Fans of Barbara Kingsolver who've read her "Prodigal Summer" are aware of the plight of the American Chestnut tree. A sub-theme of the novel is the destruction of the trees in the early 1900's. When the trees began to die out, locals cut down the majestic trees to be able to use the wood before it became too rotted to be valuable. Unfortunately, it nearly made the species extinct.
This month the National Geographic magazine reports that :
Blight-resistant American chestnuts on a Virginia research farm are striking back at the fungal disease that wiped out four billion of the majestic trees in the early 1900's. The superior pollen of this newly developed breed may be the key to protecting trees from Maine to Alabama-and returning Appalachia to a time when spring meant American chestnuts in bloom. Plant pathologist Fred Hebard has been on a 40-year crusade to do just that. He and his team pollinated about 500 trees last summer. Hundreds of devoted volunteers tend those trees and others in the foundation's orchards. Next year they'll sow a handful of forest test sites with what they hope are the first blight-resistant nuts. How will Hebard gauge success? "When I'm long gone, and someone 50 years from now measures one of our trees in the forest-a hundred feet and thriving."