For the Cumberland Times-News
FROSTBURG — The American chestnut once towered over the forest. Known as the redwood of the East, it dominated the landscape from Maine to Florida until its populations were decimated in the early 1900s by a non-native fungus called chestnut blight.
The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Appalachian Laboratory and the American Chestnut Foundation are working with Western Maryland residents to re-establish American chestnut trees.
On Saturday at 11 a.m., Appalachian Laboratory researchers Cathlyn Stylinski, Katia Engelhardt and Steve Keller will introduce the Citizens Restoring American Chestnuts project, describing the story of the American chestnut and its importance for healthy forests and streams. The researchers will outline how residents can help re-establish this tree in local forests. This presentation will take place at the Appalachian Lab at 301 Braddock Road, Frostburg.
Volunteers will plant and monitor pure American chestnut seedlings from four different sources. Funded by the Chesapeake Bay Trust, the project has two goals. It will explore how growth of these seedlings varies with environmental conditions and will increase volunteers’ knowledge of native trees and the importance of reforestation to support water quality in Maryland streams and rivers and the Chesapeake Bay.
All volunteers must be over 18 years old, but children can participate by partnering with an adult. Volunteers must attend a planting workshop May 11 or 18 at the Appalachian Lab and must plant one to four seedlings on their own property. They will monitor the growth and survival of their trees and input their observations into a National Geographic mapping tool.
Individuals with questions may contact the Appalachian Lab at 301-689-7134 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional information is also available at www.facebook.com/restorechestnut.
Interested volunteers who can’t attend the presentation should contact the Appalachian Laboratory to add their name to the team’s mailing list.