10 Dec 2008, 5:10pm
Latest Forest News
by admin

Whitebark pine subject of petition

High-elevation tree is being eliminated across most of its range, enviros say

By JASON KAUFFMAN, Idaho Mountain Express, Dec. 10, 2008 [here]

The clock is ticking down on the whitebark pine tree, environmentalists warned this week.

On Tuesday, the Natural Resources Defense Council petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the tree under the federal Endangered Species Act. If it is listed, the tree species would be one of very few trees on the federal list.

Across the northern Rocky Mountains, the tree faces numerous threats. The whitebark pine grows in some of the Rockies’ most inhospitable and least-visited landscapes, including high-elevation ridges and remote alpine cirques.

In south-central Idaho, the tree’s traditional range extends across the Smoky, Sawtooth, White Cloud, Boulder and Pioneer mountain ranges. Extending farther out, its range is distributed across much of the high-elevation western United States and in southwestern Canada.

Just about everywhere that whitebark pines exist, scientists report troubling declines. Though they point to a number of factors contributing to the tree’s rapid decline, scientists say mountain pine beetle outbreaks and the arrival of an introduced threat—-white pine blister rust-—are chief among their concerns. … [more]

Ed Note: not to mention catastrophic wildfires that convert old-growth whitebark pine (and other white pines such as sugar pine) forests to lodgepole pine thickets and fire-type brush. By the way, excess competition in the absence of anthropogenic fire and/or restoration forestry have weaken trees and invited beetle and fungus attacks, catastrophic fire, and the spread of blister rust (which was ‘introduced’ nearly 100 years ago).

12 Dec 2008, 6:35pm
by YPmule


I wonder if the tree was listed if the FS would have to consider it before letting a WFU go? These guys are high altitude and the standing dead trees (after a fire) stand a long time as ghostly reminders of what was once a beautiful forest.

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