American Chestnut Project Proposed for River Hill

The American Chestnut tree disappeared from eastern forests about 100 years ago due to an imported fungus called the “chestnut blight.” American Chestnut trees are very important to the ecosystem. They provided food and shelter for many animals and when they existed comprised nearly a quarter of the tree species in the forests. The Columbia Association’s Open Space Management Division (OSM) is collaborating with the American Chestnut Cooperator’s
Foundation (ACCF) to help restore the American Chestnut to its former place in eastern hardwood forests. OSM has developed a project to plant seeds provided by the ACCF in Columbia Association open space. The seeds are from trees that naturally survived the blight and therefore have a higher chance of survival. Following planting, OSM will monitor the tree growth for blight resistance and report the results to the ACCF.

After evaluating several areas for the project, a hillside in the open space between Ocean Shore Lane and River Run has been identified as the best site for the seeding project. This site was chosen because American Chestnuts prefer full sunshine and an east-facing slope. A diagram showing the proposed location is provided. A split rail fence is proposed to surround the area to protect the seedlings and to improve the aesthetic appearance of the planting site. OSM hopes to begin planting in mid-late November.

Representatives from OSM presented the plans to the Village’s Board of Directors at the November 5 meeting. You may direct comments to Sean Harbaugh, CA OSM, at 410-312-6330 until November 21.

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