All posts by Karen

Update on the status of the American chestnut

Richard Hines

Prior to the outbreak of the Chestnut Blight, American chestnut trees once occupied 25% of the entire forest canopy over most of the Eastern United States. Its loss was an ecological disaster and for years researchers have worked tirelessly attempting to find a strain of trees that would be resistant. After years of work there may be hope for the return of this forest giant. Thanks to an understanding of genetics and efforts of numerous scientists along with concerned citizens a solution may be close.

At the KWOA Conference this past March, Rick Caldwell presented the group with the latest findings on how the chestnut is fairing.

Caldwell, who is the Arborist for Bernheim Forest, and President of the Kentucky Chapter of the Chestnut Foundation said, “for the past 35 years, we have been doing traditional crossbreeding between the American chestnut and the Chinese chestnut”. In addition to normal crosses, researchers have been backcrossing trees continually trying to captive more of the American chestnut genetics. Intercrosses have also been used in every effort possible to restore this magnificent tree to the landscape.

Through these efforts, Caldwell said, “we now have a tree that is about 94% American and 6% Chinese”.  Overall, the result to this point is a tree referred to as the B3F3 tree. Through backcrossing three times plus additional intercrossing researchers are now working with a tree that for all practical purposes is 15/16 American Chestnut. The question will continue, how resistant and/or tolerant is this tree to the chestnut blight.

While the group continues working with traditional breeding programs, Caldwell described how the Foundation has a new transgenic tree that researchers at New York State University which has had a wheat gene inserted that has further helped improve resistance. Currently, this new tree is showing about 99% resistance. Before any releases of this new tree can take place or before this is introduced into the breeding program, both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency will have to approve the resulting tree. Caldwell added, “this is a very promising direction we are going, combining both transgenic and traditional breeding programs”. The process of developing a transgenic organism occurs when DNA material from another organism is inserted the target organism. In this case, a gene from wheat is being inserted into the experimental chestnut trees. Caldwell indicated that this may be the one that can finally start restoration efforts.

American Chestnut was such a large component of America’s eastern forests when it disappeared that researchers calculated that around 25 billion trees were lost. A tree that was essential to rural families for not only food, livestock feed, but lumber and numerous other wood products was essentially gone. From the standpoint of wildlife, the chestnut was the primary food consistently producing well over 5 to 10X the poundage of mast that oaks and other hardwood trees currently produce.  Unlike oaks, there is no variation in annual mast production due in part to a June flowering date which reduces susceptibility to early spring freezes.

An effort is underway to locate potential sites to establish mother orchards. If you are interested in becoming involved, you can contact Rick Caldwell at rcaldwell@bernheim.org or call him on his cell phone at 502-807-2257.

Stop deforestation and restore forests to solve biodiversity and climate change crises

Andrew Deutz from The Nature Conservancy regarding the new United Nations report on biodiversity:

One of the cheapest, most readily available and cost-effective things that we can do to both solve the biodiversity crisis and the climate crisis is, first, stop deforestation and, second, restore forests and then, third, change our agricultural practices to increase soil carbon and soil health.

Source: What Can Be Done To Prevent Mass Extinctions

May 12, 2019 on NPR Weekend Edition Sunday

Maintain Dirt and Gravel Forest Roads

The goal of this field guide is to provide examples of environmentally sensitive maintenance practices, which if implemented reduce erosion and sediment, maintain subsurface hydrologic connectivity, restore drainage density to more natural conditions, and eliminate diversion potential.

Additionally environmentally sensitive maintenance practices reduce long term maintenance costs and lengthen maintenance cycles.

Road Maintenance

 

Mark your calendar for the 2020 KWOA annual meeting

KWOA will continue its four-year series of American Tree Farm System themes with Recreation as the focus of its 2020 annual meeting.

It will also continue its celebration of its 25th year anniversary.

The annual meeting will convene March 24-25, 2020 at Lake Cumberland State Resort Park in south central Kentucky.

