I recently stumbled sheerly by luck upon an impressive non-recognized white pine site in the lower peninsula of Michigan. The site is owned by Consumers Energy but is leased by the county for public use, and is located in Newaygo county near and adjacent to the Muskegon River. Their is a plaque commemorating the white pine and that there will not be any cutting on the site in the future and that there has not been since 1964.
I would describe the stand as follows: about 30 acres of white pine as the canopy dominant with a mix of typical mesic to dry mesic species: American beech, red oak, red maple, and white oak. It is an open stand lacking a dense understory but American beech is the most abundant understory species. It appears to be a sandy and acidic soil that predominates here and the only herbaceous ground cover species I could find was Dryopteris intermedia or fancy wood fern. I found a few scattered sugar maples saplings. The white pine in the stand are the tallest I have seen in the lower peninsula outside of Hartwick Pines. I spent an hour or more hiking and measuring with a laser range finder. My method for determining height is to shoot straight up and then add my height in if appropriate. I will begin by saying that these are simply height estimates and not meant to be accurate, but they do give one an impression of the tree heights.
Most of the tall trees I measured with range finder are between 120 and 140' in height. IF the rangefinder I am using is "modestly accurate" then most of the tall trees are over 125' and maybe a few around 140 feet or higher. Interestingly, the diameter of the trees is not outstanding, and again an estimate, I would say most are between 24 and 30 inches. However, some of the bigger specimens are close to 3 feet and a few may be over 36" in diameter. The bark is rough as you might see on mature white pine.
The white pines here are impressive and yet are just part of the great potential that this county has for growing eastern white pine. Newaygo county, Michigan is historically home to fantastic white pine sawlog numbers and nearly all of the county is suitable for eastern white pine re-establishment as the dominant tree by volume and size. Its literally a white pine growing machine, in my humble opinion. An interesting thing about these these pines is that they have relatively skinny diameters, perhaps a result of tight growing conditions and smaller crowns, but also perhaps a sign that the trees are not much over 100 years old? The white pine old growth in Hartwick tends to be larger diameter and also has taller trees. However I would say that anywhere in Crawford county, Michigan (north-central Michigan) is going to be a much colder and more extreme growing environment than Newaygo county (western Michigan, much more southern latitude). Do these trees have the potential of growing over 150 feet?
I guess these are questions I find myself pondering, as well as some more accurate measurements on the trees than my old range finder and my eyes. I hope that maybe a few ENTS'ers will find this a worthy place for a field visit on their next trip through the state of Michigan.