Help the Whitebark Pine Species!
On December 25th, 2022 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a final rule (87 FR 76882) to list the Whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The Whitebark Pine is an important component of western high-elevation forests, their populations have been declining in both the United States and Canada from combined effects. Warmer temperature trends have triggered epidemic outbreaks of the mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) and lowered the trees’ resistance to white pine blister rust, caused by a nonnative fungus (Cronartium ribicola), both of which have killed millions of trees. Historical fire suppression allowed the march of more shade-tolerant competitors into Whitebark pine habitat, replacing this species through succession.
Photo sourced from "Conservation and Management of Whitebark Pine Ecosystems on Bureau of Land Management Lands in the Western United States"
The overall goal of this project is to provide the BLM with Whitebark Pine seeds so they can study this specific Whitebark Pine population's resiliency towards known killers, propagate seeds, and keep seeds in a seed bank for dispersal at a later time in the event of a fire or population die-off.
The Whitebark Pine is considered a keystone species, meaning it increases the biodiversity of a community because of the important and critical role it plays in the lifecycle of many other species. This tree provides shelter and food for numerous other plants and animals so the work we are doing is an important step in helping save this tree and its surrounding ecosystem.
This project has two parts. This RSVP page is for part two of the project.
For this project we will split our time between the Pahute Peak Wilderness and Pine Forest Wilderness. Here we will be hiking to and working with small, isolated populations of Whitebark Pine. During this project we will be removing the cages we placed during the first project in June and collecting the mature pine cones. These collected pine cones will be delivered to the BLM for future studies.
Please note: this project is longer than usual (Friday - Tuesday) and will require strenuous hiking long distances over some rocky areas.
Difficulty: Hard: The project involves hiking off trail, up steep terrain, and carrying heavy loads
Location: Pine Forest Wilderness and the Pahute Peak Wilderness
Dates: September 29th - October 3rd
Travel: 4WD and high clearance required. A limited number of spots available in Friends trucks
Food: Breakfast and coffee provided on all work days, big group dinners provided Saturday, Sunday, and Monday night
Gear/Clothing: Please wear long pants, long sleeves, and sturdy work or hiking shoes. Camping equipment: tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad. Camping gear available for loan
More Details: In-depth information such as camping location, weather, and project specifics will be sent out about a week before to those who have RSVP'd
RSVP required to participate
Suggested Packing List