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State's largest jack pine chopped down 2 days after securing record

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That was a short-lived title.

A jack pine growing in a Mountain Iron yard was declared the largest of its species on record living in Minnesota – but two days later it was a pile of logs, the Duluth News Tribune reports.

The tree, which the state Department of Natural Resources Native Big Trees Program confirmed was the largest living jack pine in the state back in March, measured 57-feet tall and 87 inches around for 152 total points, the newspaper said.

And according to American Forests Big Tree Program it was also the largest in the United States.

But before the Mountain Iron jack could be added to the DNR's record tree website, it was felled to make room for U.S. Steel's expanding Minntac mine. And now the DNR is looking for a new champion for its Big Tree Program.

What's more: The previous jack pine record holder (located in Kittson) was actually bigger than the Mountain Iron one. But it died of natural causes over the winter, Jennifer Teegarden of the DNR, told the Duluth News Tribune.

There are 52 native tree species listed in the state's Big Tree Registry, and now only one of them holds a national title – a 219-point tamarack in Crow Wing.

The DNR is also seeking a new champion for several other trees, including the black willow, the chestnut oak, the red mulberry, the mountain maple and the northern mountain ash.

And there are hundreds of species of trees that don't have champions on the national register. (Click here for information on how to track down a record-setting tree.

Expanding mine shrinks neighborhood

Mining companies gobbling up neighborhoods is nothing new Iron Range residents. The felled jack pine is just the latest to go as part of U.S. Steel's expanding Minntac mine in Mountain Iron, as it buys properties in the city's Parkville neighborhood.

James Duffy, a retired Minntac mine worker, lives on the south side of the neighborhood and recently he saw all the trees around his property get chopped down, Northland's NewsCenter reported.

"It's just been making me sick, almost physically sick because I love the trees, I love the animals, the wildlife. It's my passion. I hate to see it all tore down like this," Duffy told the news station.

He is refusing to sell his home to U.S. Steel, even though he continues to see increasing pressure to do so, Northland's NewsCenter says.

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