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Largest jack pine in U.S. confirmed in Voyageurs Park

Wildlife researcher Austin Homkes stands next to the largest living jack pine measured in the U.S. Photo courtesy of Thomas Gable

A 73-foot-tall jack pine tree, on the shores of Namakan Lake's Moose Bay in Voyageurs National Park, has been officially declared the largest jack pine in the U.S. and was recently added to American Forests' Champion Trees national register.

The tree measures almost 7 feet around and was discovered by a team of researchers studying wolves in the park that borders Ontario. Researcher Austin Homkes first saw the massive tree, and then showed it to his colleague Thomas Gable.

"When we saw it, you could just tell. It's so much bigger than most of the jack pines we see,'' Gable said.

After measuring the big jack pine, they contacted the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. A forester confirmed the measurements, and it was submitted to American Forests. Champion trees are scored on height, crown spread and trunk circumference.

The previous national champion jack pine was 30-40 points smaller. The former state champion jack pine, which grew in Mountain Iron, was 57 feet tall.