Notice that the pine trees at the side of the road are all about the same size and are not mixed with other kinds of trees. This is a pine plantation. You can estimate the age of the trees by counting the whorls of branches. These trees were planted before the land became part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
Logging and farming played an important role in Michigan’s history, but left many tracts of land depleted. Property owners planted pine trees in an effort to improve their land. Pine trees serve a number of purposes: they prevent soil erosion, provide a windbreak, yield a timber crop and provide some wildlife habitat. Yet, for all their benefits, pine plantations are out of place in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The park was set aside to preserve the natural environment. Therefore, native forest growth is more desirable here than pine plantations. In some parts of the park, portions of pine plantations have been cut selectively to encourage a mingling of natural growth among the pine trees.