Partners & Projects

NEW: Help Update Range Maps The Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation is reaching out to fellow professionals to update range maps for whitebark pine and limber pine. See the thee full story HERE.

Agency and institutional partnerships

Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee – Whitebark Pine Working Group: The Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation is a partnering organization with this inter-agency organization, which oversees monitoring activities for resource management in the Greater Yellowstone Area. Different board members meet yearly with the working group and provide technical support and information.

Central Rocky Mountain White Pine Health Working Group: This organization has an annual meeting, which is attended by researchers and managers from universities and the U.S. Forest Service from many areas in the western U.S., features status reports on the health of five-needled white pines in the central and southern Rocky Mountains, and general strategy sessions for dealing with white pine blister rust and other forest health issues. The WPEF is a partnering organization and Director Tomback meets yearly with this group in Ft. Collins.

Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative  The WPEF is a member-partner of this Rocky Mountain, cross-border organization.

Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to restoring and preserving the trail system and wilderness values in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex. They accomplish their mission through cooperation with the US Forest Service, partner groups, individual volunteers and generous donors

Projects with Partners

Whitebark Pine Blister Rust Survey, Inventory and Monitoring, National Park Service, Ft.Collins, CO. This database (Microsoft access database) was developed with the WPEF to interface with the WPEF’s Methods for Surveying and Monitoring Whitebark Pine for Blister Rust Infection and Damage

Whitebark Pine: a Pacific Coast Perspective.  Symposium organized by the U.S. Forest Service, Forest Health Protection, Region 6, held August 27-31, 2006 at Southern Oregon University, Ashland, OR. Sponsors include the WPEF, Crater Lake Institute, and Crater Lake Natural History Association.

Whitebark Pine-Limber Pine Information System (WLIS). USDA Forest Service, Northern Region Forest Health Protection, Forest Health Technology Enterprise Team. WLIS (1.0) – Whitebark and Limber Pine Information System.  WLIS is a database of summary data of plots established for whitebark and limber pines in the United States and Canada. Data has been assembled from researchers, surveyors, and literature sources and compiled in a standard format. In addition, data from FIA plots with whitebark or limber pine are included. Data can be viewed for any of the plots in the system. The data can also be queried to refine the dataset to meet the user’s needs. Plot locations can be spatially depicted through an interactive mapping system. The interactive database provides a user-friendly interface for the addition of new plots or updating data for plots already in the system. A User’s Guide is included as part of the download and should be referenced for details on using the system.

Connecting ecological processes to whitebark pine restoration, Lori Daniels and Carmen Wong, University of British Columbia. 2006 Research grant awarded from Yellowstone to Yukon Science Grants Program to the WPEF as the NGO research partner.

Collaboration with U.S. Forest Service, Region 1 on whitebark pine restoration plan. Board members Bob Keane, Carl Fiedler, Ward McCaughey, and Diana Tomback are participating in the development of a region-wide whitebark pine restoration plan with staff from the regional office based in Missoula, Montana.

Grant partnerships

Assessing the threat of mountain pine beetle outbreaks to whitebark pine in British Columbia, Pacific Forestry Center, Canadian Forest Service (contact, Dr. Elizabeth Campbell). WPEF is a partner on this proposal to the Canadian Forest Science Program. Winter 2005.

Projects in progress

  • Methods for surveying limber pine for blister rust infection and damage. This summer we will begin developing a protocol for establishing permanently marked plots for surveying and monitoring limber pine for blister rust and damage, as a follow-up to our protocol for whitebark pine (link here). We hope to publish a combined whitebark pine and limber pine protocol in the near future.
  • Protocol for assessing Clark’s nutcracker population levels from year to year. This protocol is under development and will soon be available. We are advocating that national forests and parks establish permanent transects for acquiring baseline data on nutcracker occurrence and activities both in areas where blister rust has not yet greatly damaged trees, and in areas where whitebark pine damage is reducing cone availability. We are concerned about the reduction in carrying capacity for nutcrackers both locally and regionally, and decline of potential natural whitebark pine regeneration if nutcrackers move on to other areas
  • WPEF handbook. This handbook details the roles and duties of the executive committee members and board members.

