Jim Gilbert's Nature Notes: In praise of old-growth pines

  • by: Jim Gilbert , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 27, 2014 - 2:21 PM

As kids, on road trips with our parents, my brother and I knew we were Up North when we reached Menahga, Park Rapids, and finally Itasca State Park. Mom and Dad always pointed out the tall pines, the pine-scented air, and the wonderful sound of the wind swirling through their long needles. These truly spectacular pines are symbols of the North Woods, representing the flora in much the same way as common loons represent the fauna. What I didn’t realize until much later in life is that most of the central and northern part of the state, which is now covered with aspen, sugar maple and paper birch, was once home to similarly majestic pines, many of them close to 150 feet tall.

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