Mariton: Planting American Chestnuts
by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager
Yesterday, Mike and Kieu Manes planted American Chestnuts at Mariton. The Manes’ are active volunteers in The American Chestnut Foundation as well as the Appalachian Mountain Club. Their hiking on The Trail led them to the discovery of American Chestnut trees, which led them to learn more about these trees and get involved. Last fall I collected several nuts from the American Chestnut trees that the Guerrero’s planted here, and gave the seeds to Mike and Kieu to germinate. They also brought seeds from two other sources.
We planted the seeds on one of the logging roads left over from cleaning up after Hurricane Sandy. From the beginning, I’ve wanted to return these areas to wildlife habitat, rather than become trails for humans. There is already some natural regeneration of tree seedlings, but we will augment that with some tree plantings, including these American Chestnuts.
After the first couple seeds, the three of us developed a system. I went ahead, chose a site, broke up the soil with a shovel, and drove a stake for a protective tube. Mike came behind and chose which strain should be planted there. He labeled and set up the tubes for placement after the planting. Then Kieu fine tuned the soil, planted the seed, and installed the tube. These shorter tubes protect the seeds from squirrels, who would love to dig them up for food. (Natural Lands Trust uses higher tubes on our big tree plantings to protect young trees from deer browsing.) Later on, I’ll put protective fencing around tree seedlings to protect them from the deer.
American Chestnuts have an interesting history at Mariton, and it is neat that now we are part of that history.