Resistant chestnuts thriving in national forests

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Blight-resistant American chestnut trees secretly planted a year ago in national forests in Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia are thriving.

That's according to officials with the U.S. Forest Service, the University of Tennessee and the American Chestnut Foundation, who revealed Wednesday the first-ever planting of 1,200 young chestnut trees in three unidentified national forests last winter.

The plantings included 500 trees that were crossbred with Chinese chestnuts to make them resistant to the blight that decimated the mighty chestnut forest throughout the Appalachian Mountains a half-century ago.

The experts say it may take 10 to 15 years to determine if the trees are truly blight resistant. But they are encouraged so far, and plan to plant another 1,000 seedlings in Tennessee and Virginia next year.

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