Asheville hosts American Chestnut Summit Friday-Sunday Oct. 19-21

Press release

from the American Chestnut Foundation

From October 19-21, the beautiful, trendsetting, mountain mini-city of Asheville, N.C., will host the 2012 American Chestnut Summit, a celebration of science, hope and environmental restoration. Presented by The American Chestnut Foundation and USDA Forest Service, the Summit will focus on recent developments in restoring the American chestnut to the eastern forests after a devastating blight all but obliterated them in the twentieth century.

Presentations will be geared for both industry professionals and the general public, and will include a wide range of technical and scientific talks; hands-on workshops in chestnut identification, pest control, planting and maintenance; as well as explorations of the cultural and historic importance of chestnuts, storytelling, and chestnut cooking demonstrations. Throughout the weekend there will be presentations by scientists and staff of The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF®) exploring recent developments in breeding a blight-resistant American chestnut and the Foundation’s early progress in restoring the tree to the wild.

Keynote speakers will include Patrick McMillan, Host, Co-creator and writer of the popular and award-winning ETV Nature program: Expeditions with Patrick McMillan and Dr. James Hill Craddock, professor of biology at the University of Tennessee who will speak on the “Chestnut Industry in Italy and Around the World.” A full schedule of events is available on the TACF website at www.acf.org/summit/schedule2012.pdf.

“It is great to see this event held in Asheville,” says TACF President and CEO Bryan Burhans. “Western North Carolina was once home to some of the densest chestnut forests in the eastern U.S.” Asheville’s position in the heart of the original chestnut range, along with its rich cultural heritage were a big part of why TACF moved our national offices here in 2009.”

“What makes this gathering special,” says Dr. Kier Klepzig, Assistant Director of the USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station and one of the event’s organizers, “is that so many entities are coming together with a common interest to offer a wide range of educational and entertaining programs geared to anyone that is interested in the health and future of our eastern forests.”

Once the mighty giant of our eastern forests, American chestnuts stood up to 100 feet tall, and numbered in the billions. They were a vital part of the forest ecology, a key food source for wildlife and an essential component of the human economy. In the early years of the twentieth century, a fungus, accidentally imported from Asia, spread rapidly through the American chestnut population, and by 1950 the blight had killed virtually all the mature trees from Maine to Georgia. Several attempts to breed blight-resistant trees in the mid-1900s were unsuccessful.

Then in 1983, a dedicated group of scientists formed The American Chestnut Foundation and began a special breeding process, which in 2005 produced the first potentially blight-resistant trees called Restoration Chestnuts. Now assisted by nearly 6,000 members and volunteers in 18 state chapters, the organization is undertaking the planting of Restoration Chestnuts in select locations throughout the eastern US.

TACF is a 501 (c) 3 conservation organization headquartered in Asheville, NC. For more information on TACF and its national breeding program, visit www.acf.org. For more information on the restoration of the American chestnut, contact Paul Franklin, Director of Communications, The American Chestnut Foundation. T: (828) 281-0047 email: pfranklin@acf.org. Registration information for the event can be found at: www.acf.org/summit.


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