Trees Worth Protecting

I've always been impressed with the lifespan of animals like the tortoise, which can live for 175 years, and the blue whale which can live to be over 200 years. That anything can live nearly three times the average lifespan of a human seems amazing to me. These creatures serve as an important link between our generation and a generation of people lost to the history books. A blue whale recently killed still had harpoons in it's body from the 1790's, giving it a life of over 210 years!

Limber PineBut, 200 years is not even a drop in the bucket in age compared with the living limber pine tree found in Yellowstone recently. The tree was discovered to be 1,921 years old. Talk about old growth, that is nearly the age of the modern calendar! Also found in Yellowstone was a live juniper tree that has lived at least 1,500 years. The age is determined by counting the number of rings in the tree's trunk using a "core sample", rather than having to cut the tree down. These core samples can tell us a lot about the past. As you can imagine, trees are sensitive to changes in temperature and drought, and the tree rings reflect these changes over time. It's one way to measure long term patterns, like global cooling or global warming. It does make you wonder, what will these trees tell future generations about who we were. If we are changing our environment, the trees will know it, and will record the changes in their rings. If that's not a reason to conserve the natural objects of the parks unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations, I don't know what is.
God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools. ~John Muir
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