The Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest (NHALSF) covers over 232,000 acres in northern Wisconsin. Established in 1925 and primarily assembled from tax-delinquent and unwanted (usually cutover and/or burned; sometimes briefly farmed) lands, the NHALSF is now a recreational paradise, with dense, primarily second-growth forests surrounding many lakes, streams, and other wetland habitats. Some timber production is continued on these state lands, including some pine plantations, but most silviculture now focuses on naturally regenerating stands. Natural regeneration of eastern white pine and red pine is a particular priority, with a number of harvests done to encourage these pines. On Friday, July 1, I traveled to a stand of recently treated white and red pine just south of Woodruff in Oneida County, Wisconsin, along Timberlane Road (within a mile of state highway 47).
Part of this eastern white and red pine stand along Wisconsin State Highway 47 near the junction with Timberlane Road near Woodruff.
The majestic white and red pine in this stand, most of which are probably 100+ years old, tower above the shorter northern red oak, sugar maple, and other hardwoods found in this area. This area is ground moraine, with good site quality (probably a decent Acer-Tsuga-Dryopteris habitat type). This stand, which likely covers scores of acres, was recently harvested to clean up some windstorm damage and to improve conditions for natural pine regeneration (a dense hardwood under- and midstory had long since limited pine regeneration). This made taking heights and diameters much easier than many stands. Unfortunately, a pressing dinner engagement meant that I only had a limited time to measure tree heights, for which I focused on the pines.
Eastern white pine dominate this recently thinned stand.
Species DBH (inches) Height (feet)
Eastern white pine 35.0 112.5
Red pine 25.9 95.0
Red pine 23.3 100.0
Eastern white pine 28.2 109.0
Eastern white pine 33.7 111.0
Eastern white pine 30.9 100.0
Eastern white pine 27.1 98.0
Eastern white pine 18.9 108.0
Eastern white pine 28.2 107.0
Eastern white pine 36.6 103.5
Red pine 23.3 99.5
Eastern white pine 36.2 105.0
Eastern white pine 31.5 120.0
Eastern white pine 27.8 111.5
As with other stands I’ve measured on this trip, the eastern white pines are the tallest and girthiest trees on this site. Red pine also does well, with current maximum heights of between 100 and 110 feet. Both pine species seem to have good apical dominance, suggesting they are not yet done with height growth. Given how these trees tower over the rest of the forest in this area, I was somewhat surprised to find so few that were greater than 110 feet tall. This area is periodically struck by damaging wind events, so that probably helps to limit height (somewhat). These trees aren’t “topped out”, so I expect them to continue getting taller. Indeed, finding the 120 feet white pine suggests to me that there are almost certainly others in this stand that are also at least 120 feet tall; some may even reach or slightly exceed 130 feet at this stage. I suspect that, given enough time and few crown-damaging events, these eastern white pines may exceed 150 feet, as seen in other old-growth pine stands in northern Wisconsin. Red pine will probably not get this tall, but may exceed 120 feet (given time). I will definitely look to revisit this area in the future!
Though not as dominant as the eastern white pine, red pine can be locally common.