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The Sugar Pine Foundation

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Environment, Forest Conservation

Mission: Save the Sugar Pines! We locate sugar pines and other white pines resistant to a non-native invasive fungus called White Pine Blister Rust. We plant white pine seedlings that are resistant to the fungus in the Tahoe Basin and surrounding areas, thus ensuring healthy forests, waters, recreational and scenic benefits and a vibrant local economy for generations to come!

Geographic areas served: Tahoe Basin and vicinity

Programs: 2011 accomplishments: * planting over 10,000 resistant sugar pine seedlings, 3,000 jeffrey pines, and 1,000 incense cedar seedlings to reforest 200 acres of land. * educating and involving over 600 local schoolchildren and 400 members of the community in hands on forest restoration. * collecting cones from 85 western white and 36 sugar pines candidates for blister rust resistance testing.

2012 accomplishments: * planting over 10,000 resistant sugar pine seedlings to reforest 200 acres of land. * educating and involving over 500 local schoolchildren and 300 members of the community in hands on forest restoration. * collecting 50 pounds of seed for future planting

2013 accomplishments: * planting over 10,000 resistant sugar pine seedlings to reforest 200 acres of land. * educating and involving over 1000 local schoolchildren and 300 members of the community in hands on forest restoration. * collecting 25 pounds of seed for future planting *teaching junior botany to 500 elementary school students * provide service learning for 150 at risk youth

2014 accomplishments: * planting 10,130 sugar pine seedlings progeny of white pine blister rust resistant seed trees to reforest 200 acres of land. * publishing a children's book *educating and involving over 800 local schoolchildren and 500 members of the community in hands on forest restoration. * collecting 40 pounds of seed for future planting *teaching junior botany to 1200 elementary school students * providing service learning for 150 at risk youth

Community Stories

18 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This foundation is amazing, as they quite literally will climb 200 ft. trees to retrive living seeds to test rust on. This is an epic group.

Donor

Rating: 5

As an organization dedicated to replanting the hard to get to burnt areas of the Tahoe region, SPF has had real success. I have had the chance to hike several of the recently planted areas and was very pleased to see many thriving seedlings and only a few planting that did not make it.

Really looking forward to their next planting event and seeing the seedlings progress into mature trees.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We went hunting in South Lake for the trees that were planted in the spring. We found a plethora of baby trees basking in the autumn sunshine. Very inspiring to see such a large success rate.

Gavin B.

Board Member

Rating: 5

The SPF is energetic, friendly and approachable. The staff do a great job of explaining the work the foundation does and why it is important. They make all volunteers feel welcome & valued, providing amble opportunities for folks of all ages to do whatever the can to help the health of the Tahoe forests.

Sonya M.3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered on a planting of sugar pines and jeffrey pines yesterday and was very impressed by the different groups who participated. It was one of the Truckee River Day events offered for community members to participate in restoration in their area, and it was neat to see not only a youth leadership group (SOS) and many local families participating, but also a teenager's birthday party held at the event! Helpful and interesting background for the planting site were provided during the planting directions by the SPF's director and her son which put the planting in perspective. Very fun to do the actual planting and see many different types of people enjoy it too! Will participate again.

Donor

Rating: 5

I am a new member, because...you cannot go wrong with planting trees. But wait...there's more...FUN!!!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Sugar Pine Foundation is doing some of the most important and urgent conservation work in the Sierra Nevada today. The health of our high elevation forests are at a critical tipping point. Fueled by a rapidly changing climate, the forested lands that provide us enumerable ecosystem services are under attack by growing wildfires, invasive species, disease, and loss of biodiversity. In the Sierra, some of the most important of these species are the white pines including sugar pines, whitebark pines, and western white pines. Tragically, these trees have been decimated from a non-native, incurable fungus called white pine blister rust. Thanks to the diversity of nature however, about 3-5% of sugar pines and western white pines possess a natural genetic resistance to the blister rust fungus. The Sugar Pine Foundation is using this little known fact to mount a resistance against this destructive fungus in order to improve the health and resilience of Sierra Nevada forests well into the future. Their restoration strategy consists of locating these resistant trees, collecting their cones, and using them to propagate and then plant their progeny around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond.

