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Out & About: 16 Chestnut Trees Found in Enfield’s Smith Pond Shaker Forest

  • During the Upper Valley Land Trust's Chestnut Challenge, 16 chestnut trees were found in the Smith Pond Shaker Forest Conservation Area in Enfield. (Courtesy of the Upper Valley Land Trust)

  • During the Upper Valley Land Trust's Chestnut Challenge, 16 chestnut trees were found in the Smith Pond Shaker Forest Conservation Area in Enfield. (Courtesy of the Upper Valley Land Trust)

  • During the Upper Valley Land Trust's Chestnut Challenge, 16 chestnut trees were found in the Smith Pond Shaker Forest Conservation Area in Enfield. (Courtesy of the Upper Valley Land Trust)

  • During the Upper Valley Land Trust's Chestnut Challenge, 16 chestnut trees were found in the Smith Pond Shaker Forest Conservation Area in Enfield. (Courtesy of the Upper Valley Land Trust)



Valley News Calendar Editor
Monday, October 29, 2018

Enfield — The 16 chestnut trees found during the six-week Chestnut Challenge at Smith Pond Shaker Forest have given the Upper Valley Land Trust hope that there are even more in the 995-acre property that the nonprofit organization has owned since 2015.

“What we found on the property were three distinct groups of mature trees and two seedlings found not near any other trees,” said Alison Marchione, programs director at the Upper Valley Land Trust. “The trees range in size from seedlings, young trees and up to at least seven mature trees.”

Additionally, the largest tree found was 35 feet tall with a diameter of 7 inches, she said. Five of trees were 25 feet or taller. There were also five trees that are producing chestnuts.

“Given the number of trees found in a relatively short search time and in multiple easy-to-reach locations, we suspect that there are many more trees still to be found on the property,” Marchione said via email. “Having multiple groups of several mature trees is a good sign that the trees are pollinating and potentially producing viable seeds.”

All trees were mapped using the iNaturalist app, helping the organization and others invested in the Smith Pond chestnut trees keep track of them. The land trust plans of resuming the search for more chestnuts next year.

Mark Blanchard, of Orford, and his friends Peter LaBounty and Nancy Sandell, of Piermont, found 10 trees in a single two-hour outing, making them the winners of the challenge.

“I’ve always had an interest in the plight of the chestnuts,” Blanchard said. “I was somewhat familiar with the leaf and the appearance of it.”

Blanchard is also a fan of the wood that chestnut trees produce. He also once planted a breed of a chestnut tree that eventually succumbed to disease.

“I knew that there were a few scattered around New England,” Blanchard said. “I was very surprised that there were trees at Smith Pond.”

Blanchard and his friends delighted in the adventure.

“We had a grand time wandering in there,” he said. “God willing, the trees will survive.”

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.