Whitebark Pine Planting in East Kootenay Wildfire Areas
The Whitebark Pine Planting in East Kootenay Wildfire Areas project, led by Moody Tree, will support Whitebark Pine recovery by planting an estimated 5,000 seedlings over 10 ha, improve growing conditions for naturally regenerating trees, and work with industry to improve management approaches. Whitebark Pine is a keystone species of high-elevation ecosystems. It provides important food for wildlife. Due to the introduced White Pine blister rust, Mountain Pine Beetle, changes to fire regimes, and climate change, numbers of Whitebark Pine have dramatically decreased, leading to it being listed as endangered under SARA.
Update: 5,700 whitebark pine seedlings planted
More than 5,700 whitebark pine seedlings were planted near Boswell, Kimberley, and the Kootenay Pass between Salmo and Creston. Whitebark pine is a endangered and keystone species in high-elevation ecosystems, where it’s an important food source for grizzlies and other wildlife, but it’s been dramatically impacted by white pine blister rust, mountain pine beetle, wildfires, and climate change.
Final report: executive summary
Whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) is a keystone species of high elevation ecosystems; whose ecological role is diminishing due to declining populations caused by white pine blister rust, mountain pine beetle, changes to species composition due to changes in fire regimes, and global climate change. This population decline is so acute that whitebark pine has been listed as Endangered on Schedule 1 of the Federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). This project aligns with the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program Upland and Dryland Action Plan Species of Interest Chapter, Species-Based action type: COLUPD.SOI.SB.27.01 Whitebark Pine Restoration Efforts – P2. The secondary action this project aligns with is COLUPD.ECO.HB.15.01 Identify, maintain and restore old-growth ecosystems – P1; also in the Upland and Dryland Action Plan from the Ecosystem Chapter and Habitat-based Action Type. To recover whitebark pine we planted putatively resistant seedlings, which may have resistance to white pine blister rust; removed competition from around naturally regenerating whitebark pine seedlings and saplings, surveyed cutblocks to identify their role in recovery, and conducted outreach with youth, ski areas, and plant nurseries. In total we restored 24.75 ha of whitebark pine habitat. In Kianuko Provincial Park we planted 4,500 seedlings over 4.29 ha; at Hourglass Lakes we planted 700 seedlings over 3.3 ha including 540 seedlings planted directly in monitoring transects; and at Kootenay Pass we planted 500 seedlings over 0.96 ha. We removed competition from around whitebark pine trees at two locations on Mount Puddingburn and Bootleg Mountain totalling 16.2 ha. At each location, an intensive clearing area within a sample plot was established where the majority of non-whitebark stems were removed including 1800 stems per ha at Puddingburn and 2050 stems per ha at Bootleg; at Bootleg the majority of area cut was done in a random method throughout the treatment area. Competition removal may be an appropriate treatment in areas where suitable planting areas are not present or where rust hazards are low; this is especially important in cutblocks where regeneration is common but pathways to reproductive maturity appear doubtful. Outreach was conducted with youth, ski areas, and nurseries. Youth demonstrated a keen interest in growing whitebark pine and should be included as participants in future projects; four ski areas were identified to participate in whitebark pine recovery work; and a professional relationship with U.S. nurseries was created to aid Canadian nurseries in whitebark pine seedling production.
Click the provincial database link below to read the full final report for this project.