Forest Landowners help rebound American elm and American chestnut

Efforts are underway to help re-establish the two previously widespread U.S. tree species

The American elm was a classic tree that was widespread in the eastern United States until the 1960’s when a fungi (which entered the U.S. accidentally from Japan) spread rapidly.

In just a short number of years it devastated these trees, which were revered throughout the landscape. The number of American elms killed by Dutch elm disease was estimated to be as high as 100 million.

Soon after the Elm Research Institute was formed to develop a disease resistant tree (named the American Liberty Elm). The Elm Research Institute of Keene, NH sells seedlings in lots of 25.

The American chestnut was similarly devastated by an Asian fungus blight, but more than 50 years earlier than the elm infestation. Prior to the late 1800’s chestnut trees were a dominant species in the northeastern U.S. They grew to 8 to 10 feet in diameter and produced a crop of as many as 10 bushels of nuts annually.

Now The American Chestnut Foundation is looking for landowners willing to partner in establishing test and demonstration orchards (on plots as small as one acre) in the eastern U.S. The foundation is based in Asheville, N.C. (

While Wisconsin is just outside the historic natural range of the American Chestnut, the foundation would be interested in landowners with well-drained forestland with sandy or acidic soil, according to Sara Fitzsimmons of the The American Chestnut Foundation. The landowners should have an interest in a research project that would require some maintenance activity.

Wisconsin elm transactions are tracked by Forest Data Network’s Pricing Report, with prices varying widely across the state. The average elm price for sawtimber (MBF) was $116 statewide, but much higher in northern parts of the state. Click here for more.

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