Lois and Denis Melican, of The American Chestnut Foundation for MA and RI, will be the guest speakers at the Laurel Hill Association's Annual Meeting, to be held on Wednesday, January 31, at 7:00 pm in the Stockbridge Library's Bement Room.
Lois and Denis will give an update on the American Chestnut Foundation's Chestnut Breeding Program, which is developing blight-resistant American chestnut trees with the goal of restoring the tree to its native forests along the eastern United States. The Laurel Hill Association's Chestnut Preserve, on Route 7, half mile south of the Red Lion Inn, is one of the program's breeding sites.
The American chestnut, nicknamed the Eastern Sequoia, was the major hardwood tree in the eastern U.S. It was among the largest, tallest, and fastest-growing trees in the forest. Its wood was rot-resistant, straight-grained, and suitable for furniture, fencing, and building. The nuts fed billions of birds and animals. It was almost a perfect tree—before a fungal blight killed 4 billion trees in the first half of the 20th Century.
The Laurel Hill Association has been involved in the American Chestnut Foundation's backcross breeding program for the last decade. The breeding program crosses Chinese chestnut trees, which are naturally resistant to the blight, with American chestnuts. Over the course of many generations, the program is producing blight-resistant American chestnut trees.
The meeting will open with the Association's Business Meeting. The guest presentation will begin at 7:30. The meeting is free, and all are welcome. Refreshments will be served.