2007 WBP Restoration on the Sawtooth NRA

Project: Whitebark Pine Restoration on the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.


Agency/Forest or Park/District:  US Forest Service, Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Sawtooth National Forest, Idaho.

Project coordinator:  Robin Garwood

Contact:  Robin Garwood- Sawtooth National Recreation Area, 5 North Fork Canyon Road, Ketchum, Idaho 83340.   208-727-5014.   rgarwood@fs.fed.us

Cooperators:  Idaho Department of Fish and Game

Source of funding /amount

FHP: $9,000

Supplemental funding: $8,400 from Sawtooth NRA and $2,000 from Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

Dates of restoration efforts

Unable to implement the prescribed burn due to weather conditions


To reduce the amount of subalpine fir that has encroached into whitebark pine forests so that WBP can re-establish as the dominant species in these areas; and to create openings (nutcracker openings) in mixed forest stands so that WBP can re-establish in the project areas.

Acres/ha treated

Approximately 1000 acres.


Prescribed fire (aerial methods-“ping-pong balls” from helicopters, and limited hand methods-drip torch) will be used to reduce subalpine fire density at the head of drainages.

Mechanical treatments (hand felling of subalpine fir and handpiling and burning slash) will be used to create openings in areas where prescribed fire is not feasible. Also, prefelling subalpine fir in small areas adjacent to WBP, letting them lie for a year, and then broadcast burning the prefilled areas.

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


No acres were treated in FY07. Extreme drought conditions during the summer produced ERCs in the 95th   to   97th percentile and extremely dry live fuel moistures so that risk of fire escape and risk of inability to meet vegetation objectives were high.  Later in the season (mid through late September) multiple precipitation events occurred resulting in conditions too wet to meet vegetation objectives.   We looked into ways to obligate funds through a contract but were unsuccessful.

We used approximately $1000 of FHP funds do conduct pre-treatment monitoring within two of our project areas.

Monitoring since completion of the project      We modified a protocol (Appendix A) that we’ve used in post-wildfire monitoring of whitebark pine for this project.  We established monitoring plots and collected information at two project areas including 2 treatment plots in each area and one control plot.

            Dates:       Baseline (pre-treatment) monitoring was conducted  July to September 2007 and August to September in 2008.

            Plans for future monitoring?       Pre-treatment bird monitoring was conducted within the project areas in 2008 (See attachment).  No further Whitebark monitoring has been conducted related to this restoration project.  Blister rust monitoring was conducted during the summer of 2013 within the project areas at plots established in 2005.

Will outcome meet goals?

Prescribed burning has not resulted in successfully meeting objectives.  We are currently focusing on mechanical treatment.

Future actions/follow up?

On October 29, 2008 under marginal conditions we attempted aerial ignition in one project area.  Approximately 4,000 potassium permanganate (injected with liquid glycol) balls were dropped.  The objectives were not met due to weather conditions (too cold and too much moisture for significant ignition) with approximately 10 acres burned.  On October 16, 2010 we attempted hand ignition in this same project area with marginal results and approximately 50 acres burned.  Again the desirable weather window was missed.

In September 2013, mechanical treatment was conducted in a different project area through contract.  Subalpine fir was felled (left on site) around identified whitebark pine trees.  Approximately 60 acres were treated in 2014 (thinning around 600 whitebark pine trees).  We will be treating more acres in this manner in late summer 2014.

Miscellaneous comments

As mentioned previously weather conditions this year (2007) prevented us from implementing the prescribed burn.