The nodules are a sign that blister rust has infected the tree. Credit: American Forests

About the Mission-West Gold ReLeaf Project:

American Forests and the U.S. Forest Service are reforesting 177 acres across multiple National Forests in the Idaho panhandle with western white pine, ponderosa pine, western larch and Engelmann spruce to create strains resistant to the blister rust epidemic.

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:

Multiple National Forests in Idaho

Key ReLeaf Activities:

  • Planting 70,000 trees across 177 acres
  • Restoring an ecosystem damaged by blister rust
  • Restoring habitat for white pine and flammulated owl
  • Restoring the Mission Creek Watershed

Why This ReLeaf Project?

The introduction of white pine blister rust, an exotic disease, and decades of fire suppression have led to a reduction in tree species biodiversity, creating stand conditions that are more susceptible to possible future severe disturbances. This forest restoration work will also benefit wildlife habitat and increase fire and climate change resilience. Part of this project is in the Mission Creek watershed, which provides the community water supply for local homeowners in the Mission Creek Water Association. Another part would regenerate 30 acres of dry forest openings with ponderosa pine. Additionally, some of these sites have the potential to serve as suitable habitat for the flammulated owl.

Why These Species?

As this watershed is crucial to the water supply of the local community, as well as the threatened flammulated owl species, it is crucial that it be protected by preventing erosion. Stands of tree species resistant to the prevalent blister rust epidemics must be introduced, both for ecosystem and watershed preservation, as the trees will prevent erosion of topsoil into the watershed area. The whitebark pine in particular must be protected, as it is nearly endangered in many areas. Furthermore, the flammulated owl, as a species with a large migratory range, is crucial to many ecosystems along its route.


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