Boundary Waters   Lee E. Frelich
  Jun 14, 2004 06:35 PDT 

Paul, Phil et al.:

I agree that needle shedding is common on newly planted pines. White pines
at your latitude usually keep three years worth of needles during the
summer, and shed the three-year old set in September, so that they carry
two sets of needles during the winter, which is a time of
stress. Similarly, being planted in a new area, and also droughts and
floods can cause stress, and result in shedding of older needles earlier
than normal. The lifespan of needles is one thing evergreens can change in
response to the environment. Pines in the far north commonly keep needles
longer than in the south (northern MN for example, where white pines keep
four years worth of needles). The pattern is that if growing in an
environment that is always stressful, like northern MN, they keep needles
longer, and those needles are shorter and thicker, but if exposed to short
term stress such as drought or flood, they keep needles for a shorter time
than would be normal for the area.

There are also interesting patterns in needle lifespan among species. White
and black spruce, for example, keep needles for 6-8 years in northern MN,
as compared to 4 for white pine. This enables spruce to better take
advantage of the short growing season. I was just in northern MN this last
weekend. Spruces already have a fully developed set of new needles, whereas
white pine hasn't even started to form its candles yet, and in fact just
100 miles further north, white pine drops out of the forest because it
can't always finish growth of new needles before fall sets in around the
end of August.

My trip this weekend was to highlight a potential addition to the Boundary
Waters Canoe Area Wilderness that the Forest Service wants to log. The
usual entourage of newspaper photographers and TV cameras followed me
through the woods for about 5 hours to document the site. We found a
magnificent 400 year old white pine about 12-13 feet cbh, and several nice
groves of 200-300 year old red pines, and a 400 year old red pine. There
was also a population of Hooker's Orchid (Bob, didn't we see some Hookers
orchid at MTSF when I was there?)

Its kind of a late spring in northern MN. Along Lake Superior, many trees
still don't have leaves, while inland there are small light green leaves on
the aspen and birch. Lilacs will start to bloom around the 4th of July.
Downtown Duluth was the usual 50 degrees, and Lake Superior was its usual
nasty self with a 30 mph wind and 6-8 foot waves blasting into the harbor.
You couldn't walk the lakeside boardwalk without a rain coat to protect
yourself from the towers of spray the waves made when they hit the rocks.

Questions for Lee   Robert Leverett
  Jun 14, 2004 07:09 PDT 


   How large is the new area that the Forest Service wants to log? What
are their stated reasons for wanting to log it? What would it be like
after they logged it? Thirty years later? Do you see any validity in any
of their arguments? It is starting to look to me as if the kind of
thinking that ran the FS in the pre-Jack Ward Thomas days is on the
rise. Are we facing a new generation of rightwing boneheads? Any
validity in my fears, at least from where you set?

    You are right about the Hooker's Orchids in Mohawk.

Re: Questions for Lee   Lee Frelich
  Jun 14, 2004 18:20 PDT 


There are a series of about 20 roadless sites, many that are under the
Clinton roadless rule, around the Boundary Waters Canoe Area
Wilderness. They total about 90,000 acres, of which perhaps 70,000 acres
is forest. None of this land is proposed to be reserved under the new
forest plan. The degree to which the Clinton rule will protect any of these
areas is ambiguous and unknown at present. The area we walked is a small
1400 acre unit. This forest will sprout back to aspen if logged and grow
back into forest within 10 years, but the amount of money to be made is
trivial since it would all be used for pulp. To regenerate the red and
white pine after logging, it would take substantial money and effort. If
part of the wilderness, natural fires would regenerate it.

I don't think we are seeing a new generation of right wing boneheads. We
are seeing the last gasp of the old generation trying to cut everything for
one time financial gain without regard for the future. Actually, I don't
think any of the staff of Superior NF wants to log any of these areas, I
think they are under orders to do so from the regional FS office.

Regarding the Hooker's orchid, make sure you get a GPS reading for any
significant populations, since it is a species that should be monitored
because it is susceptible to overpopulations of deer and invading European
earthworms. It is one of my favorite plants. It is named after the
botanist Hooker from the 1700s, not the red light district.

RE: white pine regeneration   Lee E. Frelich
  Jun 16, 2004 08:07 PDT 


White pine is probably the least sensitive species to soil and climate that
I know of. It grows on solid slabs of granite and in swamps.

All it needs is the presence of seed source, absence of dense shade from
other trees and especially shrubs when young and not to be eaten by deer
before reaching the height of at least 6 feet.

The deer were not a problem on our study sites for this paper around the
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness near Ely, MN, and the Gunflint Trail,
MN because any deer with any sense gets out before the snow becomes 3 feet
deep for four months with -50 temperatures, and deer only eat white pine
during winter.

In our study it turned out that fire is much better than logging at
preparing a good seedbed and eliminating shrubs and advance regeneration of
species such as red maple that compete with white pine seedlings. I expect
that the same results would hold in any part of white pine's range where
competition from shrubs and advance regeneration is a major problem after


Weyenberg, Scott A., Lee E. Frelich and Peter B. Reich. 2004. Logging
versus fire: How does disturbance type influence the abundance of Pinus
strobus regeneration? Silva Fennica 38: 179-194.

At 08:39 AM 6/16/2004, you wrote:

     Lee, before reading the paper, a question comes immediately to mind.
How does latitude and maybe longitude impact the conclusions? I can
imagine the white pine's response to fire versus logging as partly
dependant on the prevailing climate and other variables that we often
list as affecting growth - as opposed to regeneration.

    I'm still trying to understand at a gross level the sensitivities of
the species I see around me to changes in soil, temperature,
disturbance. I am finding the sheer number of combinations to contend
with bewildering. And if all the variables that nature throws at the
pines aren't enough, there's the additional ones we humans add to the
list, e.g. air pollution and even the kind of pollution. Oh, ache and