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Press Release: August 23, 2023


The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) is excited to announce the release of CLEAR DAY THUNDER: Rescuing the American Chestnut, a documentary about the grassroots efforts of passionate citizen scientists and researchers working to restore this ecologically and economically significant tree species.

The American chestnut once dominated portions of the eastern U.S. forests, from Maine to Mississippi. Numbering in the billions, the tree was one of the tallest and fastest growing in those regions. Pollinators depended on the flowers, and wildlife, livestock, and people relied on its nutritious nut. Tall and fast-growing, the tree’s wood was rot-resistant and straight-grained, making it an excellent source of lumber.

In the late 1800s a deadly blight, Cryphonectria parasitica, was inadvertently imported to the U.S. from Asia as global horticultural trade increased. The American chestnut had no resistance and in fewer than 50 years the fungus had eliminated it as a mature forest tree, rendering it functionally extinct.


Original native range of American Chestnut before the blight
Original native range of American Chestnut before the blight

TACF has been resolutely working for 40 years to restore this majestic tree, developing invaluable partnerships and utilizing the latest scientific advancements. This new documentary film showcases the unwavering commitment of staff, scientists, and volunteers who are determined to save the tree.

“We are thrilled to share this film with the world,” said Lisa Thompson, former President & CEO. “It tells the story of the American chestnut and the people who are working hard to bring it back to our forests. We hope that it will inspire others to join us in our mission to restore this iconic tree species.”

CLEAR DAY THUNDER: Rescuing the American Chestnut, features interviews with scientists, volunteers, and luminaries. Best-selling author Barbara Kingsolver, Rolling Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell, country music legend Dolly Parton, and former President Jimmy Carter are just a few of the well-known figures committed to this historic conservation effort.


The film is currently available for viewing through public and private screenings in local venues, garden clubs, libraries, and partner organizations throughout the tree’s native range. To view screenings, host a screening, and learn more about the film, visit https://www.rescuingtheamericanchestnut.com.


“We are grateful to Adams J. Wood Films and Collective Projects for their hard work in producing this film, and we are excited to share it with the world,” said Lisa Thomson. “We believe that it will raise awareness about the importance of preserving our natural environment and the need to work together to protect our forests.”

About The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) TACF is a conservation, education, and scientific nonprofit dedicated to preserving and restoring a foundation tree species. The organization’s mission is to return the iconic American chestnut to its native range. Its vision is a robust eastern forest restored to its splendor.

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