MTPR

whitebark pine

The U.S. Forest Service and Montana DNRC work to plant more than 13,000 whitebark pine seedlings in the Swan Mountain Range as a cooperative post-burn restoration project on June 18, 2018.
Nicky Ouellet / MTPR

After a wildfire, forest managers know that a forest can and will bounce back on its own. Still, the U.S. Forest Service doles out millions of dollars each year for post-burn restoration and rehabilitation.

Whitebark pine.
Famartin (CC-BY-SA-3)

I first visited Glacier National Park in June. Though winter had only recently loosened its grip on the Crown of the Continent, there were blue skies and sunshine as I hiked up a high-elevation glacial basin. The temperature was a balmy 60 degrees.

 A crew member from Ronan and Associates climbs a whitebark pine tree to collect cones at Whitefish Mountain Resort.
Nicky Ouellet

Whitebark pine is a species on the brink of endangerment. If whitebark go, several species of wildlife, including grizzly bears, will lose a significant food source. But researchers are slowly piecing together how to harness the tree’s natural defenses to preserve it.