Grizzly bear, one of the species being aided by this restoration project. Credit: Don DeBold

Project Name:
Grouse Mountain Whitebark Pine Restoration

Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyo.

Key Activities:

  • Planting 11,000 trees across 44 acres
  • Reforesting an ecosystem damaged by the mountain pine beetle
  • Restoring damaged wildlife habitat

Project Description:
American Forests and the U.S. Forest Service are reforesting 44 acres of Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest with 11,000 whitebark pine to reforest an area experiencing high forest mortality due to the mountain pine beetle.

Why This Project:
In recent years, an unprecedented number of mountain pine beetle have descended upon America’s western forests, adversely affecting many five-needle pine species, especially those without natural defenses to the beetle, such as the whitebark pine. In areas of Bridger-Teton National Forest, mature whitebark pine trees are experiencing near 100 percent mortality due to the beetle.

This project is focused on testing and demonstrating different silvicultural methods to try to restore whitebark pine to the area. The high-elevation species is critical to watershed health and as a food supply for Clark’s nutcracker, the threatened grizzly bear and other species. This project is also part of American Forests Endangered Western Forests initiative, which is focused on research and restoration of whitebark pine in the Greater Yellowstone Area.

Why Grizzly Bears:
Four hundred years ago, the grizzly bear numbered around 50,000; today, that number is down to less than 1,400, making the species threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

The declining whitebark pine produces seeds that are a favorite part of the grizzly’s diet, which consists of nuts, berries, fruit, leaves, roots and seeds. Whitebark pine seeds, commonly known as pine nuts, are high in fat, which makes them an ideal food source for bears bulking up to survive winter hibernation. It’s estimated that Yellowstone-area grizzlies can receive up to two-thirds of their net digested energy from pine seeds.

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