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Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter Dedicate American Chestnut Tree Demonstration Site

Julie Benz Pottie

Atlanta, Ga. . . .The Carter Center is the home of an American chestnut tree demonstration site to be dedicated by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter on Sept. 21. The demonstration site donated by the American Chestnut Foundation features a backcross breeding program for strengthening the American chestnut against disease. The Foundation includes Carter Center co-founder Jimmy Carter and Center agriculture expert Dr. Norman Borlaug as honorary board members.

“The Carter Center is a wonderful place for us to be represented,” said Philip Pritchard, director of development for the American Chestnut Foundation. “So much of what the Center is doing revolves around creating a healthier planet. This project fits right in.”

The Carter Center site demonstrates the success of the backcross breeding program, intended to build blight-resistance in the American chestnut tree. The program will breed five generations, or “backcrosses,” of Chinese and American chestnut trees. The final tree will be comprised of fifteen-sixteenths American chestnut with the resistance of the original Chinese parent.

With its wide trunks and heights that stretched to 100 feet in the Eastern forests, the American chestnut was favored by wildlife and rural families alike throughout the 1800s and early 1900s for its nutritious nuts, an important cash crop for many Appalachian communities. As a straight hardwood lighter than oak and virtually rot resistant, chestnut timber was used for everything from railroad ties to musical instruments. A foreign fungus imported in 1904 devastated the tree, and by 1950, the king of the forest was nearly destroyed by the chestnut blight.

“As the then-new executive director of a small struggling nonprofit with a far-reaching vision, I was astounded to discover President Carter was so powerfully supportive of being personally involved in moving the chestnut mission forward,” said Marshal Case, president of the American Chestnut Foundation.

******* This event is open to the public. *******
Media should contact Julie Benz Pottie to register to attend the event.

When: Wednesday, Sept. 21
10:15 a.m.

Where: The Carter Center
One Copenhill
453 Freedom Parkway
Atlanta, GA 30307


The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide. A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, the Center has helped to improve life for people in more than 65 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; improving mental health care; and teaching farmers to increase crop production. Please visit to learn more about The Carter Center.

The American Chestnut Foundation is a non-profit organization with more than 5,000 members nationwide and chapters in 13 states. For more information about the Foundation or the American chestnut tree please visit our Web site at

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