Dr. Hill Craddock, Davenport assistant professor of biology, biological and environmental sciences, calls restoring the American chestnut tree “the right thing to do,” especially since the blight that destroyed the US population of the American chestnut tree was caused by human carelessness.
The blight, imported to the U.S. on Asian chestnut trees in the early 1900s, is a fungus that spreads via spores in the air, raindrops or animals. By 1950, America’s population of mature chestnut trees was virtually wiped out. “It’s been called the worst ecological disaster in North America since the Ice Age, billions of trees over thousands of square miles of land,” said Craddock.
As part of a national restoration effort, Craddock and his team have been breeding blight resistant chestnut trees and planting them in forests and private orchards, which are operated by volunteer chestnut tree enthusiasts.