Old Growth Pines in the Pogamasing Forest

by Andy Thomson on February 23, 2011


Protection of existing old growth pines is a major concern for many who want to preserve the last of our great forests. Recent protests against logging these forests have been somewhat successful at stopping further reductions of old growth pine. However, cutting is not the only threat. Forest fires were quite common prior to 1900 before the government initiated fire prevention and fire-fighting services to stop them.

In the Pog area there were two known fires. The first, in 1882 burned an area between Big Pog and Little Pog. The second major fire in 1891 burned a much larger area from Stralak to Biscotasing along the CPR and as far east as Onaping Lake. It was this fire that initiated logging in the Pog area because the Department of Crown Lands feared the bugs would destroy all the marketable timber. At the same time, the Department was surveying the area to establish timber limits for auction. The ‘Pog Limits’ as it became know, was first logged by John Charlton in 1903 and continued until W. B. Plaunt in 1940.

So after two large fires and fifty years of logging what is left of old growth pine in the Pogamasing area? Obviously a great majority of the pine is second growth, but there are a few magificent ones still standing.

According to the website www.ancientforest.org, an old growth forest requires a stand of 10 trees per hectare of at least 140 years old. If that is the main criteria, then, I can say for certain there are no such forests in the Pogamasing area. However, there are many single trees that match that criteria and many more that are just below it.

In our wanderings about the area we have come across a few white pines and one red pine that would easily fit the definition, and there are, no doubt, many more.Three that I have measured were well over a meter in diameter and there are many, just under.

I use the past tense because one of these beauties fell five years ago. The photo (above) illustrates just how huge it was. Unfortunately it contacted ‘weak shin’ disease, a condition (the name I use to describe it) caused by fire burning at the trunk and scarring the tree enough to prevent further growth in the burned area. Although the tree continued to grow, the burned area did not. With a weakened trunk, the tree could no longer withstand the pressure of strong winds.

The best chance for a stand of white pine attaining the hallowed status of an old growth forest is at the north end of Pogamasing. This stand has been designated for preservation. It has been recorded as 115 (in 2010 or so) year old pine and, since it is a large area, we could well see some old growth pine in a few decades, provided they don’t raise the age limit!

For a look at some of the Pogamasing pines that could be classified as old growth go to: slide show

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

kathie April 2, 2011 at 2:28 am

great history…I too have been fortunate to see some of the beautiful trees andy has mentioned…the dead one and several huge ones….thanks for posting these Andy kathie


Peter Ryan April 2, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Great pics of some of the old growth giants. I remember well coming across this majestic one while bushwacking with Andy in 2004.
Sweet Pete


Alex Thomson January 29, 2014 at 12:36 pm

Nice pic of these beautiful pines!


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