Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. Credit: USFS
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Project Name:
2013 Whitebark Planting

Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, Mont.

Key Activities:

  • Planting 6,300 trees across 45 acres
  • Reforesting an ecosystem damaged by wildfire and the mountain pine beetle
  • Restoring wildlife habitat

Project Description:
American Forests and the U.S. Forest Service are reforesting 45 acres of Montana’s Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest with 6,300 whitebark pine to reforest an area severely affected by intense wildfires and large numbers of mountain pine beetle.

Why This Project:
In 2000, the high-elevation Mussigbrod Fire burned 33,000 acres of Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. Because the area’s whitebark pine has not regenerated naturally in the last decade — and because the species is facing prolonged attacks by the mountain pine beetle — this project is helping reestablish this keystone species in the national forest’s Wisdom Ranger District. This project is part of the American Forests Endangered Western Forests initiative, which is focused on research and restoration of whitebark pine in the Greater Yellowstone Area.

Whitebark pine seeds are also a popular food for the grizzly bear, which is a threatened species in Montana. This project is restoring food and habitat for the wildlife species that make their home in Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.

Why Whitebark Pine:
In 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared that the whitebark pine’s inclusion on the Endangered Species Act list was “warranted, but precluded,” meaning the species is in danger of extinction, but there is no federal funding to develop plans for its protection.

Whitebark is known as a keystone species in western forests because of its roles shading mountains’ snowpack, which helps regulate water flow and erosion; providing shelter and stability as a “nurse” species for other plants and trees in difficult, high-elevation growing environments; and generating food for many wildlife species.

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