Topic – Citizens Restoring American Chestnuts (CRAC)
Speakers – Katia Engelhardt and Steve Keller, Appalachian Laboratory
Native plant species play a critical role in maintaining ecosystem services within a watershed, such as maintaining high water quality, filtering nutrients, supporting complex food webs, and stabilizing the ecosystem in the face of natural and human-induced perturbations. Our program, Citizens Restoring American Chestnuts (CRAC), is a citizen science effort that directly involves western Maryland residents in “cracking the code” to re-establish an important native tree in our forests, the American chestnut (Castanea dentata). The goal of the CRAC program is to increase western Maryland citizens’ awareness and knowledge of native plants and the importance of their restoration by focusing on the American chestnut—a charismatic native species that once dominated our forests but has disappeared as a canopy tree because of a non-native fungal infection called the chestnut blight.
In this presentation, we will discuss the ecological restoration of native species, using American chestnuts as an iconic example. At the end of the presentation, participants will be invited to sign up for our citizen science planting project (all citizen scientists must be over 18 years old, but children can participate by partnering with an adult). By signing up, participants will be invited to an American chestnut planting workshop this Spring (2013) at the Appalachian Laboratory in Frostburg, MD, where they can adopt 1-4 seedlings of native American chestnut to plant out on their own property. Participants will then monitor the growth and survival of their trees, share their data with other CRAC participants and scientists to facilitate the restoration of this important forest tree, and learn more about the ecology and restoration efforts being developed for American chestnuts through periodic CRAC newsletters.
This program will begin immediately following a brief MNPS chapter business meeting. The public is welcome to attend.
Directions: From I-68 take exit 33 (Braddock Rd & Midlothian Rd exit). Follow Braddock Road approximately .2 miles to the entrance to the Appalachian Lab on the left side of the road (301 Braddock Road). There is plenty of parking in front of the building.