Item List

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Minnesota's White Pines

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To most people who live among them, the white pine is their favorite tree.

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These giants live up to 634 years and were once so plentiful a person could travel from the Atlantic shore to Minnesota and seldom be out of sight of them.

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For thousands of years, Minnesota's white pine forest was home to caribou , . . .

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. . . pine martens, and dozens of colorful birds like pine grosbeaks and red crossbills.

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The forest seemed destined to last for centuries. When cutting began, white pines larger than any in Minnesota today were common -- white pines up to six feet in diameter and over 150 feet tall.

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The rule for good forestry is to cut trees no faster than the forest grows new ones. This is called sustainable forestry. It's the only way to produce wood and keep our forests and wildlife -- and jobs in the timber industry.

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In Minnesota, white pines have always been cut at unsustainable rates, and we've nearly lost our white pine forests and our white pine industry.

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The rush to cut white pines started on the Atlantic Coast.

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Loggers cut their way west through Michigan and Wisconsin, gradually expanding America's frontier to the vast white pine forests of Minnesota.

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The green and red squares together represent Minnesota's 27 million acres of forests of all types before cutting began in 1837. The red square represents the three and a half million acres dominated by old growth white pine forest and mixed white and red pine forest.

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People thought Minnesota's white pine forests were inexhaustible -- and the forests did support a booming industry for almost a hundred years -- but in 1932 the white pine industry collapsed.