Reintroduction of American Chestnut in the National Forest System
American chestnut restoration depends on a multitude of biological, administrative, and technological factors. Germplasm traditionally bred for resistance to the chestnut blight disease caused by the exotic pathogen Cryphonectria parasitica has been deployed on national forests in the Eastern and Southern Regions of the National Forest System (NFS) since 2009. Trees were challenged by biological factors, primarily deer browse and ink disease (caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi). Because of these problems, inferences regarding resistance or tolerance to blight are premature. Mitigation to improve success includes improved technology in seedling production for planting and selection of appropriate test sites with limited management restrictions. We suggest that chestnut restoration within the USDA Forest Service be conducted through deployment of a series of long-term multidisciplinary tests. Limitations in resources required for this effort necessitate partnership building both within and outside the agency. Vegetation establishment targets that include chestnut test plantings within the NFS should be developed.