Tomback and Students - American Forests Magazine Autumn 2012

Dr. Diana Tomback and her doctorate students with a 500-year-old whitebark pine in Custer National Forest, Wyo. Credit: Jami Westerhold/American Forests

Jami Westerhold, Director of Strategic Initiatives

This summer, I took a week-long trip to the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA) to begin work on American Forests’ Endangered Western Forests initiative. The GYA pilot project addresses a combination of threats — white pine blister rust, mountain pine beetles and climate change — that are jeopardizing the health of western high-elevation forests.

The majority of the trip was spent in my hometown of Cody, Wyo. There, I met with various groups, like the Rotary and Optimist Clubs, the Chamber of Commerce and the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, to discuss synergies for future public outreach and education programs on the issues facing the local forests.

During this visit, I also spent a day in Custer National Forest shadowing researchers with the Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation, including American Forests Science Advisory Board member Dr. Diana Tomback. The field work involved planting 480 caches of whitebark pine seeds — mimicking Clark’s nutcracker, which is a main contributor to the regeneration of whitebark pine trees through its caches. The caches will be revisited next year to determine if growth success varies across elevation and microsite type.

American Forests is partnering with a myriad of local scientific experts to coordinate and utilize research to support the continuous development of improved management and restoration techniques. This is just one of many trips to ensure that our strategy addressing the challenges facing western forests is effective and replicable.

Learn more about American Forests’ Endangered Western Forests initiative.