Whitebark pines are a keystone species in high-elevation forests across the western U.S. These hardy pines thrive where few other trees can grow, creating crucial forest habitat on mountain slopes. Their fat-rich seeds are a favorite food of grizzly bears and Clark’s nutcrackers. They also shade snow and create snowbanks, preventing the snow from melting too quickly in the spring — crucial for regional water supplies.
Whitebarks are rapidly going extinct due to a nonnative disease, blister rust fungus, as well as intense droughts and fires made worse by climate change.
The REPLANT Act would free up critical funds to bring back whitebark pines. Scientists agree that the best way to stop the pine’s extinction is to plant whitebark seedlings screened for natural resistance to blister rust. Money from the REPLANT Act could fund efforts to grow and plant disease-resistant seedlings on a scale big enough to ensure the species’ future.