Last week we met Michigan's state tree and this week we're meeting it's companion tree in northern forests, the Red Pine. You've seen these trees, often growing in strangely straight rows in Northern Forests. They are growing in rows because they were planted by The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The CCC was a public work relief program in the United States that operated from 1933 to 1942. One of the major projects undertaken by the CCC was the reforestation of the red pine. The red pine is known for its fast growth and valuable timber and was destroyed by logging and fires in the Great Lakes in the early 1900s. The CCC set out to replant these forests with red pine seedlings, which were grown in nurseries and then planted by CCC workers. The CCC also built fire towers, roads, and other infrastructure to support the reforestation efforts.
The tree is a valuable resource for wildlife, providing food and habitat for a variety of species. The needles, twigs, and cones of the Red Pine are eaten by animals such as deer, elk, and grouse. The tree's bark is also an important source of food for porcupines and beavers. Birds, such as the Pine Grosbeak and Pine Siskin, also use the tree for nesting and roosting. The tree's dense canopy provides protection from predators and harsh weather conditions. In addition, the tree's deep root system provides stability on rocky slopes and helps to prevent erosion.
It's easy to identify these trees by their reddish scaly bark and their long needles. They are also different from white pines in the number of needles that grow in each bracket. White pines have five needs and red pines have just two. If you see one red pine, look around, chances are, you'll see another one within a straight line of the one you started with, all thanks to the CCC's work almost 100 years ago.