2016 Enhancing Regeneration of Whitebark Pine on the Sawtooth National Forest

General Project Information

Project Title: Enhancing Regeneration of Whitebark Pine on the Sawtooth National Forest

Project Dates: 2016

Year project implementation started: 2015

How many more years is this project expected to continue, if any?

Project Contact: (Please provide complete information for primary contact(s), e.g., name, position, phone number, email, agency name, unit/sub-unit)

Robin Garwood, rgarwood@fs.fed.us, 208-727-5014

Deb Taylor, djtaylor@fs.fed.us, 208-622-0085

Location (Land management agency or ownership and name of geographic area(s) where project was implemented. This information should be specific enough to identify a general project location on a map but not specific enough to compromise the project.)

Sawtooth National Recreation Area (NRA)

Cooperators: (List cooperating agencies and sub-units, other companies/organizations, and individuals as needed.)


Project Funding

Funding Sources (amount FHP/amount other incl. in-kind)

Forest Health Protection funding                    $2,500

Other funding                                                  $5,390

Total                                                                 $7,890

Did Whitebark Restoration funding get used or obligated? (If not, please explain.)  Yes

FHP funding was used to contract with a planting crew to plant 1,500 PIAL seedlings. USFWS funding was used to contract for planting of 1,145 PIAL seedlings.


Project Details

Scope and/or Size of Project or Treated Area: (Include a short description of the project or treatment area if helpful in understanding the scope of the project.)

A total of 2,645 whitebark pine (PIAL) seedlings were planted in 2016 across 15 acres. In 2015, 10 acres were planted with 2,500 PIAL seedlings. This was the second season of planting in an estimated 5-year planting project on Railroad Ridge.

Number of Acres or Other Units Treated, Monitored, or Surveyed: 15

Specific location of project or treated area(s): (If desired, add more specific project location information here, e.g., UTMs, Lat-long, specific landmark. Otherwise, indicate if more information is available by request.)

Railroad Ridge, Sawtooth NRA

Objective(s) (from original request):

To accelerate the regeneration of whitebark pine in areas with high mortality (90%) of mature whitebark pine from the most recent mountain pine beetle epidemic.

Planting: (Please answer the following questions if the project includes plantings or cone collections.)

Number of seedlings planted (List by location if applicable): 2,645.

Was the seed source screened for resistance? (Yes/No. If other, explain.)

No. The seedlings were propagated from operational seed collected from PIAL trees on Railroad Ridge in 2010.

Were Plus trees used?



PIAL seedlings were propagated from a local seed source. Planting of the 2,645 PIAL 2-year-old seedlings was accomplished (1,500 PIAL seedlings planted with FHP funding) over 15 acres through a contract.

The Sawtooth NF has implemented 5 PIAL plantings in 4 years. One planting was in July with seed from an unknown source using volunteers for planting. The others were planted in October by contract planting crews with seedlings from a local seed source. Funding sources include USFWS, FHP, American Foresters, and Forest project funding. Monitoring indicates seedling mortality is greater in the 3rd and 4th year (~60% survival) than the 1st and 2nd year (75%).  Seedlings do not have any increase in height at the 4th year.

Project Status (Is the project complete? If not, what remains to be accomplished and when?

Yes. In 2016, PIAL planting was completed using the $2,500 FHP funding received. The funding was intended to be used for planting 1,500 PIAL seedlings on Boundary Creek ridge on the Sawtooth NRA. Due to exceptionally expensive contracting bids for the Boundary Creek planting, we were required to modify a 2-year (2015 & 2016) existing contract for planting services on Railroad Ridge. The Sawtooth NF is implementing a 5-year PIAL planting project on Railroad Ridge; the seedlings were planted in the second year of that project in addition to the seedlings contracted for that year.

Will outcome meet objectives?

Yes, the planting objective was met. The Forest will monitor seedling survival to determine if stand regeneration objectives will be met.


Project Follow-Up

Are there plans for monitoring or follow-up? (If not, please explain.)

Yes. The Forest monitors survival of PIAL seedlings annually for the first 5 years, then once every 5 years. In 2016, seedling survival on Railroad Ridge was 79% for the one-year PIAL planting (2015). In 2017, seedling survival for both the 2015 & 2016 plantings will be monitored. (Two percent of the total number of seedlings planted have permanent stakes. An additional 10% of total planted seedlings have GPS locations recorded and photos points.)

Changes Needed or Problems Encountered:

  • Contracting bids were high in 2016. The bids ranged from $8,500 to $18,000 for 1,500 seedlings. The contractors were concerned about distance to planting site without being able to used motorized travel. The Boundary Creek planting site is approximately a 3-mile hike uphill on a well-maintained trail. This is not an uncommon distance to reach PIAL planting sites on the Sawtooth NF. The Forest has discussed using helicopter transport with an additional cost to the project. Planning ahead and getting contracts advertised during winter months when contractors do not know how much work will be available could increase potential for more competitive bids. In previous years, contract bids were $1.50/seedling. It would be helpful to know how other forests manage PIAL plantings.
  • Region 4 requested Lucky Peak Nursery (LPN) be utilized for PIAL propagation. In 2014, a sow order for 2,500 seedlings was placed at LPN. In 2016, LPN was only able to supply 545 seedlings. Fortunately, Coeur d’ Alene Nursery (CDA) had a surplus in 2015 and we were able to plant 2,645 seedlings in 2016. We are only requesting PIAL seedlings from CDA in the future.
  • Contract implementation and inspections went well in 2016. The crew consisted of 6 planters. Three Forest Inspectors worked with planters to assure correct planting techniques, and establish GPS and photo monitoring areas. In previous years, the crews consisted of more planters making it very difficult for inspectors to keep up with planters. It is a good idea to know how many planters will arrive and plan enough inspectors to cover the crew. It is difficult for an inspector to watch more than 2 or 3 planters.