THE OZARKS, Mo.-- Conservationists in the Ozarks are brimming with excitement in hopes of bringing back a tree that was on the brink of extinction.
The tree is known as the legendary Chinquapin tree.
In the mid-1900s, the Chinquapin tree was thought to be entirely wiped out by Chestnut blight.
"Tree book experts and others told me, there are no trees around," explained Steve Bost, president and founder of the Chinquapin Foundation.
However, the word 'no' didn't stop the Missouri naturalist from searching for it. Bost says after decades of analysis, hunting and speaking with locals, he finally found one of the legendary Chinquapins.
Bost says the discovery was "indescribable."
"I mean, I think I floated 2 feet above the ground and I felt like I was in the stratosphere," cheerfully explained Bost.
He said the tree has nuts that are very high in protein, and sustain lots of wildlife-- while giving humans lots of fuel. He said it has about three to four times the protein of a white arcane, and double the protein of the American Chestnut.
Bost said he realized how important the discovery of the Chinquapin tree was, and proclaimed that he is going to do everything he can to save the species.
Following the identification of the Chinquapin, Bost has created a volunteer-driven, 501c3 non-profit organization. The Ozark Chinquapin Foundation is devoted to reviving pure Ozark Chinquapins by hand-pollinating the trees in secret.
The Ozark Chinquapin Foundation is inviting people to be a part of this revival and welcomes everyone to join. Members will receive seeds that are descendants from large, 100% pure Ozark Chinquapin trees to plant.
"It's about us preserving and saving these trees, so anybody can plant them who wants to, and bring this species back," said Bost.
Bost has 45 adult Chinquapin trees and is trying to develop a pure genetic line that is resistant to Chestnut blight.
If you would like to participate and grow one of these rare trees yourself, visit https://ozarkchinquapinmembership.org/about-the-tree/