Lake Tahoe students, teachers help revive sugar pines | SierraSun.com

Lake Tahoe students, teachers help revive sugar pines

Peyton Jobe
Special to the Bonanza

Sugar Pines once covered a quarter of the forests in the Lake Tahoe Basin and are the largest of all pine species. Today, they compose less than 5 percent due to past logging and the current white pine blister rust.

"They're almost extinct because of disease and clearcutting," said Lake Tahoe School fifth grader Andrew Busse, who was among the school's students to help plant sugar pines at Sand Harbor this year and last.

Busse's science teacher, Wendy Losee — a former Bay Area water quality scientist — is on a mission to bring back the sugar pines.

For the last several years, Losee has taken her fourth- and fifth-grade students to Sand Harbor to work in support of The Sugar Pine Foundation's (www.sugarpinefoundation.org) goals of growing the sugar pine population and "involving the local community in hands-on forest stewardship."

"Lake Tahoe School students not only learn about the importance of the sugar pine being replanted into the basin, but also learned valuable hands-on project based skills including transect work, watering strategies, and how to successfully plant saplings," said Losee. "The fifth graders especially benefitted from the experience, since they were able to monitor and water the trees they had planted in the previous year — an experience the current fourth graders will have next year when they return."

"It was neat to come back and see that about 50 percent of the trees we had planted last year survived," added Busse. "We made little forts around the trees we planted with sticks and pine cones to help protect them from people stepping on them."

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"Not only do Lake Tahoe School students gain valuable ecosystem knowledge, but are contributing to their community by supporting The Sugar Pine Foundation as well as learning real world research skills," added Losee.

Peyton Jobe is Director of Admissions and Marketing at Lake Tahoe School. Visit aketahoeschool.org to learn more.