Public Comment Sought on American Chestnut Restoration Project

American Chestnut Project researcher Linda McGuigan checks on American chestnut seedlings
American chestnut project researcher Linda McGuigan checks on American chestnut seedlings. esf.edu

“We are at a critical juncture with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as they review our petition for determination of the non-regulated status of the blight-resistant Darling 58 American chestnut,” said Dr. William Powell, director, American Chestnut Research & Restoration Project.

Powell and his team are asking for faculty and staff’s help in the process. The USDA 60-day public comment period began on Aug. 19 and closes Oct. 19. 

“This is your opportunity to submit a comment and let USDA regulators know what the restoration of the American chestnut means to you,” said Powell.

Those interested in adding a comment of support are asked to visit the project’s petition on the Federal Register and follow the instructions given on the webpage.

The American Chestnut Foundation has prepared a series of documents to help people navigate the comment process.

You can also view an award-winning short-form video about ESF’s American chestnut restoration project.

“The best way you can help the American Chestnut Research and Restoration Project at ESF is by voicing your support of the transgenic American chestnut as a forest restoration tool,” said Powell, “and by sharing the links with friends and family to gain their support as well.”

Bonus Nafisa Post: The Woodsmen Team at ESF Ranger School

Nafisa competing in the “Pulp Toss” event at a SUNY-ESF Woodsmen Team home meet in the Town of Tully.
From Nafisa Tabassum

You might wonder how it’s possible to become involved in any extracurricular activity when you have a 21-22 credit course load and 8 hours of classes a day followed by homework for the rest of the evening. I wondered the same thing when I joined the SUNY ESF Woodsmen Team during the first semester of Ranger School. 

We practiced two days a week, usually right after dinner. At Ranger School everyone lives in the dorm and eats in the dorm at designated meal times. We would start out by setting up the site, just past the student parking lot. We hauled out equipment and often went with our coach to get logs of young white pine which we would debark and practice on. 

There were a number of events we practiced for: H-chop, crosscut saw, bow saw, cookie stack, and many others! Among my favorite events were H-chop, crosscut saw, and cookie stack. We competed almost every weekend for most of the fall semester. Because of COVID-19, however, all meets and practices for the spring semester were cancelled.

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Nafisa’s Onondaga Earth Corps Chronicles: Chapter 2

Mid-summer harvesting at Salt City Harvest Farm in Kirkville, New York, where New Americans can grow crops from their family cultures. Photo by Nafisa Tabassum
Nafisa Tabassum:
Most of the week of July 13 was spent working at home because of a potential COVID-19 exposure, but fortunately I was back in the field by the end of the week. While I couldn’t spend much time in the field, I had several days to work on my AmeriCorps leadership project. As an AmeriCorps member, I must complete a set amount of hours doing direct service, such as pruning trees or tending green infrastructure. I am also responsible for completing a leadership project, which has to serve the community, Onondaga Earth Corps, or both.

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Nafisa Tabassum: Onondaga Earth Corps Chronicles

We are excited to be following the progress of former student ambassador to NY ReLeaf, Nafisa Tabassum, who at the time of ReLeaf was working as an urban forest technician with Syracuse City Arborist Steve Harris. Nafisa earned her degree in Sustainable Energy Management from SUNY-ESF in 2019. She attended ESF Ranger School as part of her education, and she delivered the 2019 Commencement Address to her peers. Nafisa will be writing the Onondaga Earth Corps Chronicles for us this summer.