2012 Status Update on Whitebark Pine
These stands are on the range margins of whitebark pine. Stands in the Worland, Lander and Cody field offices are on the extreme eastern edge of the range of whitebark pine in the United States. The stands in the Kemmerer Field Office are the southern-most stands in Wyoming and the southern-most east of the Great Basin.
Status and Condition:
Whitebark pine stands on BLM Wyoming lands range from approximately 8,000 to over 11,000 feet in elevation. They are found in pure whitebark pine stands, mixed limber pine/whitebark stands, and mixed conifer stands with lodgepole pine, subalpine fir and Engelmann spruce. These stands range from open high elevation woodlands to dense whitebark and limber pine stands to heavily forested mixed stands.
Field observations indicate widespread mountain pine beetle epidemics with mortality approaching 50 to 90% of trees (>5” diameter) in some areas. White pine blister rust infections are also present, but due to the location of BLM stands on the range margins, many of the white pine blister rust infections are in the incipient phase where it is too early to establish rust resistant “plus” trees for seed collection and testing of rust resistance in the seedlings.
The one stand (Commissary Ridge) that has had a USFS Forest Health Protection Biological Evaluation shows 70+ percent mountain pine beetle mortality and an incipient (1-5%) white pine blister rust infection rate.
Whitebark Pine Conservation Projects:
- The only current BLM whitebark pine project in the state is on Commissary Ridge in the Kemmerer Field Office (KFO). A forest management project slated to be done in 2012 will remove mountain pine beetle infested trees and thinning of subalpine fir, lodgepole pine and other conifers from around surviving healthy whitebark and limber pine.
- A three state (Idaho, Montana and Wyoming) BLM whitebark and limber pine inventory was initiated in 2011. The Commissary Ridge whitebark pine stands in the KFO were inventoried and several “plus” trees were identified. This project was funded by the BLM at approximately 50 percent of requested funding in 2012.
- A bulk seed collection (40,000 seeds) was done on Commissary Ridge in 2009. A sample of the seeds (588) was sent to Coeur d’Alene Nursery for inclusion in their whitebark pine rust screening sown in FY10. Second-year container seedlings were inoculated with blister rust basidiospores in the fall of 2011. Data will be collected beginning June 2012, with final rust resistance data available winter 2015. Seeds from this collection will also be planted in a preservation nursery in Oregon.
- The Wyoming BLM forestry program will conduct a preliminary mapping and health inventory of the whitebark pine in western Wyoming in 2012. The only whitebark pine stand that is currently mapped on BLM lands in Wyoming is the Commissary Ridge stand.
- The Middle Rockies and Wyoming Basins Rapid Ecoregional Assessments (REA) currently underway each have the 5 needle pine assemblage as a fine filter element to be analyzed in these landscape planning documents. Change agents to be analyzed in regards to 5 needle pine are: climate change, insect and disease, development and wildland fire. These REAs cover the range of whitebark pine in Wyoming, southern Montana, and through central Idaho.
Known locations in Wyoming with field estimated acreages
Field Estimated Acres
|Pinedale||Deadline-Pine Grove Ridge|
Unknown – 100+potential
Owl Creek Mtns
Carter Mtn/Greybull River & Rattlesnake Mtn
Wind River Mtns
Unkn - 100+ potential
Total Estimated Acres