May 20 – That Old Chestnut

Today’s Factismal: The Appalachian Trail is the most-hiked trail in North America; more than 13,000 people have hiked its entire 2,200 mile length.

Stretching from Maine to Georgia, the Appalachian trail is the second-longest trail in the USA. Every year, more than 4,000 people walk part of the trail and about 500 walk the entire length. And no wonder. As you walk along the Appalachian trail, you are surrounded by natural beauty. You’ll see mountains, bobcats, deer, quail, woodpeckers, pines, oaks, and chestnuts. But you won’t see as many chestnuts as you once would have. That’s because the American chestnut tree is under attack by the chestnut blight. As a result, where every third tree along the trail was a chestnut in 1900, today it is only every tenth tree.

Trees along the Appalachian Trail. Can you find the chestnut?

Trees along the Appalachian Trail. Can you find the chestnut?

The view along the Appalachian Trail is a lot less majestic without the chestnuts!

The view along the Appalachian Trail is a lot less majestic without the chestnuts!

But there is hope. Some American chestnuts have managed to beat the disease. And a hybrid of the American and Chinese chestnut has been introduced that may help restore the Appalachian trail to its former chestnut-rich glory. But the scientists doing this work need your help. The Chestnut Mega-Transect Project seeks to map the density of chestnuts all along the Appalachian trail. To participate, you just need to hike a mile or more along the trail and note the location and number of chestnuts that you see. If you’d like to help, then head on over to their website!
http://ecosystems.psu.edu/research/chestnut/reports/mega-transect

One thought on “May 20 – That Old Chestnut

  1. Pingback: May 27 – The Beautiful Ones | Little facts about science

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