The WV chapter of TACF has had a moderately busy year to date. We began with our annual spring meeting at Glenville State College with about 30 members in attendance. We discussed how to handle Randolph County property donated to the chapter by the Bolgiano family. Jimmy Jenkins surveyed the property and provided the chapter with valuable information. Rick Sypolt began the leg work to identify a hunt club that might be willing to help plant and maintain chestnut trees. Also discussed was seedling distribution to chapter members.
In early April, Robert Sypolt and Mark Double represented the WV chapter at the spring board meeting in Abingdon, VA. Mark serves as the current president of the WV chapter and Robert serves on the national education subcommittee.
In April, a dozen chapter members gathered at the greenhouse on the campus of West Virginia University to pot about 300 nuts that were shipped from TACF’s farm in Meadowview. Working in three teams, the nuts were successfully potted in less than 2 hours.
The nuts were watered as needed and in about a month, seedlings emerged. The seedlings were then transferred outdoors behind the greenhouse so the tender shoots could acclimatize to the weather. In late May/early June, the seedlings were distributed to sites around the state. Robert Sypolt delivered many of the seedlings and Joe Golden and Peggy Burkhart picked up seedlings, packed diligently into their Subaru for distribution to members in southern WV.
Five volunteers gathered at the University Forest in Preston County in early May to transplant new seedlings into voids, weed the existing trees and spray herbicide to keep down grass and weeds.
In mid-June, a dozen volunteers gathered in Mason County at the Clements Tree nursery. The state tree nursery has two chestnut orchards that are used to produce seed that are grown into seedlings and sold to the general public.
The orchards have many dead trees and invasive species and the volunteers, using chain saws and pruning tools, removed many dead chestnut trees along with invasive Hawthorne, Sumac and multiflora rose. Hopefully, the work of the volunteers will promote greater seed production in both chestnut groves.
A number of educational offerings were made this year. Presentations were made to the Harrison County Master Gardeners, Central Preston Middle School students, the WV Master Naturalist annual meeting, and to inmates at the Federal Corrections Institute in Morgantown.
Mark Double puts out newsletters about every 2-3 months to members of the WV chapter.
Finally, Dr. William MacDonald, Amy Metheny and Mark Double represented the WV chapter at TACF chapter’s
science meeting in Abingdon, VA. The biggest contribution that citizen scientists can do to aid in the breeding program is to locate and document native American chestnut trees. Native trees are needed to establish germplasm conservation orchards—simply put, orchards of native chestnut trees.
The WV chapter is thrilled to host its fall meeting at the Szilagyi Center in Rowlesburg. The Rowlesburg Revitalization Committee has been a great partner for the WV chapter, and we hope this relationship continues for many years.
Please visit our website at: www.acf.org/wv.
Dear Chestnut Friends,
The first half of 2019 was marked with exciting new scientific discoveries, which shed new light on our breeding program, coupled with unique external challenges, making us resolute to stay the course towards mission success. As a result, we are emerging out of this time stronger and more determined than ever to use all of the resources and research at our disposal to ultimately restore the American chestnut species.
In April of this year, after extensive data analyses based on genomic testing and mapping, our director of science Dr. Jared Westbrook, along with his scientific collaborators, learned that the inherited traits for blight resistance are much more complex than originally hypothesized in the Burnham Plan, created decades ago. Since our founding in 1983, the field of genomics has burgeoned in scope and affordability, which we have embraced to unlock the answers to blight resistance at the molecular level. These new discoveries would not be possible without the confidence and generous support from a great number of private foundations, philanthropists, donors and members.
In July, 73 chapter science leaders, board members and staff gathered in Abingdon, VA to help chart a new course in the breeding program. The atmosphere of this meeting was one of renewed energy and resolve. We are intentionally embracing new technologies to ensure we are not only using one pathway to our goal of restoring a keystone species. Multiple pathways is the theme behind our 3BUR science protocol: Breeding, Biotechnology and Biocontrol United for Restoration, now being implemented in real time. It is going to take all the methods in 3BUR to bring back our tree. We all agree that this is an audacious, long-term conservation rescue mission never before attempted at this scale, which is why we need to use all available knowledge and resources to reach our goals.
Let us continue to embody our core values: Optimism, Patience, Science-based Decisions, Innovation, Integrity, and Collaboration. Our mission is based on hope and innovation, and these attributes will carry us forward to overcome any challenges we may face. We will continue keeping you informed of our progress through TACF’s eSprout newsletter, updates on social media, and soon to be launched virtual “town hall” meetings. Join us on this amazing journey; we need each one of you to support us as we continue to grow and thrive.
TACF President and CEO