Environmental experts at the Blue Grass Army Depot are working with several conservation organizations to propagate the American chestnut tree.
“In 2004, we planted a grove of 100% American chestnut trees provided by the American Chestnut Cooperators’ Foundation on depot grounds,” said Daniel Walker, environmental engineer, Blue Grass Army Depot. “We collected 668 seeds this past fall and provided them to the University of Kentucky Forest Health Laboratory for cataloguing. They then went to the Kentucky Division of Forestry for storage and germination.”
When the saplings are ready, the depot will receive a percentage of them back, to plant in a different location and continue the conservation process, Walker said. The goal is to help develop American chestnut trees that are resistant to the blight that began ravaging the nation’s population of them more than a century ago by reproducing trees that have survived the blight.
“It’s great that this effort is going on not far from where we’re working to make the world a better place by destroying chemical weapons,” said Todd Williams, environmental engineer, Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant. “On the one hand, we’re working to eliminate something deadly from the planet, and on the other hand, they’re working to reestablish something beneficial that had almost been eliminated.”
Another Blue Grass partner, Eastern Kentucky University, is also working on an American chestnut conservation program, and the depot hopes to work with them at some point as well, Walker said.