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7.09.2010

7 Trees and Timber: Part I

In “Trees of Wisconsin,” the Eastern (or Northern) White Pine (pinus strobes) is described as the Monarch of the North. The largest of the conifers (reaching 70-100 feet or about halfway up – 80 steps – the McGraw Tower) was the backbone of the Wisconsin timber industry. While these lands also contained an abundance of ash, maple, beech and birch, it was pine that drove the economy, land speculation and abundant profits.

Mature pines can easily be 200 to 250 years old. "Some white pines live over 400 years. A tree growing near Syracuse, New York was dated to 458 years in the late 1980s and trees in both Wisconsin and Michigan have approached 500 years in age." So foresight and patience are required if the majestic forests are to return to the northern parts of the Midwestern states.

I feel that I should know this tree, not only recognizing it upon sight (or a group of pines from a reasonable distance) but understand the central role it played in the lumber era of the 1800s and the generous payout presented to Ezra and his university (I'm confounding Amazon.com's predictive shopping models with my recent purchases).

Here are the stats: single tall trunk, with horizontal branching evenly spaced along the trunk; irregular crown (and a favorite home to the American Bald Eagle). The clustered needles (5 per cluster) are 3-5 “ in length, each is soft, flexible and with a triangular cross section.

For a better understanding of this subject, I called Cornell’s College of Forestry, but I’m 107 years too late.

Not "In Any Study"

In 1898, the New York State College of Forestry opened at Cornell, which was the first forestry college in North America. The College undertook to establish a 30,000 acre demonstration forest in the Adirondacks, funded by New York State. However, the plans of the school's director Bernhard Fernow for the land drew criticism from neighbors, and Governor Benjamin B. Odell vetoed the 1903 appropriation for the school. In response, Cornell closed the school. Moved to Syracuse.

Cornell eventually established a research forest south of Ithaca, the Arnot Woods. When New York State later funded the construction of a forestry building for the Agriculture school, Cornell named it Fernow Hall (after the great-grandfather of my classmate Lisa '79).

I'm calling Dr. Cornelius B. Murphy, Jr., president of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF). I want to ask him if we can have the forestry college back!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

At the close of the nineteenth century some of the best pine timber that remained in the Lake States was on Indian reservations in Minnesota. Lumbermen wanted to clear-cut but pressure from woman's club's to save the timber by creating a national park ultimately led to a compromise.

Congress acted : the Morris Act of 1902 ordered that the sale of timber on Indian reservations be for the benefit of the Indians residing there. Very importantly, the act stipulated that five per cent of the trees on certain lands in north-central Minnesota be kept as seed-trees to ensure the white and red pine reforestation of cut-over lands. This was the first instance of applying the most rudimentary principles of forestry or silviculture on any Federal lands in the United States.

The act applied to 200,000 acres which included Cass and Leech lakes. These lands became the Chippewa National Forest.

Early records indicate that the seed trees were relatively wind-firm. Post-logging decadence, induced by the sudden opening of the forest and consequent drying of the soil, was prominent and cumulative. Red pine seedling survival was far superior than survival of white pine seedlings. White pine is a favorite food of the snowshoe hare, which builds up to tremendous populations at cyclic intervals. The hare is regarded as the final inpediment to establishing natural regeneration of white pine over this project area.

Another new requirement of the Morris Act of 1902 was that the purchaser of the timber sale pile and burn timber slash in order to prevent forest fires.
Reference: Trees, Yearbook of Agriculture .1949. US Government Printing Office. pages 311-319