The American Chestnut Cooperators' Foundation

American Chestnut (Castanea dentata): In the first 40 years of the 20th century, chestnut blight destroyed 3.5 billion American Chestnuts. What had been the most important tree in our Eastern Forests was reduced to insignificance. No comparable devastation of a species exists in recorded history.

ACCF is a nonprofit scientific and educational foundation, organized in 1984, dedicated to restoring the American Chestnut to its former place in our Eastern hardwood forests. Priorities include the development of blight resistant all-American Chestnuts and economical biological control measures against chestnut blight in the forest environment. We support American Chestnut research and engage senior citizens and school children, volunteers and professionals in planting, grafting and managing the fruits of this research.

The Lost Treasure

When the Europeans arrived in North America, one-fourth of the trees in the forest were American Chestnuts (Castanea dentata). Commonly over one hundred feet tall with trunks five to seven feet in diameter, they were the tallest and most bountiful member of the forest community. The durable, straight-grained wood was used for houses, barns, furniture, paneling and fences. Today much of the rail fencing along the Blue Ridge Parkway is chestnut. A dependable yearly crop of nuts provided food for wild birds, squirrels, turkeys, deer, and bears and cash for mountain families. Before 1900 and the introduction of Chestnut blight, Chestnut mast fell like rain in the fall of the year. After the blight struck, it left in its wake over 3.5 billion dead Chestnut trees and a void that could only partially be filled by Oaks and other tree species. Through the years, much has been learned about Chestnut Blight and breeding for resistance so that today, with recent breakthroughs, restoration of the American Chestnut tree is increasingly possible.

The ACCF is Restoring American Chestnuts by:

Breeding for blight resistance. ACCF all- American intercrosses accumulate resistance exclusively from American Chestnuts. We do not use hybrids or other Castanea species in our breeding program.

Cloning resistant American Chestnuts. The ACCF grafts scions of American Chestnuts with tested blight resistance onto existing sprouts in selected forest settings.

Reclaiming the habitat needed to rescue the species. Where clearcutting, fire and storms create suitable openings, we reestablish American Chestnuts by cutting the competing hardwoods, planting and grafting blight-resistant chestnuts and introducing hypovirulent (weakened) strains of the blight fungus. This is integrated management for blight control.

You Can Help

Join the ACCF. Your support will help fund research to:

bulletDiscover chemical markers for blight resistance,
bulletImprove breeding efficiency,
bulletRefine the biological controls of blight, and
bulletApply integrated management on forest sites.

Adopt a forest revival plot. Ideal American Chestnut habitat is found on sloping lands at low to medium elevations, in coves or slopes facing east to north, with many chestnut stems, sandy loam soil and full sunshine. Good site indicator trees are tulip poplar, cucumber magnolia and red oak. When openings occur on these sites, they should be managed for American Chestnut recovery; no other use could match the potential benefit to the forest environment.

Plant American Chestnuts and report their progress to ACCF. Visit our website for details.

Please visit our websites at

http://ipm.ppws.vt.edu/griffin/accf.html or

http://www.accf-online.org

 

American Chestnut Cooperators' Foundation

2667 Forest Service Road 708

Newport, Virginia 24128

 

Send ACCF e-mail to Lucille at gagriffi@vt.edu

Lucille Griffin, Executive Director

Gary Griffin, President, Professor of Forest Pathology, Virginia Tech
Dave McCurdy,
Vice-president, Superintendent, Clements State Tree Nursery, WV
John Rush Elkins,
Secretary, Research Chemist, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, Concord College, WV
William Pilkington,
Treasurer, Financial Advisor, Ghent, WV
Ed Greenwell,
Director of Tennessee chestnut projects, Electrical Engineer, Cookeville, TN

ACCF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Dues and all contributions are tax deductible.

Page by Ed Greenwell

Last updated 01/01/2009