Throughout the year, TACF volunteers spend hundreds of hours in booths at various types of shows talking to people about all things chestnut. One would think that these shows would be great places to sell memberships, but they aren’t. They ARE great places to talk. Just last weekend, I spent 7 hours in a booth at the Grand Opening of Duke Farms near Hillsborough, NJ. I don’t think 5 minutes went by that we weren’t explaining who we are and what we do to someone, or trying to figure out whether a suspicious tree in someone’s yard is an American chestnut or not (usually not). Thankfully, a TACF volunteer from New Jersey and my son Luke were more than happy to do most of the talking. It was like most time I’ve spent in a TACF booth – constant interest and constant information exchange. Before I got home, I had two e-mails (on Sunday) asking for more information about TACF. Someone even called me on Sunday morning! So, we are grateful to our volunteers who put in so many hours at these shows and expos telling the chestnut story. They really are great opportunities.
The first planting supported by TACF’s Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) got underway the last week in April in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania (north of Harrisburg). Led by TACF Forester Michael French and Regional Science Coordinator Sara Fitzsimmons, dozens of volunteers once again did the heavy lifting. There will be 12, 30-acre plantings in 5 states during the 3-year life of the CIG. All of the plantings will occur on previously reclaimed minelands that are currently grass or on minelands being actively reclaimed. The trees used in planting the 30 acres include hundreds of potentially blight-resistant (B3F3) chestnuts and an assortment of quality hardwoods. The Office of Surface Mining – Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative, is a major partner in this effort. CIG grants are administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.