem.

Bob Head, a horticulturist with Head-Lee Nursery in Seneca, SC, discussed his work to successfully root cuttings from American chestnut trees. Carolinas Chapter members collected samples from numerous American chestnut trees the spring of 2007 to supply Mr. Head with a wide selection of cuttings. He had most success with rooting cuttings that came from the Montreat, NC, area, which were collected by Dr. Brian Joyce and his assistants.

Board Member, Doug Gillis, shared with members and guests information about American chestnuts he encountered on his recent trip to Portland, Oregon.   In the picture below, the larger of the two trees is approximately 120 years old, about six feet in diameter, and is the largest recorded American chestnut tree in the country. A photo album on this same web page gives more detail about chestnut trees in Oregon.

Dr. Brian Joyce lead members and guests on a tour of the hybrid chestnut plantings at Montreat College. Numerous plots of trees have been planted along what formerly were the fairways of a golf course. The trees looked extremely good, with little signs of either root rot disease or chestnut blight.