Chestnuts at Lesesne State Forest

On Saturday, September 16th Tom Wild led walks for both RMN and CATS members at the Chestnut orchards in Lesesne State Forest. It was a perfect late summer day and a wonderful way to spend some time together outdoors. We Learned about the history of the land, which was donated for American Chestnut tree research and the tree breeding program work being done to save this tree.

Tom explained the human assisted pollination method by using collected pollen, cutting off the tree’s male catkins and bagging the female flowers. This ensures that the researchers know the parent’s genetics and the ratio of Chinese to American characteristics of the resulting nuts.  A bucket truck is used to work in the tree’s canopy to install the bags.

Some bags have an additional mesh covering due to the sensitive nature of the research providing extra protection from wind and critters.

Tom went on to describe the differences in the bark due to age or the presence of chestnut blight. Leaves, burs, nuts and bark were examined and the details that distinguish the difference between an American and a Chinese Chestnut were discussed.

Trees we visited at a second location in the forest have an interesting experimental history. The rootstock was irradiated, the parent trees died and then American Chestnuts were grafted onto the root base. 

Many thanks to Tom for this wonderfully informative and interesting talk and tour of the site at Lesesne State Forrest.

Photo credit: JoAnn Dalley

Top Tree photo: M. Spear

Waynesboro Greenway Cage Project

On Saturday August 12, CATS and Headwaters Master Naturalists joined forces in Waynesboro to replace beaver cages around planted trees along the Greenway.   The shaded path and breeze down by the river and enthusiasm all around made for a perfect workday. We assisted over 50 trees including; river birch, willow oak, London plane trees, cherry, sycamore, and others.  

This project was the brainchild of Breyette Covington (CATS class of 2022) who lives in Waynesboro and is also Master Naturalist.    It has been a dream of hers to bring both groups together to support trees in her hometown.  Breyette worked with Tree Steward Kathy Nepote  and Stephen Black (Horticulturalist for the City of Waynesboro) to make this project become a reality.

Special thanks to Allen Ingling for tackling the “poison ivy tree”, thus protecting those of us who are so allergic. Shout out to current CATS trainee Doug Speck for joining us!   We were also joined by Diana and David Covington who proved to be valuable and joyful assistants.

This is the first collaboration between CATS and Headwaters Master Naturalists and we look forward to more adventures in the future!

Teen Volunteer Fair

The Gordon Avenue library hosted a Teen Volunteer Fair from 2– 4 PM on Saturday, August 5th. Tim Maywalt, Kathy Nepote, Anne Benham, and Gregg Korbon staffed the table and provided information and Tootsie Roll Pops to local teens and parents seeking community volunteer opportunities. Tree walks, planting/pruning/invasive removal work parties, and tree classes were described and nine teens signed up for our email list. Several more individuals said they would visit the CATS website for future events, and would plan to attend those of interest.

A new, hands-on activity joined the usual tabling materials and seemed to capture the teen’s attention: a model, wire tree in need of pruning. Teens and parents who could identify four branches in need of pruning (of 12) received a prize – an individually wrapped prune. This was no ordinary prune, however. In teen campfire tradition, the prune is known as an ancient symbol of wisdom. Wrinkles are a sign of wisdom (especially in CATS members) and nothing has more wrinkles than a prune. As the Prune Song goes, “We have wrinkles on our face, but a pruney has them everyplace.” Many proud teens and parents left the CATS table holding high their prunes as signs of newly acquired Pruning Wisdom. A good time was had by all as our youth outreach continues.