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American chestnut restoration program on June 20

NEWTON, NC – The Newton Tree Board will host a presentation on The American Chestnut Foundation’s (TACF) work to restore American chesnuts to the eastern forests of the United States. The public is invited to this free program, which begins at at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 20 at the Newton Depot, 1123 N. Main Ave. Doug Gillis, President of the Carolinas Chapter of TACF, will be the featured speaker.

Once the mighty giants of the eastern forests, American chestnuts stood up to 100 feet tall, and numbered in the billions. They were a vital part of the forest ecology, a key food source for wildlife and an essential component of the human economy. In 1904, a blight, accidentally imported from Asia, spread rapidly through the American chestnut population. By 1950, it had killed an estimated four billion mature trees from Maine to Georgia. Several attempts to breed blight-resistant trees in the mid-1900s were unsuccessful.

In 1983, a dedicated group of scientists formed TACF and began a special breeding process, which in 2005 produced the first potentially blight-resistant trees called Restoration Chestnuts 1.0. Now assisted by almost 6,000 members and volunteers in 23 states, the organization is undertaking the planting of Restoration Chestnuts 1.0 in select locations throughout the eastern U.S. as part of the foundation’s early restoration efforts.

TACF is a 501(c)3 conservation organization headquartered in Asheville, N.C. For more information on TACF and its work to restore the American chestnut tree, contact TACF Director of Communications, Mila Kirkland at (828) 281-0047, mila@acf.org or visit www.acf.org