Huxley College on the Peninsulas Publications

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American chestnut, Mine restoration landscapes


The American chestnut’s fast growth rate, early nut production, and quality of timber make it a valuable tree for use in coal mine restoration projects (Figure 1). This species tolerates a wide range of ecological conditions, including dry soils and low pH, which are typical of some sites previously mined for coal. Experimental planting methods are currently being studied to determine protocols most conducive for establishing chestnut trees on these sites. The Forestry Reclamation Approach (FRA) proposed by the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative (ARRI) recommends the selection of proper soil substrate, a deep rooting zone, appropriate herbaceous vegetation, and the proper planting of ecologically valuable trees (Zipper et al. 2011). The premise is that established trees, like chestnut, can accelerate native forest recovery by adding organic matter to the soil, attracting seed- carrying wildlife, and providing reservoirs for beneficial soil microorganisms.

Coupling FRA planting protocols with the goals of The American Chestnut Foundation’s (TACF) restoration program accomplishes two objectives. For one, this partnership introduces a valuable native tree for the restoration of Appalachian landscapes impacted by mining. Second, large-scale ecological restoration projects provide an opportunity for the directed experimental plantings of various chestnut seed lines. The ultimate goal is the successful establishment of founder populations of chestnut that can potentially produce blight-resistant offspring that migrate into surrounding forests (Jacobs 2007). This paper summarizes a portion of a long-term study in southeastern Ohio that is evaluating FRA soil ripping as a preparation method for the planting of pure American and backcrossed chestnut lines (B1-F3 and B2-F3) on a reclaimed coal mine site. Growth and survival of the different chestnut seed lines and the presence of chestnut blight cankers are report

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Journal of the American Chestnut





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Published by the American Chestnut Foundation