Critical high altitude pine has been nearly wiped out by beetles, fire, blister rust-

These trees with fat rich nuts are already getting federal government attention, but mortality is even worse than thought. The large majority of whitebark grow on U.S. public lands. The work will concentrate on protecting existing stands using pheromones to confuse the bark beetle, maybe insecticides, and collection of seeds from beetle and blister rust resistant trees.

The whitebark pine nuts are of great food value to grizzly bears.  The high altitude location of the stands also keep the bears out of harms way during hunting season. Whitebark pine also support the Clarks Nutcracker, another member of the super intelligent jay (Corvidae) family.

A tree with a few, but tremendous biological threats like the whitebark, makes me think the unthinkable to some. Perhaps some genetic engineering might produce a whitebark that the beetles hates and cannot be infected by this non-native rust. We would not have to worry about the promiscuous spread of engineered trees because they grow slowly.

Details on the listing are in the Jackson Hole Daily.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

5 Responses to U.S. government will add whitebark pine to endangered species list

  1. avatar CodyCoyote says:

    Yes, they will technically add the Whitebark Pine to the Endangered Species list, but in the same sentence say they wont do anything about it for the forseeable. No money , no resources, no manpower to address the criticality.

    It’s just a wave of the arm and some words…

    • Cody,

      Yes, the sorry “warranted but precluded” label because of the deliberate defunding of ESA operations. This won’t be remedied until there is political change at a higher level.

      Fortunately there is agency interest in recovering whitebark pine. USFWS funds don’t need to be used, and there are no interest groups opposed to protecting whitebark.

  2. avatar Pronghorn says:

    The heading on this post sent me to the recycle bin for the morning paper, as I was sure I had read just the opposite. The Missoulian and Billings Gazette AP articles have this headline: “Whitebark pines ailing, but don’t get federal endangered species listing.” Maybe it’s just a matter of semantics, but “warranted but precluded” isn’t really the same as making the list or getting listed, as the Jack Hole Daily states. Just ask the wolverine!

  3. avatar Mike says:

    Unfortunately most people don’t understand what it means when indicator species start disappearing. If they did, we’d have the resources to implement immediate action.

    We’re on the same list, just a little bit down.

  4. avatar WM says:

    Whitebark pine on Mt. Rainier, near Sunrise, hold promise for disease resistant propagation, researchers say.

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2015690617_whitebark22m.html

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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