Wildlife Research Institute
Non-Profit Research and Education Since 1971

The White Pine Society

White Pine News

The Planet, June 1997, Volume 4, number 5

State of the States

Focus on Herbicides, Bears, Koa in State Forests

White Pines Restored in Minnesota

When Lynn Rogers, Minnesota's nationally known bear expert, contacted the Sierra Club in 1995 about the drastic decline of white pines -- critical sites for black bear dens -- the North Star Chapter helped draft the Restore the White Pine bill. It called for a moratorium on cutting white pines until the state Department of Natural Resources could develop a sustainable harvesting plan. "We found sympathetic legislators to introduce the bill," says Judy Bellairs, Chapter legislative director, "and our forestry committee called members in key districts urging them to contact their legislators in support of the bill." Rogers presented his slide show at a hearing in the House Environment Committee and explained the dramatic 98 percent loss of the majestic white pine. Two lumber-mill owners testified in opposition, but the bill passed nearly unanimously.

To galvanize Senate support, the chapter helped organize a field trip to northern Minnesota for senators to see the problem firsthand. At this point, the DNR got the message and established a scientific work group to recommend white pine regeneration strategies.

This year, almost two years after the Restore the White Pine bill was introduced, the governor, northern Minnesota legislators, loggers and environmentalists are calling for $750,000 a year to fund planting, maintenance and research on white pines. The DNR has agreed that the central goal of white- pine management on state land should be to enhance white-pine habitat and maintain the pines' regenerative capacity.

The DNR has also agreed to provide an annual report on the status of white pines, to allow them to grow to at least 180 years old (minor thinning would still be allowed), to double the acreage of young white-pine trees within seven years, to assure that white-pine seed sources remain and allow for public input before trees are cut. As the St. Paul Pioneer Press recently proclaimed: "White pines win as environmentalists, foresters bury hatchet."