American Chestnut trees used make up twenty-five percent of the Appalachian forest. A blight, in the early 1900s changed that, and today they’re all but gone from the forests from Georgia to Maine.
But the tree left us a way to resurrect it from the dead, and with it, a kind of message: Only with the help of human beings will the towering Chestnuts return.
"I was raised here in the valley and when I started hunting, about 1960 or so there were still these old gray giant trunks standing in the woods," says Carl Absher a semi-retired forester from the Catawba Valley.
Despite concerns about climate change, Virginia’s largest electric utility still generates more than half of its electricity from fossil fuels, and by 2027 Dominion Power expects to get nearly 60% of its power from coal and gas.
The state’s other electric utility, Appalachian Power, is also big on carbon-based fuel. By 2020, parent company AEP says 79% of its power will come from burning coal and gas.