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Patuxent Institution Inmates Help Restore an Iconic Endangered American Tree

(April 12, 2013) --- Male and female inmates at the State's highly regarded Patuxent Institution are playing a role in restoring an iconic American tree that has been decimated by a lethal fungus, the latest of many interesting restorative justice programs undertaken by the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS). photo1

The American Chestnut was known as the "redwood of the East," with billions of trees covering the forests from the Ohio Valley to New England and the deep South. But a deadly fungus has left researchers struggling for decades to restore the tree in the hopes of one day making more chestnuts blight-resistant.

This month, the Maryland Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation came to Patuxent and helped inmates haul more than 600 eighteen-inch-tall American Chestnut seedlings out. The inmates - who will receive Master Gardener certificates upon completion of the prison horticulture program - lovingly cared for the seedlings under the watchful direction of Correctional Maintenance Sergeant and horticulture instructor Bud Tarleton.

The successful partnership marked a milestone: the first time in Maryland that American Chestnuts have been greenhouse-grown from the seed stage.

Patuxent and DPSCS are happy to continue the collaborative effort with the American Chestnut Foundation, and look forward to having more inmates help to restore this iconic tree.