Ten Thousand Chestnut Challenge: A Restoration Forest

Ten Thousand Chestnut Challenge: A Restoration Forest

From ESF College Foundation

ESF scientists have developed a blight-resistant American chestnut tree! Our next step is to create the first Restoration Forest to strengthen the science for long term success.

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Update #7

about 2 years ago

A huge THANK YOU to everyone that supported our Ten Thousand Chestnut Challenge! We raised $131,185 and this will be put to use right away to help us build the Restoration Forest.

we will be emailing you a Progress Report in November highlighting progress made this year, so be on the lookout for that. And whenever you would like to check in with us, you can always stop by our project website at www.esf.edu/chestnut

Thanks again...
The ESF American Chestnut Research and Restoration Project Team

More Info

A blight-resistant American chestnut tree.

After years of groundbreaking research, ESF scientists have developed a blight-resistant American chestnut tree! The key to success has been an enzyme that detoxifies the acid produced by the fungus without killing it. 

The next step.

Our hope is to help restore this iconic tree to its former prominence in the forests, ecology and economy of the United States. Our next step is to create the first Restoration Forest on a 120-acre plot of land owned by ESF near Tully, NY. 

You can help. Your tax deductible charitable donations  will make the difference and enable our groundbreaking scientific efforts to succeed. Donations made on this site are being made to the ESF College Foundation, Inc., a 501c3 nonprofit organization (Tax ID: 15-6023443) that handles all charitable donations for ESF. Call us for donation support or questions at (315) 470-6683. 

The purpose of the Restoration Forest is to provide a location for long-term research studies, public education and outreach. We will develop and test methods for producing the most blight-resistant American chestnut trees, focusing on maximizing benefits to the environment while encouraging direct engagement of the public. 

There is another reason to support this fundraising effort. The money we raise here will be used as matching funds in a proposal by ESF’s Dr. Powell to the USDA for a $1 million grant that would give our American chestnut restoration efforts a giant boost! Your donation can help strengthen our proposal!

Why a Restoration Forest? 

Since our original Ten Thousand Chestnut Challenge in 2014, ESF researchers have been working diligently to produce the first 10,000 blight-resistant trees, targeted for future distribution to the public.

Our continuing challenge is to grow strong blight-resistant trees and develop the best science for restoring these trees to their native range. The Restoration Forest will provide many benefits:

  • It will be the site of “century studies” lasting more than 100 years, in which scientists compare different approaches to restoration and blight-resistant tree production.
  • The Forest will grow on a 120-acre plot, already owned by ESF, at Heiberg Memorial Forest near Tully, New York. In addition to funding research, money raised from this effort will be used to clear the land, install fencing and other infrastructure, and support planting and maintenance of trees.
  • The chestnut blight was discovered in New York state on the grounds of the old Bronx Zoo and through ESF’s efforts and your support, the blight will end in New York state! This Forest will be the launchpad for ESF’s restoration efforts.
  • Plantings will include several types of American chestnut trees in addition to ESF’s blight-resistant trees. The others will be wild-type, back-crossed and hybrid American chestnut trees.
  • The Restoration Forest is being designed with support from ESF landscape architecture students so it is accessible and interesting to visitors and serves as an effective tool for public education and outreach.
  • Research at the site will not be limited to trees. The Forest will be the site of long-term research on the impact of the American chestnut tree on ecosystem-level issues such as wildlife diversity, soil fertility and forest expansion.

Why is the American chestnut tree so important?

The American chestnut tree reigned over 200 million acres of eastern woodlands from Maine to Georgia, and from the Piedmont plateau in the Carolinas west to the Ohio Valley, until succumbing to a lethal fungus known as the chestnut blight during the first half of the 20th century. Over 3 billion American chestnuts, up to 1/4 of the hardwood tree population, grew within this range. Now, just a few survive. We lost a lot when we lost the American chestnut tree:  

Rot-resistant lumber. Chestnut is legendary for its rot resistance and straight grain. Like redwood, chestnut needs no pressure treatment before use. It would be ideal for many outdoor uses such as fences and decks. 

Food for wildlife.  Unlike many other timber-tree species, American chestnut trees also produce edible nuts. Flowering begins in as little as five years and, as trees mature, crops become frequent and copious. Not every tree has its own Christmas carol ingrained into the culture!   

