2013 WBP Protection in the Centennials

Project: Whitebark Pine Protection

Agency/Forest or Park/District:  Centennial Mountain Range, Dubois Ranger District, Caribou-Targhee National Forest, Idaho.

Project coordinator:  Avery Beyer

Contact:  Avery Beyer, Teton Basin Ranger District, Caribou-Targhee National Forest, PO Box 777, 515 S. Main, Driggs, ID 83429, 208-354-6624, abeyer@fs.fed.us

Cooperators:  Eastern Idaho Resource Advisory Committee

Source of funding /amount

FHP: $12,900

Supplemental funding: $7,223 from Forest Service and $1,359 from the Clark Co. ID Resource Advisory Committee. FS contribution covered base salary for workers from the Dubois RD. FHP and RAC funding was used to pay for supplies and OT which allowed firefighters to work longer hours during work days and on normal days off. Additional workers from a neighboring Ranger District who horse-packed into and camped on a remote access portion of the treatment area were also funded by the FHP and RAC contributions.

Dates of restoration efforts

Summer 2013


This project would create fuel breaks around approximately 473 mature, cone bearing trees while also reducing the competing vegetation.

One of the key benefits from this project is to ensure the long-term viability of whitebark pine in the GYA by identifying cone producing whitebark pine for protection and promote genetic diversity and conservation. One of the strategic objectives in the Whitebark Pine Strategy for the Greater Yellowstone Area (WBPS) is to protect remaining cone-bearing whitebark pine throughout the GYA (page 7), reduce forest fuels from whitebark pine stands and protect remaining mature seed source trees to ensure propagule availability (page 8), emphasize maintaining and restoring whitebark pine stands inside the grizzly bear Primary Conservation Areas and in other areas occupied by grizzly bears (page 8). This area is located within occupied grizzly bear habitat and identified as whitebark pine stands with high priority for restoration as identified in the Whitebark Pine Strategy for the Greater Yellowstone Area (page 17).

Acres/ha treated

428 WBP trees protected, approx. 296 acres treated within 7,211 acre project area


Crews used chainsaws to cut existing conifers from around mature, cone-producing whitebark pine trees for approximately 50-100 feet creating a fuel break. Distance for removal of fuels varied dependent upon topography and slope. Slash was pulled back, lopped, scattered or piled and will be burned if/when conditions permit.

Planting? If so, source of seedlings? Resistance?  No


Thinning was completed. Slash piles to be burned as conditions allow. Field crew used chainsaws to cut existing conifers (mainly subalpine fir) from around whitebark pine trees from 25 to 75 feet creating a fuel break. Distance for removal of fuels could vary depending upon topography and slope. This prescription did provide for a measure of protection, but did not provide good guidance based upon fuel loading. In generally open areas and ridge tops crews were able to easily accomplish protective measures. There were dense stands where the whitebark pine were a minor component and/or over-topped by larger trees. This is covered in more detail later in this report.

Monitoring since completion of the project


            Plans for future monitoring?   A subset of the treated trees will be re-visited to assess the effectiveness of the treatment, condition of the tree and check for regeneration.

Will outcome meet goals?


Future actions/follow up?

Slash piles will be burned when conditions exist to meet objectives.

Miscellaneous comments

Originally 473 trees were identified within the project area for protection. 27 of those trees had died in the interval between project conception and completion. 26 trees were located in large patches of dense competition. Field crews determined that the amount of slash created would be excessive, that there was not a reasonable location to pile/scatter it, and that stand conditions were such that any fire occurrences would likely be of the stand replacing high intensity type. The decision was made to defer treatment in these areas where excessive time/resources would be spent with a low likelihood of success. The field crew also found a few new whitebark pines that the original survey had missed. Most were located in the very dense areas where treatment was not viable, but 8 additional trees were protected that had not been originally surveyed.