History of American Chestnut
Prior to settlement the American chestnut was a major component in the great hardwood forests of Eastern North American. Because of its many uses it was referred to as the “cradle to grave tree”. Everything from cradles to caskets to fences to cabins to barns was made out of chestnut. The rot resistant properties and easy working properties made it invaluable for many applications. The nuts were cherished as a food source for people and wildlife. However around 1900 a blight introduced from Asia was found in New York chestnuts and the blight was deadly to the American Chestnut. Despite various attempts to stop it, the blight expanded to the entire natural range of the American chestnut. (Read more)
American chestnut in Ohio
The range of the American Chestnut was mostly restricted to the glaciated and unglaciated Appalachian Plateau region In Ohio. This is roughly the eastern half of the state. (Chestnut range map.) The chestnut grew mostly as part of the oak hickory forests . and constituted 10-20% of the forests in eastern Ohio. They reached3-4’ DBH. Since Ohio is in the western part of the range the of the tree the blight did not completely decimate the chestnut in Ohio until the early 1940’s. Some large snags persisted for awhile but now almost the only thing left are root sprouts in the understory of the forest and ODNR now lists the American Chestnut as extirpated in Ohio.
The American Chestnut Foundation
In 1983 The American Chestnut Foundation(TACF) was founded to restore the American chestnut to its former position in the eastern hardwood forests. TACF is using what is called the 3Bur strategy. This consists of Breeding, Biotechnology and Biocontrol .
Ohio Chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation
The Ohio Chapter of the American Chestnut foundation was established in 2005. The mission of the Ohio Chapter is to support the goals of the TACF through research and education to restore the American Chestnut to its former glory. Education includes demonstration projects to increase awareness, presentations, and publications on the American Chestnut. Research efforts include restoration projects, finding surviving trees in Ohio, and sponsoring research supporting the restoration of the American Chestnut in Ohio and throughout its range(read more).