Forests in the Northern Rockies are vital for local economies
Forests in the Northern Rockies are a mecca for skiers, anglers, climbers and other outdoor enthusiasts. In Montana alone, the outdoor recreation industry generates $7.1 billion in consumer spending each year and supports more than 71,000 jobs. Forests in this region also support tens of thousands of jobs in timber, conservation and wildlands firefighting and forest restoration. In Idaho, for example, forest products like lumber and pulp support roughly 11,000 jobs.
Forests in the Northern Rockies are essential for the water supply
Most of the water supply in this region originates in mountain forests. Forests absorb rain and snowmelt, and slowly release this water during the dry summer months. Trees also help filter water and keep it clear of sediment, while casting shade that prevents snow from melting too quickly. Whitebark pines and other high-elevation trees are particularly important for the regional water supply. They act like snow fences, creating snow drifts that slowly release water during warmer, drier months.
Forests in the Northern Rockies provide key wildlife habitat
These forests are home to North America’s most charismatic wildlife, including grizzly bears, Canada lynx, wolves, wolverines, mountain goats and more. Whitebark pines, which grow where few other trees can thrive, create forest habitats on otherwise barren mountain slopes.
Forests in the Northern Rockies help protect the climate
Forests in this region store vast amounts of carbon. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in their wood and roots for hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of years. Whitebark pines, for example, can live to be over 1,000 years old. This ability to capture and store carbon is declining, however, as wildfires and other threats devastate many forests in the region. Montana’s forests, for instance, have transitioned from being a carbon sink to a carbon source.