GSC News

GSC Students and Faculty Plant Trees for the American Chestnut Foundation

For Immediate Release
May 5, 2011

Glenville, WV – A group of thirteen Glenville State College forestry students and professors from the GSC Land Resources department joined with the West Virginia Chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) to plant 656 hybrid American Chestnut trees on Saturday April 30th on MeadWestvaco (MWV) lands near Rupert, West Virginia. The planting was part of a species restoration project funded through a Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) conservation grant.

The GSC contingent put in a long hard day of volunteer work logging twelve hours including travel time. This is part of a larger effort by the GSC Land Resources Department to help restore the American Chestnut to the forests of West Virginia.

GSC volunteers help reforest timbered land

Several GSC student and faculty volunteers put in a long hard day planting chestnut trees. Pictured left to right: Mike Singleton, Dr. Brian Perkins, Ethan Lilly, Aaron Hillan, Jessica Allen, Chad Stout, Mr. Rick Sypolt, Jesse King, Johnny King, Louis Babrel, Ryan Thomas, and Brian Sprouse. Not pictured: Jessica Perkins.

In May of 2009, Glenville State College joined the fight to restore the majestic American chestnut tree to our forests with the planting of over one hundred trees in two separate orchards on the GSC campus. Over one hundred seedlings donated by TACF were planted in a field on property used by the GSC Land Resources Department. The orchards includes a variety of chestnut strains including: 100% American chestnut , 75% American chestnut and 25% Chinese chestnut, 87.5 % American chestnut and 12.5% Chinese Chestnut, 15/16 American chestnut and 1/16 Chinese chestnut. These orchards are being used for testing and research of The American Chestnut Foundation’s breeding program. “We have had very good success with our GSC orchard so far. Some trees died but approximately 84% have survived and are doing well,” said GSC Assistant Professor of Forestry Brian Perkins.

GSC will be adding approximately eighty trees to their chestnut orchard. The trees were donated by the Virginia chapter of TCAF and MeadWestvaco.

The American chestnut tree once produced high-value wood products, such as furniture and rail ties, and was a valuable food source for a wide variety of wildlife ranging from bears to birds. An estimated four billion trees were lost to an exotic, Asian, fungal disease (chestnut blight) during the first half of the 20th century. “The trees planted Saturday are the result of more than 30 years of scientific research for blight resistance and American chestnut growth characteristics,” said Jimmy Jenkins, President of the West Virginia Chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation. “Partnerships with organizations like SFI and MWV are invaluable in our efforts to restore this important species,” he added.

“The return of the American chestnut to its former range in the Appalachian hardwood forest ecosystem is a major restoration project,” said Bryan Burhans, President and CEO of The American Chestnut Foundation. “Only through the continued effort of our 6,000 members and volunteers, partners, and research, can we eventually realize our goal of the American chestnut once again being an essential component of our forests.”

The day was spent planting chestnut trees to reforest land owned by MeadWestvaco that had been timbered.

Volunteers from the West Virginia Chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation planted the trees alongside partners from MWV, SFI, Glenville State College forestry students, West Virginia Division of Forestry, Meadow River Watershed Association, and the West Virginia SFI State Implementation Committee. The project, with funding through the SFI Conservation and Community Partnerships Grant Program, will eventually result in the planting of about 3,000 American chestnut trees in the southeastern United States, as well as the collection and utilization of baseline information which will facilitate the process of species restoration.

Professor Perkins says participating in the tree planting event was a tremendous service learning experience for the GSC students. “This volunteer project helped students learn about the American Chestnut, its unique ecological role in the forest, planting breeding, and why it is so important that this species be restored to the eastern hardwood forest.  In addition, forestry students got more experience in proper tree planting techniques and learned the value of working together to serve their community during this project.”

For more information on the GSC chestnut tree orchard or the Land Resources Department, contact Perkins at brian.perkins@glenville.edu or (304) 462-6373.

Media contact:
Bob Edwards
Public Relations Department
Glenville State College
(304) 462-7361 ext 6390

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