To Receive Your Whispers
Tender breath-keepers
Givers of life to these lungs
May I open my ears and surrender
What can you tell me
ow can I tend you
How can I tend to the ones
Who pour life through these lungs…
"We, for every one of us you've uprooted
You can soothe it by planting another
Of the same as the kind you've uprooted
Every ending a beginning if you choose it…
You can soothe it… if you choose it…"

Whispers, Ayla Nereo 

Games, Lesson Plans and

Educational Resources for Kids

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Bringing Back the American Chestnut Tree

The American Chestnut  Tree (Castanea Dentata) is native to the North American forest ecosystem and is on the brink of extinction. In the first half of the 20th century, 1 out of 4 trees across the 180 million acre range of eastern forests were killed by an accidentally introduced pathogen: the Chestnut blight (Cryphonectria parasitica). The loss to date of the American Chestnut is cited as one of the worst ecological disasters in the United States. Although chestnut trees still exist in our forests today, they rarely have an opportunity to reproduce and mostly exist as understory sprouts. At one time, the American Chestnut ranked as the most important wildlife plant in the eastern United States.  Bountiful populations of squirrels, wild turkey, white-tailed deer, black bear, raccoon, and grouse depended on chestnuts as a major food source.  Several unique insect species that relied upon chestnut trees as their principal food source became extinct.  

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About Our Work

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2021

In 2021, we are planting more American chestnuts, paw paw and wild persimmon trees. Our first planting event will be held on April 18th, at the Lee and Virginia Graver Arboretum of Muhlenberg College, and we invite everyone to join.  

in April, we are also commencing the American Chestnut Conservation Course Manual and Field Course. The enrollment is now open and High School Seniors and Undergraduate-level students are invited to enroll.  

For more detail on Upcoming Planting Events and Tree Inspection Schedules, Click Here

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2020

In the Fall of 2020, we planted 35 more American Chestnut trees along with native companion plants, paw paw and persimmon trees. Over 150 volunteers attended the planting events. We are continuing to monitor the health and growth of the trees, and researching new methods to address the blight.  This fall, we colonized the seedlings' root systems with Scleroderma fungi spores. There are scientific studies showing that interactions between ectomycorrhizal fungi and American Chestnut root systems create a positive impact on curtailing the spread of the chestnut blight.  At present, 6 out of 107 trees planted over the last two years show signs of blight infection. Five show significant healing of he blight cankers while one has lost its main stem and subsequently resprouted. 

 

This year, we also published the American Chestnut Conservation Course Manual.  

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2019

Additional 81 trees were planted in September and November of 2019 in Columcille Megalith Park in Bangor, PA and South Branch Preserve in Mt. Olive, NJ.   Along with planting the American Chestnut trees, we planted native companion plants to promote the trees’ optimal health and growth. We track and compare health and growth of the trees, the impact of the companion plants and other biological factors such as the tree genetics, sun/shade on site, juglone presence. During the planting events, we offered educational and hands-on workshops for children and families and encouraged them to participate continuously as citizen scientists by contributing time, effort and observations by recording and sharing their findings throughout the tree planting and growing phases.

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2018

 In November of 2018 we planted the first 25 American Chestnut trees in Emmaus, PA.  Although we were surprised with some early snow during the planting event, the soil was sufficiently warm for the hardy American Chestnut, providing good conditions for the saplings' root networks to recover from any planting stress, and giving the trees a head start on next spring.  

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