The Consultant - 2007 - (Page 26)

CONSULTANT’S FORUM Returning the American Chestnut to Our Forests BY BRUCE WAKELAND, ACF D Dick Will, vice-president of The American Chestnut Foundation, stands by the current Indiana state champion American chestnut tree. It is 28 inches DBH and growing one inch in DBH per year. Photos courtesy of Bruce Wakeland, ACF URING THE SUMMER OF 1975, I was doing an inspection to determine the management needs of a client’s woodland located south of Valparaiso, Indiana. This 15-acre woodland was an overstocked, even-aged woods consisting of some very good-looking 8-to-10-inch DBH black cherry, black oak and black walnut. Nearly all the trees originated from stump sprouts that resulted from a 20-to-25-year-old clear-cut. Halfway into the woods, I came across an incredibly vigorous tree that had excellent form and double the size of the other trees. By the end of my inspection, I had found four more of these trees ranging in size from 16 to 22 inches DBH and some small seedlings in the under story. I took some leaf and twig samples home and confirmed my guess that they were impressive American chestnut trees. This was a good timber-producing site with the oak, cherry and walnut growing quite well at nearly half an inch in DBH per year. The American chestnuts were taller and growing twice as fast at nearly one inch in DBH per year. I learned this is a normal growth rate for American chestnut. As a result of this finding, I was hooked. In 1986, I returned to the same woods to do timber stand improvement work and found that during the years since 1975, the chestnut blight had found its way to the woods and killed all five of the large chestnut trees. The owner gave me two of the dead trees in lieu of payment for the work I had just completed. I harvested the trees and sawed them into lumber. I have used the lumber for a number of projects over the years. During the summer of 2004, I traded 24 board feet from these trees to artist Bruce Lyndon Cunningham to make picture frames for his American chestnut prints. He gave me a framed American chestnut print as payment for this lumber. He later used part of this lumber to make the frame for the American chestnut print given to President George W. Bush when an American chestnut tree was planted on the White House lawn last year. Valparaiso, Indiana, is about 50 miles southeast of Chicago and about 200 miles north of the closest commonly known natural range of the American chestnut in south central Indiana. I think these trees were naturally occurring. They lived as long as they did because they were mostly isolated from other American chestnuts and from the blight, which eventually found and killed them. This fungus blight disease killed almost all American chestnuts during the first half of the 20th century. It started in the New York area before World War I, working its way through the Appalachian mountains from Maine to Alabama and then west to southern Indiana by 1935. The American chestnut tree had been the most common and most important tree species east of the Mississippi River and was nearly eliminated from our forests in 26 THE CONSULTANT 2007

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Consultant - 2007

Executive Director’s Message Embracing Change
President’s Message Meeting the Challenge of the Fragmenting Forest
Forest Fragmentation
Parcelization: Different Owners, Different Practices
The New Generation of Private Forest Landowners: Brace for Change
Struggles Facing Wisconsin’s Professional Loggers
Saving Our Forests from a Fragmented Future
Selling the Business: Sequential Planning Versus Parallel Planning
A Survey of Consulting Forestry Education in Accredited Forestry Programs
Returning the American Chestnut to Our Forests
Woody Biomass for Energy – Has Its Time Come?
Meet the New ACF President
ACF Education Committee Looks to the Future
Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens Receives American Chestnut
Mississippi ACF/SAF Student Challenge
ACF National Conference Reflections
Harry Murphy: A Life in Consultation

The Consultant - 2007