Enhancement of biodiversity. Biodiversity is an essential characteristic of a healthy forest ecosystem. Restoring the American Chestnut tree will help increase biodiversity and have a positive effect on wildlife populations. Before the blight, the chestnut could be counted on to produce a large mast crop nearly every year. This mast crop was stored by squirrels and other rodents, and consumed in large quantities by deer, bears, turkeys and many other wildlife species to sustain them for the winter. 

The Science

To learn more about the science of developing a blight-resistant American chestnut tree, you can watch Dr. Powell's TEDx Talk: DeExtinction, which is included in the videos above.  And you can read about the science of tissue culture & transformation and the search for blight-resistant genes, as well as read recent publications such as in Scientific American  and others at the  SUNY-ESF American Chestnut Research & Restoration Project website . 

How can I get a blight-resistant tree?

To stay up to date on our progress and to find out how to get a blight-resistant tree once they are ready to be released to the public, visit the SUNY-ESF American Chestnut Research & Restoration Project website regularly. 

We thank all of our supporters, but especially The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF)  (and most especially the New York chapter of TACF) who we have worked with over the past 27 years. TACF is our most important partner, providing funding support and leadership in national restoration efforts. You can learn more about TACF by visiting their website at https://www.acf.org/ and the NYS Chapter of TACF specifically at https://www.acf.org/ny/ 

For more about ESF's American Chestnut Research and Restoration Project, visit http://www.esf.edu/chestnut/

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ESF College Foundation posted a new update:
about 2 years ago

Update #7

A huge THANK YOU to everyone that supported our Ten Thousand Chestnut Challenge! We raised $131,185 and this will be put to use right away to help us build the Restoration Forest.

we will be emailing you a Progress Report in November highlighting progress made this year, so be on the lookout for that. And whenever you would like to check in with us, you can always stop by our project website at www.esf.edu/chestnut

Thanks again...
The ESF American Chestnut Research and Restoration Project Team

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ESF College Foundation posted a new update:
about 2 years ago

Update #6

Special challenge announcement from Allen and Fran Nichols! As President of TACF-NY, Allen is issuing his own challenge to match up to the next $1000 in donations! Make your donation now! Thanks Allen and Fran!

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ESF College Foundation posted a new update:
about 2 years ago

Update #5

Join Dr. Powell and his team from the American Chestnut Restoration Project for a Reddit Science 'Ask Me Anything' Q&A on Reddit TODAY! You can find the link here:

https://www.reddit.com/r/science/comments/5zxa0e/science_ama_series_we_are_a_team_of_esf/

With over 13 million members who share and discuss the latest science news on a daily basis, Reddit Science works to forward science communication by hosting an official 'Ask Me Anything' series where researchers can communicate directly with the audience to answer questions about their work. Join us today!

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ESF College Foundation posted a new update:
about 2 years ago

Update #4

Join Dr. Powell and his team from the American Chestnut Project for a Reddit Science 'Ask Me Anything' Q&A on Reddit THIS FRIDAY (tomorrow)! With over 13 million members who share and discuss the latest science news on a daily basis, Reddit Science works to forward science communication by hosting an official 'Ask Me Anything' series where researchers can communicate directly with the audience to answer questions about their work. Dr. Powell's 'Science AMA' on American chestnut restoration will go live on Friday morning at https://www.reddit.com/r/science/ to take questions from the audience, and the team will begin answering them starting at 3 pm EDT.

If you'd like to ask the team a question about American chestnut research or restoration, you can quickly create a Reddit account by clicking on the 'sign up' link at the top right of the page, or learn more about Reddit at their Reddit 101 page.

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ESF College Foundation posted a new update:
about 2 years ago

Update #3

A very special Thank You to Andrew Gundlach and the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation for their generous donation! Your support challenges us to work even harder - and we hope it inspires others to join in and make a tax-deductible charitable contribution to help us restore the American chestnut!

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ESF College Foundation posted a new update:
about 2 years ago

Update #2

Special Leadership challenge announcement! Paul Tremont, ESF class of 1978, is issuing his own challenge to match up to the next $1000 in donations! Make your donation now! Thanks Paul !

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ESF College Foundation posted a new update:
about 2 years ago

Update #1

Special Fundraising Kickoff challenge announcement! Dale L. Travis, ESF class of 1959, is issuing his own challenge to help inspire ESF alumni to join this fundraising effort. Dale will match all donations made, up to our first $5,000! Double the impact of your donation by accepting Dale’s challenge and make your donation today!

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