Custer National Forest, Mont. Credit: John Hyun

About the Millie Fire Whitebark Pine ReLeaf Project:

American Forests and the U.S. Forest Service are reforesting more than 50 acres of Custer and Gallatin National Forests with whitebark  pine to restore the area damaged by the Millie Fire.

Global ReLeaf provides forests like this — and the communities that depend on them — with the restoration they need to thrive. Since 1990, American Forests has brought ReLeaf to forests in all 50 states and 45 countries, planting more than 45 million trees in the process.

ReLeaf Location:

Custer and Gallatin National Forests, MT

Key ReLeaf Activities:

  • Planting 21,000 trees across 58 acres
  • Restoration of an ecosystem damaged by wildfire

Why This ReLeaf Project?

The project will hand-plant conifer seedlings within areas affected by the 2012 Millie Fire, which burned 10,639 acres with varying intensity. Areas scheduled for planting experienced high fire severity in whitebark pine habitat. Artificial reforestation has been prescribed in these areas, where seed supply loss has impacted natural regeneration and planting seedlings will help ensure regeneration of that species. This will ensure ecosystem and watershed health.

Why Whitebark Pine?

Whitebark pine has come under threat by several sources, including beetle infestation, blister rust disease outbreaks, and the changing of forests’ tree composition due to human fire suppression techniques. As humans put out low-level brush fires, the fast-growing whitebark pine, first to fill in an area cleared by fire, is beginning to be replaced by slower growing trees. For these reasons, the species has been listed as endangered by the Canadian Government, while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stated that the species’ status warranted protection.

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