In early March of 2020 Camcore established a new Carolina hemlock orchard located just outside of Linville Gorge, NC. This 500 seedling orchard marks our third conservation planting of Carolina hemlock and the fifth domestic seed orchard established in 2020. After 17 years of working with domestic seed collections for imperiled species located across the eastern US, it is extremely rewarding to see a portion of this germplasm going back into conservation plantings. Many thanks are extended to the North Carolina Forest Service for both allowing us to establish this orchard on their property and for clearing the site prior to the planting. We also greatly appreciate the labor from the NC Bridge Crew in helping to plant the seedlings as well as several volunteers with the NC Hemlock Restoration Initiative. Without the assistance from these three groups this three day planting would have easily taken closer to three weeks.
At this point we are actively pulling more domestic seed from additional provenances and species with hopes to germinate it shortly. With these future seedlings our goal is to maintain momentum in establishing additional conservation seeds orchards with our cooperators in the US.
In late January 2020 twenty individuals from Camcore and the USFS successfully planted nearly 1000 conifer seedlings into seed orchards in western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee. Over the course of one frigid day we established both a 300 seedling eastern hemlock seed orchard and a 168 seedling table mountain pine orchard at the USFS Beech Creek Genetic Resource Management Area (GRMA) in North Carolina. The following day these efforts were duplicated in the nearby Chilhowee, Tennessee GRMA under ominous grey skies.
These four seed orchards mark an important step forward in Camcores domestic conservation efforts and are hopefully the first of several more conservation plantings to come. These orchards were established in partnership with the USFS. Future seed produced will be shared by Camcore and the USFS. Genetic material produced in these orchards will be instrumental in conservation, restoration, and research of these threatened conifers endemic to the eastern US.
It should be noted that the establishment of these seed orchards would not have been possible without the impressive team from the USFS that came out to help with the planting. In addition to the planting team Camcore would like to single out Robin Taylor (USFS), Jason Rodrigue (USFS), and Drew McCarley (USFS) for helping to get this project implemented and in the ground.
Following the May 2018 exploration of thirteen reported Texas ash sites Camcore returned to Texas during the last week of June to collect seed from nine of these sites. Both explorations and collections were successful and would not have been possible without support from Texas State Parks, the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge, the Army Corp of Engineers, Austin City Parks, and the Tarrant County Water District. In total our collections consisted of seed from 80 new Texas ash trees located in nine different populations across central Texas. This collection captured material from much of the central portion of the species range. Future Texas ash seed collections will likely target outlier populations in Oklahoma as well as the southern and western edge of the range in Texas. While collections were a bit on the warm side and some of the samaras were not as mature as we would have liked we were extremely pleased to collect such large crops from so many new trees and make progress on this important conservation project done in collaboration with the US Forest Service.