The American Chestnut Foundation
(828) 713-9547 (cell)
For Immediate Release
September 4, 2009
Entertainer Dolly Parton recognizes work of her uncle and The American
Chestnut Foundation in ceremony today
Asheville, NC – World famous singer and entertainer Dolly Parton recognized the work of
The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF), a non-profit organization based in Asheville,
NC. The singer was honoring her uncle, singer Bill Owens, who has been a long-time
member of TACF in a special ceremony at Dollywood Park in Pigeon Forge, TN.
TACF presented one of its potentially blight-resistant American chestnut trees to Bill. Dolly
and Bill planted the tree near the stage where they both often perform. Bill and his wife
Sandy established and currently care for an orchard of American chestnut trees at Dollywood
Dr. Hill Craddock who grew the five-foot-tall tree in Chattanooga, TN, worked with Bill as
well as Asheville resident Dr. Paul Sisco to establish the American chestnut orchard at
Dollywood several years ago. According to Craddock, Bill Owens called him out of the blue,
‘a cold call’ if you will, about 12 years ago.
“ I’d never met Bill but he introduced himself as someone who grows trees at Dollywood,”
said Craddock. Dollywood was looking for a project that would mitigate environmental
impact of the millions of visitors to the park each year. “Today, I see Bill as Dollywood’s
environmental conscience and he’s been the key to this orchards,” said Craddock.
“It’s because of the passion of volunteers like Bill and Sandy who are out there every day that
allows TACF to continue its mission of restoring the American chestnut. We appreciate
Dolly helping us to honor Bill for his efforts in restoring this magnificent tree,” said Burhans,
president and CEO of TACF.
Bill Owens has championed the cause of protecting the natural environment at Dollywood
since 1986 and has made it his mission to help continue