Estivant Pines’ 40th anniversary sparks new challenge for old-growth forest

By Sally Zimmerman, MNA Intern

Photo by Charlie Eshbach

Photo by Charlie Eshbach

Forty years ago, people across the state of Michigan rallied together to raise money to save Estivant Pines. In honor of the 40th anniversary of this event, anonymous donors have provided MNA with a new matching challenge grant. The donors will match all contributions over $500 to MNA, up to a maximum of $40,000 by the end of 2013. New membership dues will also be matched. You can make a secure donation at or by calling (866) 223-2231.

Estivant Pines Nature Sanctuary in the Keweenaw Peninsula has efficiently protected several threatened species and the beautiful white pines that cover the land over the past four decades.

MNA and local citizens ended their three-year long battle on August 17, 1973 by successfully acquiring a copy of the deed to the Estivant Pines. The “Save the Estivant Pines Committee” began in 1970 when local citizen Lauri Leskinen wrote a column that appeared in the Houghton Daily Mining Gazette that expressed the need to save the pines.

Universal Oil Products, who had cut down about 350 acres of the old forest and had plans for future development, previously owned the Estivant Pines. Charlie Eshbach and Jim Rooks were co-chairs of the committee that worked together with local citizens to generate enough funds to cover the $56,000 price tag that marked the foundation of Estivant Pines Nature Sanctuary.

The sanctuary is often referred to as a “living museum” because of its large old-growth white pine forest, with some trees that are 500 years old and stand up to 125 feet tall. For the past four decades, Estivant Pines Nature Sanctuary has protected numerous species of plants and animals, including Michigan’s official state tree, the white pine.

There are two trails that visitors can walk down, the Cathedral Loop Trail and the Bertha Daubendiek Memorial Grove Trail, to see the beautiful scenery of Estivant Pines. Visitors can also see several copper mine pits, dating back thousands of years.

For more information, visit the Michigan Nature Association website or check out the Fall 2013 issue of Michigan Nature magazine.

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