Additional projects under development or on-going:

  • Ski Area Partnerships
  • Whitebark Pine Bibliography
  • Whitebark Pine Education Initiative
  • Limber Pine Seedling and Seed Survival Project, Waterton Lakes National Park, Canada By Cyndi Smith, WLNP

In Waterton Lakes National Park (WLNP), in southwestern Alberta, Canada, limber pine (Pinus flexilis) primarily occurs in the montane ecoregion (from 1280-1680 m) as a dominant in open forest, but occasionally with other conifers such as Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii); the understory is often a combination of bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), foothills rough fescue (Festuca campestris) and common juniper (Juniperus communis) (Achuff et al. 2002). Though relatively widespread, limber pine populations in the park are declining due to a combination of white pine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola), mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) and drought (Kendall et al. 1996, Achuff 1997), and fire suppression (Schoettle 2004).
If stands become severely depleted, revegetation may be the only means of restoring these populations, but the potential survivorship and long-term success rate of revegetation methods are largely unknown. As revegetating with seedlings costs more than direct seeding (due to the 2-3 years of nursery effort involved) we wanted to experiment with planting seeds and seedlings – perhaps direct seeding, even if the survival was poorer, would be cost-effective.
Two sites were chosen, approximately 300 m apart, on a low ridge at 1650 m elevation. This ridge was patchily burned during a lightning-caused fire in September, 1998. Site A is open with burned and unburned area, with nearby aspen stands and shrubs, some of which were burned. There are several small (< 1m) limber pine that were unburned. The ground cover is common juniper and bearberry, with several grass and forb species. Site B is similar to the burned area in site A, with patchy, sparse vegetation composed of grasses and bearberry. There are more burned snags, many of which are limber pine, standing at this site than at Site A. There are no aspen suckers or shrubs growing, and no live limber pine in Site B. Both sites are exposed to full sun with no shade being cast by anything other than a few snags and rocks.
The seeds and seedlings planted were obtained from the Glacier National Park Native Plant Nursery in West Glacier, Montana. The seeds were collected in September 1999, on the Blackfeet Reservation, south of Fox Creek, MT, approximately 50 km southeast of the planting site. Seeds were collected from trees that were potentially blister rust resistant, as they were the only healthy trees in a stand with high blister rust infection. The collected seed was sent to the U.S. Forest Service Nursery in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, for propagation (Sara Dedekam, pers. comm.).
A total of 345 seedlings were planted in October, 2003: 272 seedlings were planted in 68 clumps at Site A and 73 seedlings were planted in 33 clumps at Site B. A total of 340 seeds were planted: 288 seeds in 71 clumps at Site A and 52 seeds in 29 clumps at Site B. Seeds and seedlings were planted under the following paired treatments: burned vs. unburned, protected vs. unprotected, near vegetation vs. in the open, 1-3-5 seeds/seedlings per clump. Protection from herbivory and pilfering consisted of using photo-biodegradable plastic netting over the seedlings, and hardware cloth over the seeds.
The seeds and seedlings were monitored weekly during the summer months in 2004 and 2005. Data were not collected for each individual, but rather for each clump. The number of seedlings in each clump was counted and the height of the tallest seedling in the clump was measured in centimetres. The measurement was made from the ground surface to the tip of the upper bud; needles extending past the bud were not included in the measurement. The overall health and vigour of the seedling clump was then rated as: healthy, dead, recently dead, sick/unhealthy. Where seeds had been planted, the emergence of seedlings and the number of seedlings emerged was noted for each clump, and these were subsequently measured and their health rated as above. Monitoring is continuing in 2006, after which time we plan to conduct analyses on the first three years of the planting trials.


Literature Cited

Achuff, P. L. 1997. Special plant and landscape features of Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta. Unpublished report. Parks Canada, Waterton Park, AB. 71 pp.

Achuff, P. L., R. L. McNeil, M. L. Coleman, C. Wallis, and C. Wershler. 2002. Ecological land classification of Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta. Vol. I: integrated resource description. Parks Canada, Waterton Park, Alberta. 221 pp.

Kendall, K, D. Ayers, and D. Schirokauer. 1996. Limber pine status from Alberta to Wyoming. Nutcracker Notes 7: 23-24.

Schoettle, A. W. 2004. Ecological roles of five-needle pines in Colorado: potential consequences of their loss. In: R. A. Sniezko, S. Samman, S. E. Schlarbaum, and H. B. Kriebel [Eds.], Breeding and genetic resources of five-needle pines: growth, adaptability, and pest resistance. Proceedings RMRS-P-32. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 259 pp