White Pine Initiative

Long felt by many to be the premier majestic tree of the northwoods, our white pine are now shrinking in numbers and at risk of disappearing altogether. Unable to reproduce themselves as quickly as they are being killed, harvested or destroyed.   Disease and pests – white pine blister rust and the white pine weevil – take a considerable toll. Wildfire and windstorm have had a notable impact, along with commercial logging, the building of recreation homesites and access clearing. Of major import has been the abnormally high number of resident deer who crave the white pine leader shoots and whose natural territories have expanded into the recent blowdown and wildfire areas.  

The “White Pine Initiative” is a program of the Quetico Superior Foundation designed to encourage the planting and caring for large numbers of white pine and other species with the hope of reversing the downtrend noted above. Only about 25% of all white pine make it to maturity to become seed and thus reseeding sources themselves. With so few trees now remaining in northern Minnesota, there are not enough to naturally replenish the dwindling stock. Most of the experts agree that the only way for white pine to survive is to plant millions of new trees, which in much larger numbers may be able to reverse the current threat of a total specie loss in the Quetico Superior region. The White Pine Initiative is an attempt to get those millions of trees planted, cared for and growing for future generations.  

In 2007 the Foundation ran a pilot program which offered white pine seeds for sale directly through our organization, a great beginning which resulted in about 400,000 seeds being planted. In the process we discovered that there was a huge interest in northern Minnesota, northern Wisconsin and northwestern Michigan in planting and reforesting – whether at a cabin, a woodlot, a public forest or private association. Throughout 2007 it became clear that most of the interest was in planting seedlings rather than seeds, and we provided individuals and groups with extensive information and consulting help on seedling sources, types, how, and where to plant.

In 2008 the White Pine Initiative will put all of its efforts into providing complete and comprehensive information on where to get and how to plant white pine in ALL their forms – seeds, seedlings and larger containerized trees. This web site will be, to our knowledge, the most comprehensive one-stop information source for the Quetico Superior region. In addition, the web site will provide links to articles on management of tree diseases, pests and predators, success stories, encouragement from your friends and neighbors and much more. It will include information on other northern trees as well, including another well-loved species that is also dwindling and may disappear for many of the same reasons – the northern white cedar – the classic tree of shorelines and proper “canoe-building wood”. We hope and believe that this White Pine Initiative effort will result in the planting of millions of new trees, with most being planted by enthusiastic amateurs, like ourselves, which trees in turn will seed many, many millions more.

The year 2009 is the 10oth anniversary of the first laws preserving the adjacent Canadian Quetico Provincial Park and American Superior National Forest regions in a natural state for the enjoyment and refreshment of future generations. The white pine was once the “signature” tree of the area. It was not necessarily dominant numerically, but white pine are notably tall and regal, often beacons for travelers (“lob pines”), nesting and perching homes to bald eagles, ospreys and many other species. What better way to celebrate this remarkable Centennial of the Quetico Superior area than by restoring enough white pine that they might again be one of the thriving symbols of the north country.

The White Pine Initiative

How to Plant Trees – General Rules

Planting Seeds

Planting Seedlings

Planting Potted Trees

Seed Sources

Seedling Sources

Potted Tree Sources

Links to Related Articles


“One person causes about 10 tons of carbon dioxide to be emitted a year. One tree removes about 1 ton of CO2 per year. [Surely] planting 30 trees per person will remove that person’s carbon debt for the year.” -Tree In A Box