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Dec 24, 2015 11:20 AM

UNH starts chestnut restoration project after east coast blight

The Associated Press

DURHAM— Hold off on lighting that open fire — chestnut trees being planted by the University of New Hampshire won't produce a crop for roasting for at least five years.

Officials hope the project will help restore a species that has been nearly wiped out by a blight that has killed trees from Georgia to Maine.

Students will begin clearing land this winter to prepare for the spring planting of 350 trees that have been cross-bred with blight-resistant strains. The project is a joint effort between the university's New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station and the American Chestnut Foundation.

Kendra Collins, the foundation's New England science coordinator, says American chestnuts were very common until about 100 years ago, when a fungal disease was accidentally brought into North America via imported trees.

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