Jami Westerhold, Esq., Director of Forest Restoration

Volunteers hike to one of the sites where they applied phermone pouches to adult whitebark pine.

Volunteers hike to one of the sites where they applied pheromone patches to adult whitebark pine. Credit: Jami Westerhold/American Forests.

This summer, I had another opportunity to travel home to Wyoming for “work.” I have visited home several times since moving east, but one year, I noticed a shocking number of five-needle pines turning red — a sign of a slow death. Since then, the plague has accelerated.

Working at American Forests, there is something I can do to help these forests survive the twin threats they’re facing — an invasive disease, white pine blister rust, and a scourge of insects, mountain pine beetle. The American Forests Endangered Western Forests initiative is protecting and restoring these high-elevation forests, specifically in the Greater Yellowstone Area.

Emily Stark, a volunteer from Bozeman, Mont., applies a phermone patch to an adult whitebark pine.

Emily Stark, a volunteer from Bozeman, Mont., applies a pheromone patch to an adult whitebark pine. Credit: Jami Westerhold/American Forests.

On my recent trip, I joined several volunteers in Bridger-Teton National Forest just south of Grand Teton  National Park. My colleagues and I attached more than 400 patches of beetle repellant to naturally disease-resistant whitebark pine. The pheromone in these patches is an exact mimic of the verbenone produced by beetles. Verbenone is a natural pheromone that the beetle emits to signal others that the tree cannot support any additional beetles. This causes other beetles to leave and seek another food source. The 400 patches the American Forests volunteers and I helped disperse are just the beginning. American Forests has purchased an additional 1,100 patches to protect the whitebark pine in Bridger-Teton National Forest, and we will purchase even more.

If you are interested in being out in the open air, doing your part to save an important ecosystem, check americanforests.org/ewf for future opportunities to get involved.

To learn more about the Endangered Western Forests initiative and the importance of whitebark pine to forest ecosystems, please visit americanforests.org/ewf .