The Association’s Performance Crew took a day off from trail work this month to help volunteers with the Lands Council and Kettle Range Conservation Group with whitebark pine conservation efforts at the annual Kettle Range Rendezvous.
The Kettle River Range is one of several mountain ranges along the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail. On this portion of the Colville National Forest, the PNT follows the crest of the range through stands of whitebark pine, an important species that thrives at altitude, but is declining across its range in the Western States due to a combination of threats.
The PNT follows the Kettle Crest through stands of
whitebark pine, an important species that thrives at altitude,
but is declining across its range in the Western States.
On the Colville, where nearly half of the trees have been infected by white pine blister rust, important disease-resistant stands of the pine have been discovered. In 2015, the Forest implemented the Whitebark Pine Enhancement Project to help improve growing conditions for whitebark pine on the Kettles through vegetation management, prescribed burning, and other methods.
In the western Cascades, blister rust, and outbreaks of mountain pine beetles have caused severe population decline in the species, now classified as endangered by the IUCN.
…I believe this restoration work is necessary to protect
a sensitive tree species, a candidate for listing
under the Endangered Species Act…
By partnering with the Kettle Range Conservation Group and volunteers, the Forest seeks to protect the species which provides an important food source for many birds and mammals, including grizzly and black bears.
“Our mission… is also to restore the ecosystems of the Columbia River watershed, and I believe this restoration work is necessary to protect a sensitive tree species, a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act, and that does not change wilderness characteristics of the Kettle River Range,” said Tim Coleman, Executive Director of the KRCG, in a statement. “In a few years our work will be unrecognizable after slash piles are burned or rot into soil. Whitebark trees will be better able to withstand wildfire and blister rust, now.”
For more information on whitebark pine or this project, contact Jon Day, US Forest Service Silviculturist at 509-684-7000. To volunteer for this project, or more information on KRCG, contact Tim Coleman, Executive Director of the KRCG, here.