From Mr. Swatt:
Our state chapter is currently looking for climbing arborists who would like to help us restore an iconic species which has become functionally extinct since a blight fungus was introduced over 100 years ago. We are trying to breed a blight resistant American chestnut tree that we can hopefully use to repopulate the eastern forests someday. American chestnut trees growing healthy enough to flower and produce nuts are an uncommon occurrence and we are trying to conserve the genetic diversity of the species by planting nuts from these trees in Germplasm Conservation Orchards. Most surviving chestnut trees that we find are usually stunted and diseased from the blight, so the few that do flower and produce nuts are usually reachable with ladders. Occasionally, we do find some taller trees growing close to roads or trails that we can get a bucket truck close enough to harvest them. The taller chestnut trees growing out in the forests away from trails are the real challenge for us. Last year, one of the Eversource arborists that we were working with had mentioned seeing if some climbing arborists could help us with collecting burs from those trees, which led us to this request.
We have contacted some climbing arborists in the Northwest corner of the state who offered to help us with trees in that area. We are hoping to reach out to climbing arborists in all areas of the state who could help us with trees that are located in their vicinity. This year we were hoping to harvest burs from trees in Gillette’s Castle SP (East Haddam), Natchaug SF (Pomfret), town-owned conservation land in Plainfield, and on private property in Lebanon. We are continually being notified about chestnut trees throughout the year and more trees may be added to this list at any time. I understand that you are probably very busy given the recent tropical storm that came through the state. If you would like to help us, please let me know. We usually start harvesting burs in mid-September. If you know of any other climbing arborists who might also like to get involved, please feel free to forward them my contact information.