Volunteers work to restore American chestnut to Catawba - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Volunteers work to restore American chestnut to Catawba

Posted: Updated:
ROANOKE COUNTY, VA - A local effort to restore a one time icon of Appalachian forests is closer to making a comeback. The American chestnut tree once reigned over 200-million acres of eastern woodlands but virtually disappeared being taken out by a lethal fungus known as the chestnut blight.

We went into the woods two years ago to show you how volunteers with local branches of the American Chestnut Foundation worked in Catawba to pollinate trees with one that was blight resistant. They returned to harvest the nuts and planted them in pots last spring. It resulted in 32 germinating and surviving the summer.

Volunteers will plant the trees for the Catawba Chestnut Breeding Orchard at the Catawba Sustainability Center on Sunday afternoon with the hopes of bringing back what was once an economic engine in Appalachia. "There's a strong market for the chestnut," said Certified Master Arborist, Carl Absher. "It's good in cooking, good eaten raw. The wood itself is strong and light. It's really a wood that's in demand and very rare now."

This is not a short term project. Of the 32 seedlings, volunteers hope to get two or three that are strongly resistant and could eventually be planted in the forest.

Absher joked, if he were younger, he would do cartwheels over the success so far. He says it's a long term project, one his grandchildren will see in the long term. "That's a pitiful looking tree right there," he said pointing to the seedling. "but it has the potential to be 100 feet tall and make 8,000 nuts every year."

  • Virginia Crossroads: Trains, rivers and oysters in the Chesapeake Bay

    Virginia Crossroads: Trains, rivers and oysters in the Chesapeake Bay

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 4:07 PM EDT2014-07-23 20:07:19 GMT
    Much of the water that starts out here in the mountains, eventually makes its way to the Chesapeake Bay, which environmentalists have been trying to “save” for decades. This especially applies to the declining Oyster population.
    Much of the water that starts out here in the mountains, eventually makes its way to the Chesapeake Bay, which environmentalists have been trying to “save” for decades. This especially applies to the declining Oyster population.
  • GM issues 6 more safety recalls

    GM issues 6 more safety recalls

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 3:54 PM EDT2014-07-23 19:54:11 GMT
    General Motors is issuing six more recalls covering a total of almost 718,000 vehicles in the U.S.
    General Motors issued six more recalls on Wednesday, bringing its annual total to 60 recalls covering almost 30 million vehicles.
  • US pushes for truce as Gaza battle rages

    US pushes for truce as Gaza battle rages

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 3:43 PM EDT2014-07-23 19:43:23 GMT
    Dozens of Palestinian families trapped by clashes between Hamas militants and Israeli troops are scrambling to flee a southern Gaza Strip neighborhood as Israel reported that two more of its soldiers have died in...
    Israeli troops battled Hamas militants on Wednesday near a southern Gaza Strip town as the top U.S. diplomat reported progress in efforts to end fighting that has so far killed more than 680 Palestinians and 34 Israelis.
Powered by WorldNow

WSLS 10, P.O. Box 10
Roanoke, VA 24022-0010

Telephone: 540.981.9110
Fax: 540.343.3157
Email: news@wsls.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.