Whitebark pine

Whitebark pines have adapted to harsh conditions and heavy snow in the Rocky Mountains.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officially designated the whitebark pine as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act last Wednesday, acknowledging the tree’s rapid decline due to white pine blister rust, a non-native fungus.

The new federal protections make it illegal to remove, possess, or damage the tree on federal lands, carry it across state lines, or otherwise import or export the tree. Seeds can also be only collected from federal lands for tribal ceremonial or traditional use.

“We applaud the decision by the USFWS to list whitebark pine as threatened,” Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation Director David Neale stated on Dec. 14. “It also brings much-needed attention to the plight of this remarkable tree and builds further public support for the challenging restoration work ahead.”

Clark’s nutcracker (copy)

A Clark’s nutcracker sits atop a branch in Warm Springs.

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