Local nonprofit has chance to earn $50,000 in national competition | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Local nonprofit has chance to earn $50,000 in national competition

The Sugar Pine Foundation, a small nonprofit based in South Lake Tahoe, has been selected as one of 10 finalists in a national grant competition sponsored by Redwood Creek Wines.

In honor of the 40th annual Earth Day, Redwood Creek Wines is expanding its Greater Outdoors Project and awarding $140,000 in grants to nonprofit organizations that share its mission to preserve, protect and provide access to the great outdoors.

The winery is calling on the public to cast the deciding vote to determine which of the 10 finalists will receive the $50,000 grand prize grant. The nine remaining finalists will each receive $10,000 in runner-up grants.

Vote for the the Sugar Pine Foundation, at http://www.blazethetrail.com/greatoutdoors/vote/. Voting is open until August 3 one vote can be cast per person, per day.

The Sugar Pine Foundation was chosen from a large field of applicants that was narrowed down by a panel of outdoor enthusiast judges, including “Survivor” winner Ethan Zohn. The Sugar Pine Foundation was elected for its commitment to saving Tahoe’s sugar pines and other white pines from the threat of a non-native, incurable fungus called white pine blister rust.

Although the blister rust fungus is killing white pines faster than they can regenerate, the Sugar Pine Foundation is working to restore white pines, particularly sugar pines. About 3 to 5 percent of sugar pines and western white pine have a natural genetic resistance to the fungus and can tolerate its presence. After five years of searching and testing, the Sugar Pine Foundation has identified 35 sugar pines in the Tahoe Basin that are resistant to blister rust. Each fall, they climb these 100 foot-tall “seed trees” to collect their seed. The resistant seed is raised into seedlings which are then planted in fire scars, on old logging landings and in other deforested areas. Indeed, planting these resistant seedlings is the only way to ensure the survival of white pines.

A planting day is set for 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at Zephyr Cove Park. Volunteers are needed to help plant resistant sugar pine seedlings. Planting instructions, seedlings and tools will be provided, although volunteers are encouraged to bring their own shovels and trowels. Children are welcome.

For more information, visit http://www.sugarpinefoundation.org. To vote, visit http://www.blazethetrail.com/greatoutdoors/vote/.

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