Programs in planning include trail building, medicinal plants, fishing, hunting and woodland safety and survival.

Updates and registration information will be posted as it becomes available.

2019 Appalachian Regional Restoration Initiative Conference

Restoring Productive Forests on Mine Lands in Ohio

Jul 24-25 at the Pritchard Laughlin Civic Center in Cambridge, Ohio

This two-day Mined Land Restoration Conference features expert presentations in the science, policy and implementation of reforestation on active mining sites, abandoned mine lands and previously reclaimed land. The second day includes site visits to several projects in various stages of forestry reclamation.

2019 ARRI Conference Announcement

Early registration is $125 until June 30th.

For more information…

Woodland Owner Webinar Series Recordings Available

UK Forestry and Natural Resources Extension recently partnered with some of its neighbor Forestry Extension programs to offer a woodland and wildlife webinar series. More than 30 Kentucky County Extension Offices hosted  the series.

 

The series featured forestry and wildlife experts from around the region with the final webinar highlighting programs and organizations available to support Kentucky’s woodland owners.

 

View the Woodland Stewards Webinar Series … “Getting to Know Your Woodlands: A Primer for Beginners Webinar Series“. http://www.forestrywebinars.net/webinars/woodland-stewards-webinar-series-introduction-to-your-woodlands

 

In addition to this webinar series, UK Forestry and Natural Resources Extension has more than 10 other webinar recordings that you can view for free… http://forestry.ca.uky.edu/previous_webinars

State Foresters concerned about Administration’s desire to reduce funding for state and private forestry programs

March 19, 2019 press release from the National Association of State Foresters

The president’s budget request for FY20 “would eliminate or cut all but one Forest Service State and Private Forestry program and reduce investments in state and family forests to just 2.5 percent of the overall Forest Service budget,” said Lisa Allen, NASF president and Missouri state forester.

Per the president’s budget request for FY20, funding for the Forest Stewardship program, the Forest Health Management Program on Cooperative Lands, and the State and Volunteer Fire Assistance programs would be cut by a combined $29.65 million from FY19 enacted levels. Funding for the Landscape Scale Restoration, Forest Legacy, and Urban and Community Forestry programs would be eliminated.

Kentucky Forest Sector Economic Contribution Report Available

A recent analysis of Kentucky’s forest and wood industries indicated an estimated direct economic contribution of $8.5 billion and direct employment of over 26,000 Kentuckians in 2018. The total economic contribution was estimated at $13.5 billion with more than 60,000 jobs.

Kentucky remains one of the leading producers of hardwood forest products in the south and exports wood products across the nation and the world. The University of Kentucky Department of Forestry and Natural Resources has been documenting the Kentucky forest sector’s economic contribution since 2012.

 

To learn more about the economic contribution of Kentucky’s forest and wood industries …

 

2019 Kentucky Woodland Owners Short Course Registration is OPEN

The University of Kentucky Department of Forestry and Natural Resources Extension along with many partners have developed the 2019 Kentucky Woodland Owners Short Course (WOSC) to help woodland owners get the most out of their woodland ownership experience. (KWOA is a WOSC sponsor.)

The 2019 WOSC consists of three full-day regional programs in East, Central and West Kentucky. These regional educational programs were developed by local

planning committees. Each regional program includes two different programming tracks featuring both indoor and outdoor presentations including a visit to a nearby woodland owner. Each track features forestry, wildlife and natural resource professionals from across Kentucky covering a wide variety of topics – there is sure to be something for everyone! Individuals as well as couples are encouraged to attend the regional event closest to their woodland property.

 

Complete schedule of topics  and online registration

 

July 20, 2019

West Kentucky Woodland Owners Short Course

Logan County Extension Office and Henry Duncan’s Tree Farm

 

August 10, 2019

Central Kentucky Woodland Owners Short Course

Washington County Extension Office and Danielle and Jason Hagler’s Woodland

 

August 24, 2019

East Kentucky Woodland Owners Short Course

Clay County Extension EXCEL Center and Jimmie Sizemore Tree Farm