2007 Assessing WBP Mortality in the Greater Yellowstone

Project: An assessment of Whitebark Pine mortality in the Greater Yellowstone Region

Agency/Forest or Park/District: Bridger-Teton & Shoshone National Forests

Project coordinator: Liz Davy

Contact: Liz Davy- Bridger-Teton National Forest and Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee Whitebark Pine Committee Chairperson, P.O. Box 1888, Jackson, WY 83001.   307-739-5562  edavy@fs.fed.us


Remote Sensing Application Center, USFS; Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks; Beaverhead-Deerlodge, Caribou-Targhee, Custer, Gallatin and Shoshone National Forests; USGS Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team (IGBST); Gregg DeNitto; Steve Munson; Dayle Bennet; Frank Cross; Regional Forest Health Protection staff (R1, R2, R4); Jim Elenwood Fort Collins Forest Health Remote Sensing specialist.

Source of funding /amount

FHP: $3,090

Supplemental funding: $30,000 from RSAC; $18,000 from Bridger-Teton and Shoshone staff

Dates of restoration efforts    2007 – 2008


Develop a strategy, process and tools to detect mortality in whitebark pine across 14 million acres of public lands. Focus restoration on whitebark pine needing immediate and long-term restoration.

–          Examine different (high/low) resolution imagery and technology to determine what can best (cot effective, efficient and extent of coverage) determine the extent and location of dead WBP trees in the GYE

–          Accurately depict (map) trends (rate of change) in insect and disease movement throughout WBP forests of the region

–          Develop a protocol for identifying extent and rate of change (mortality of WBP) in the future.

Develop a restoration strategy using the assessment (extent and location) of dead whitebark pine, rate of change or movement of pathogens, coupled with unique management areas (wilderness areas, Research Natural Areas, roadless areas), emphasis areas for reintroducing fire on the landscape and primary grizzly bear conservation areas

Acres/ha treated

WBP stands in the Wind River Mountain Range


–          Examination of different existing remote sensing imagery. Interpretation and detection of dead WBP will be performed by coupling imagery being tested with the known occurrence map of WBP created by USGS. Data and imagery may include Modis imagery (250m), NAIP (1 meter for MT), Aster data, Landsat (30 meter) and orthophotos.

–          Examination of previous depictions of WBP- looking at 1-5 year intervals of imagery. Use available information sources that can be used to determine previous levels or extenrs of WBP mortality = Aerial Survey, FIA plots, Landsat satellite imagery, Yellowstone N.P. (Kate Kendal’s survey data-early to mid-1980’s), Hyperspectral Imagery from Yellowstone Ecological Research Center (YERC), GYA monitoring project started in 2004.

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


Early summer 2007, obtained several years of imagery for pilot area, identified plots to be field verified. Developed data collection protocols to verify imagery and modeling.

Summer 2007, measured plots to ground truth the satellite imagery and accuracy of the change detection estimates.

Fall and winter 2007-2008 – analyzed field data, overlay whitebark pine dominance types over maps, produce map of whitebark pine mortality for pilot area.

Finalize protocols and costs for estimating landscape mortality of whitebark pine and present them to the GYCC whitebark pine committee in June 2008.

GYCC whitebark pine committee will submit proposals for funding a mortality map for whitebark pine across the entire GYA’s range of whitebark pine. Use this information to prioritize areas for whitebark pine restoration in 2008.

Preliminary results indicate that satellite imagery can detect mortality in conifers over a large area (90 meter pixels). Lisa Landenberger’s whitebark pine map is fairly accurate or at least where the plots were taken.

Final results, summary of findings and field and image modeling protocols will be completed by May 2008.

Monitoring since completion of the project

Spatial data is being updated based on 2012 NAIP imagery, as mountain pine beetle damage has subsided

            Dates January – May 2014

            Plans for future monitoring? Data layers originally created in this project will be updated periodically as changing stand conditions dictate.

Will outcome meet goals?: This mapping effort has been invaluable in planning ground surveys and prioritizing restoration activities in the GYA

Future actions/follow up?: We are currently updating this layer based on recent NAIP imagery following severe mountain pine beetle mortality and incorporating recent fires.