ASHEBORO-In conjunction with its Arbor Day festivities, the North Carolina Zoo will plant American chestnut trees at the park Friday, March 19, at 11 a.m.

The American Chestnut Foundation donated the trees to Trees NC, whose representatives will help plant the trees at the zoo. Guests from the American Chestnut Foundation and Trees NC will be at the event to help celebrate the planting. Bryan Burhans, president and CEO of the American Chestnut Foundation, and a representative from Trees NC are scheduled to speak.

The American chestnut tree once thrived in the Eastern United States from Maine to northern Florida and was one of the largest trees in the east, with diameters of more than 60 inches and heights of more than 100 feet.

In about 1904, a disease was introduced into the United States that spread quickly through the American chestnut trees. By 1950, almost all of the American chestnut trees were dead--about 4 billion trees covering more than 9 million acres of the east. Most of the American chestnut trees found today in the woods are sprouts from the stumps of those trees.

The zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Environment & Natural Resources, Dee Freeman, Secretary; Beverly Eaves Perdue, Governor.