Chestnut - The Journal for the American Chestnut Foundation - Spring 2016
When your goal is something as important as restoring the American chestnut to the eastern United States, you can’t go it alone. The American Chestnut Foundation knows this, which is why we have a network of amazing chapters, volunteers, scientists, and also, partner organizations. One such organization is ArbNet, an interactive, collaborative, international community of arboreta sponsored and coordinated by The Morton Arboretum in Illinois. Through ArbNet, arboreta from around the globe can work collaboratively as part of a broad network with the common goal of encouraging the planting and conservation of trees.
While the program is still in its own seedling stage, TACF is excited about the potential of this partnership to grow chestnuts in different arboreta across the eastern United States. TACF offers three kinds of seeds: 1) TACF’s Restoration Chestnut 1.0, a sixth generation hybrid of pure American Chestnut, Castanea dentata, and Chinese Chestnut, Castanea mollissima, with approximately 94% American genes. Most offspring may have moderate to good blight resistance; 2) Pure American Chestnut, the chestnut tree native to the eastern United States, with low blight resistance; 3) Chinese Chestnut, which is native to China, typically shorter and stouter, with strong blight resistance.Ben Finegan, president of the Indiana chapter of TACF, and Kathy Marmet, Chair of TACF’s Education Committee, a cohort she calls a “diverse group of chestnut volunteers,” were instrumental in creating this partnership. Marmet credits Finegan with doing a lot of the work on behalf of TACF to get the partnership going and continuing to nurture the initiative.“We got together with these folks and launched a pilot project and it went well the first year,” Marmet said. “We had a conversation with the ArbNet coordinator and decided to approach 12 target arboreta from the ArbNet community. Nine of them asked for chestnut packages.