I had the great pleasure of participating in a short internship with the SPF a few years ago as part of Vail's Epic Volunteers program. During my internship I was exposed to all aspects of executing their mission including on the ground community plantings to something arguably even more important, youth education. What I think makes the SPF's work so impactful is their two prong approach to conservation and restoration. The first is providing the opportunity for the community to get out into the forest and get their hands dirty planting blister-resistant seedlings while learning something about the ecosystems surrounding them. There is something very powerful about the hands on forest restoration experience that truly connects you with the natural world and want to continue to be vested in its protection. Second, the SPF puts a lot of resources into educating the public and youth through experiential education in subjects such as botany, ecology, and biology. This is such an important service provided by the SPF because there is no more pressing a time then now to foster a love and fascination for the environment in the next generation as they will ultimately bare much of the burden of anthropogenic climate change. By getting kids into nature for hands on learning the SPF helps to ensure the next generation has skin in the game for protecting the environment in a world that is increasingly disconnected due to the prevalence of technology in our lives.

Maria and the rest of the staff at the SPF are extremely knowledgeable and passionate about that they do and it makes for an overall fun and rewarding experience to work with them. My time volunteering with the SPF really helped develop my own passions for environmental work and propelled me on a path that has afforded me the opportunity to partake in some truly rewarding projects and experiences; for that I'm truly grateful to the Sugar Pine Foundation. Maria was very accommodating in setting up planting sessions for my staff at work when I wanted to give them the chance to get out and volunteer to help their community and local ecosystem. I very much look forward to having the opportunity to volunteer with the Sugar Pine Foundation again in the future!

Board Member

Rating: 5

The Sugar Pine Foundation is one of those organizations that is actually getting work done on the ground. It's very inspiring to see and be a part of it. It's amazing the amount of work that they accomplish with little resources. With more funding and staff, they would be unstoppable! Their mission is an important one, and one that would easily be overlooked without them. I would be so disappointed to think back and wish I could show my daughter a sugar pine. Luckily, I don't have to worry about that, but there is a need to ensure that this organization can continue and thrive.

Wendy44

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered with the Sugar Pine Foundation during a Lake Tahoe Stewardship day event. They were extremely knowledgable and passionate about their work. A group of us planted Sugar Pine seedlings in the forest as well as learned how to capture good seed cones from the trees. Additionally, as a teacher I plan to have my students assist this organization come spring in re-planting areas of the forest that have been especially hard hit with the loss of Sugar Pines due to diseases. This organization is truly worthy of being a top rated nonprofit!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have really enjoyed partnering with this non-profit organization to offer educational programs that allow students in our community the opportunity to learn about forest health while also taking action to protect our forests. Keep up the great work Sugar Pine Foundation!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is a great non-profit. As a volunteer, I feel like I am making a big difference at tree planting or monetary support because they do a lot of hand-on projects, and you really can see the impact.

Lara P.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

A great non-profit helping preserve the natural environment here at the natural wonder that is Lake Tahoe.

Board Member

Rating: 4

The Sugar Pine Foundation is a great environmental nonprofit that focuses on restoring our native white pine species from a invasive rust (mold) species that is decimating native white pines throughout North America. Their hard work and dedication towards this goal has given natural resource managers an invaluable tool in this fight, the discovery and propagation of native sugar pine (and soon to be western white pines) specimens that are naturally resistant to the invasive rust. In addition to this great success the organization has has a very successful volunteer tree planting program, where community volunteers plant sugar pine seedlings resistant to the invasive. The organization also hosts numerous plantings focused on school kids which incorporates environmental education activities. These are some of the reasons why I am proud to be a part of this great organization.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

John and Maria taught me how to use the big sling shot. We went to beautiful places. It is hard work getting those cones down.

6

Former Volunteer

Rating: 5

Working with SPF is always a fun learning experience! I learned about climbing trees and participated in collecting the seeds cones that the climbers felled. The staff were extremely knowledgeable, helpful and passionate. John is a wealth of information, Maria is full of energy and ideas, the mission is simple and urgent, and all this organization needs is more funding and paid staff to make a bigger impact!

7

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We had a great time planting sugar pine seedlings at Zephyr Park. It was a lot of fun for the kids and they learned a lot.

4

Donor

Rating: 5

The foundation has been very reponsive to requests for information. They have put out a good video which is very informative, and have welcomed feedback on their efforts. They have also been willing to plant seedlings in appropriate places for interested individuals.

7

Board Member

Rating: 5

I am currently the board chair for Sugar Pine Foundation. I have been on the board since it's beginning a few years ago. What impresses me most is how John and Maria have kept this good work going while having two children and working full time jobs. They are truly passionate about the work SugarPine Foundation is accomplishing. In addition, the Foundation is the only organization doing this work in the region on private lands. Without them our magificent Sugar and White Pines would surely fall prey to the invasive blister rust.