(SALEM) - A group of Salem High School students are in an elite group, the only group participating in a research project with Purdue University to help save the chestnut tree.
Marcia Walker of the Leader Democrat reports that the American Chestnut, once the most prevalent trees in forest have just about all been wiped out by blight.
The students have planted 90 chestnut trees, 30 American, 30 Chinese and 30 hybrids on six acres on the north side of the school's outdoor lab.
Helping students with the projects is Consulting Forester Nathan Kachnavage.
American Chestnuts were used for flooring, railroad ties, fence posts and telephone poles, until blight wiped out almost all of them.
Chinese chestnuts are resistant to the blight and researchers have been developing a hybrid that is close to American chestnut but blight resistant. The idea is to develop a variety that can be re-introduced to American forests.
Carroll Ritter, environmental education coordinator with the Sycamore Land Trust and who is leading the project says the 30 American chestnut trees planted by the students will inevitability get the blight, but by planting all three varieties, students can observe the differences as the trees grow.
The creation of the outdoor lab was made possible by a $10,000 grant from Monsanto.
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