Restoring American Chestnut Tree Population

Outdoor Education staff and students at Green Chimneys’ Clearpool Campus in Carmel, NY got their hands dirty – as they often do – with a hands-on lesson in sustainability and forestry. In April, approximately 35 pure American chestnut seeds provided by the New York Chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF-NY) were planted across the Clearpool Campus to support efforts to replenish the species that came close to extinction in the 1950s. American chestnut was once the dominant hardwood in forests from Maine to Mississippi with an estimated total of 4 billion trees. A widespread fungus caused a severe decline in population but the New York chapter of TACF, in partnership with SUNY-ESF in Syracuse, has developed a truly blight resistant American chestnut. The 35 trees planted will be crossed with the blight-resistant trees to produce blight-resistant nuts with the genetic diversity necessary to survive future stresses when restored into the forest. 

It’s no coincidence that this activity took place at Green Chimneys’ Carmel campus where the Clearpool Model Forest is located. The Clearpool Model Forest is comprised of 264 acres set aside to support environmental education and forest stewardship within New York State’s Putnam County and the New York City Watershed, the largest surface water supply system in the world. Model Forests serve as outdoor classrooms to educate students, teachers, forest landowners, and communities about effective forest management and stewardship practices that are compatible with water quality protection, a critical issue in the East of Hudson region.

Green Chimneys believes that children thrive in nature and benefit from time spent outdoors and the academic curriculum at the therapeutic school is enriched with nature-based activities such as farm science, animal care, horticulture, and outdoor education. Outdoor Education is taught from the human perspective in an outdoor environment and instills a personal commitment to our individual and community responsibility of stewardship and care of the land. Students learn and understand the basic ecological, sociological and cultural principles needed to be successful in meeting that commitment. http://clearpool.greenchimneys.org/

For more information on the American chestnut restoration, please got to http://www.esf.edu/chestnut/ or contact TACF-NY President Allen Nichols at [email protected] or 607.263.5105.

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