Wildlife Research Institute
Non-Profit Research and Education Since 1971

The White Pine Society

Origin of WPS
Executive Summary
White Pine Slide Show
Critique of DNR Plan
White Pine Society Plan
White Pine News
Forest Ecology Links
Tree Measuring Guide
Death of a Pine Tree
Thank You

This excerpt from LAKE SUPERIOR: STORY AND SPIRIT (288 pages), written and photographed by John and Ann Mahan (1998), describes perfectly why Lynn Rogers, Ph.D. formed the White Pine Society.

Our Forests are Safe Now, Right?

Unfortunately, no they are not.  There is a strong disconnect between rhetoric and ground truth.  The truth on the ground in our publicly owned forests is that surprisingly little has changed.  Our forests are still being mined.  Much of the legislation has very weak, or nonexistent, enforcement powers and is administered by agencies still committed to the old "get the cut out" mentality.  The public, who should have ultimate say in how forests are managed, is rarely listened to.  In spite of encouraging statements about biodiversity and sustainability, Ontario has approved the use of clear-cutting in 90 percent of its boreal forest.

Ecologist and professional forester Herb Hammond underscores this threat: "In Ontario the timber industry controls 70% of the productive forest land in long-term forest management agreements."  And how well have they managed these forests?  (Keep in mind that large-scale clear-cutting isn't forest management, it is forest removal.)  Terry Carleton at the University of Toronto, an expert on boreal forest ecology, described clear-cutting that has already "occurred in northern Ontario to yield an effective clear-cut area of 259,000 ha [640,000 acres].  It is visible from space with the naked eye..."

Many U.S. Forest Service foresters, scientists, and researchers are committed to their forests and to the public, and are heartsick at the continued destruction in our forests.  They have banded together in the Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics (FSEEE) and are courageously speaking out and risking their jobs.

Lynn Rogers, a widely respected U.S. Forest Service research biologist, became concerned about the remaining white pine in Minnesota.  His research has documented the importance of white pine to nesting eagles and osprey.  In the last 30 years, "80 percent of the bald eagle nests and 77 percent of osprey nests were found in white pines."  White pine seedlings are not surviving blister rust and deer browsing.  The large white pines are, but they are not surviving the U.S. Forest Service's logging sales.  Rogers also illustrates how industry is still allowed to externalize costs onto the public: "Currently, when industry cuts white pines on public land, taxpayers must pay for replanting... taxpayers should not have to pay to regenerate what industry has cut."

He described his findings in an article published by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and also took his research and concerns to then U.S. Forest Service Chief, F. Dale Robertson.  Within one month, the U.S. Forest Service was "investigating" Lynn Rogers.  They confiscated his data, canceled his study, locked him out of his office for three months and made numerous allegation against him.  Rogers was subjected to huge legal fees, and his 23-year black bear research was ended.  When the case was moved out of the Forest Service's jurisdiction, the Service quickly settled, avoiding negative publicity.  The white pine sales continued.

So did Lynn Rogers.  He became cofounder and director of the White Pine Society -- committed to public education and "sustainable yield management" of the remaining 2 percent of Minnesota's white pine.  Government and industry's "kill the messenger" response backfired on them.  "With all the publicity I brought to the issue," Rogers says, "the white pine cutting has really gone down."  Recently honored as an environmental hero in Minnesota, Rogers continues working with others to pass legislation in Minnesota that would insure a sustainable approach to white pine management.

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