Penny Pines History

Penny Pines on the Plumas National Forest The Penny Pines Program began in California in 1941. Under the initial sponsorship of the San Francisco Sportswomen's Association and later, school children of the San Mateo County Schools, the first contributions were used for reforestation on the Shasta-Trinity National Forests in northern California. Over the years, the number of the groups participating in the Penny Pines Program has continued to grow.

The basic contribution to Penny Pines is $68.00. Why this amount? Back in 1941, seedlings cost about 1 cent each and, 680 seedlings were used to plant a typical acre. For $68.00, seedlings for ten acres could be purchased. Site preparation and planting costs were met through regular Forest Service appropriations. The Penny Pines program was so successful that money contributed to purchase seedlings soon exceeded the appropriated funds available for site preparation and for the actual planting job.

So in 1964 the original cooperative agreement was rewritten to provide that funds contributed under the Penny Pines program are to be used for reforestation, rather than for the purchase of seedlings only. Today, the minimum donation remains $68.00. Weighing heavily in past decisions not to raise the minimum donation were comments received from the California Federation of Women's Clubs and the California Garden Clubs, Inc. about the program's purpose and the donation size. They felt that increasing the minimum donation would have a more adverse effect on fundraising than the fact that the $68.00 minimal donation would plant somewhat less than one acre.

To date, those pennies have amounted to well over 1 million dollars, and the program is a statewide conservation project supported by numerous individuals and organizations. Garden clubs, women's clubs, men's service organizations, youth groups and schools have all cooperated to help keep California's forests green and growing.

Other states have cooperative planting programs, but the Penny Pines Program is unique to California. Almost every National Forest in the State has a Penny Pines plantation area. A sign at each plantation lists the organizations which have donated to that particular site. Since funds are sent to the closest National Forest, contributors are able to visit the plantation sites and enjoy the results of their cooperation.

Since 1941, Penny Pines donations have helped maintain the National Forests in California. Participation in the program has also helped many people understand important aspects of forest conservation and wise management of your national forests.