2016 Helena-Lewis and Clark NF WBP Planting

General Project Information

Project Title: Helena-Lewis and Clark NF WBP Planting

Project Dates: 2016

Year project implementation started:

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)

Matthew Voigt – mvoigt@fs.fed.us – 406-791-7752;

Riley Dopler – rdopler@fs.fed.us – 406-495-3920

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.)

1) Lincoln Ranger District (D4), Helena Zone of Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest, Montana

2) Belt Creek – White Sulphur Springs and Judith – Musselshell Ranger Districts (D3, D4, D6, D7), Lewis and Clark Zone of the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest, Montana

Cooperators: (List cooperating agencies and s 2016ub-units, other companies/organizations, and individuals as needed.)


Project Funding

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

Forest Health Protection funding                   $  9,600.00

Other funding                                                 $47, 011.44

Total                                                               $56,611.44


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



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.)

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

100 acres – 19,400 trees

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.)

1) Lincoln RD – Helena Zone: Granite Butte (46.8696°N, 112.4533°W)

2) Lewis and Clark Zone: Lost Fork Ridge, D3-D7 (46.7711°N, 110.5786°W)

Objective(s) (from original request):

The expected result of these restoration projects is to successfully stock these areas with genetically diverse and locally adapted seedlings with a high degree of rust resistance.

Planting success of WBP on the Helena National Forest has been very good with stake row

surveys indicating 99% survival.

This will be the first operational planting effort on the Lewis and Clark National Forest but we intend to continue annual restoration plantings throughout the 310-acre analysis area identified on Lost Fork Ridge. Both of these projects should meet the objective while also furthering our local knowledge about using planting as a restoration tool. Subsequent monitoring efforts will also help determine future management techniques necessary to insure these plantations survive and perpetuate into the future. In the future, it is expected these trees will provide vital ecosystem services including: providing a food source for several species of birds and mammals, increasing watershed health by regulating snow melt and run off, and providing stability for rocky, shallow, and underdeveloped high elevation soils. Re-establishment of WBP in areas where populations have disappeared due to large scale disturbance will ultimately enhance and restore populations of this critical sensitive species on the Forest.

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

Number of seedlings planted (List by location if applicable): 19,400

Was the seed source screened for resistance? (If other, explain.)

1) Granite Butte collection area seed was tested for rust resistance and determined to be in the top 25th percentile of rust resistance based on screening data from Regional Geneticist Dr. Mary Frances Mahalovich.

2) Lost Fork Ridge seedlings were derived from seed lot Jefferson11. This seed was collected prior to rust screening data being available for operational collections; however, seed was collected from plus trees, elite trees, and other phenotypically superior trees showing little to no sign of blister rust infection. Upon review of the screening data from collection areas, most of the seed collected in this effort was derived from collection areas in the top 25th percentile of rust resistance.

Were Plus trees used? Plus trees and others


Through FHP WBP restoration funding, Reforestation Partnership Funding, and Forest level funding we were able to plant 19,400 WBP seedlings across 100 acres of burned area that was once dominated by whitebark pine. We have furthered our knowledge of using whitebark pine planting as a tool to restore the species in areas that have burned over and have not successfully regenerated with whitebark pine. We have also been successful at procuring outside funding to accomplish these restoration goals by securing funds from both Forest Health Protection whitebark pine restoration funding and reforestation partnership funding to help augment limited appropriated funds for accomplishing this important work.

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

The project is complete. Planting was completed on the Granite Butte site on 10/12/2016. Planting was completed on the Lost Fork Ridge site on 10/14/2016.

Will outcome meet objectives?

Outcomes from this project should meet the objective of successfully stocking these areas with genetically diverse and locally adapted seedlings with a high degree of rust resistance.


Project Follow-Up

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

Yes, staked row surveys were installed in both plantations to systematically monitor the success of these plantings. Staked rows were established throughout the planting area to capture the variability of site and growing conditions. First, third, and fifth year stocking surveys have been scheduled to determine if the planting effort has achieved the desired stocking level within the units. In addition, long term monitoring plots are scheduled to be established next spring to allow us to repeatedly observe the health and survival of these seedlings and derive any future management actions necessary to ensure the success of these plantations into the future.

Changes Needed or Problems Encountered:

A few problems were encountered with the implementation of this project. The first was completing the Small NEPA process for the Lost Fork Ridge WBP Planting. This project was introduced to the Lewis and Clark Small NEPA team on December 3, 2015. The decision memo was not signed until September 28, 2016. Interdisciplinary analysis of this planting project took longer than expected due to the extensive work load specialists had obligated to larger NEPA projects (EA’s and EIS’s). The delay in the NEPA process resulted in delaying the lift/pack and shipping request from the Region 1 nursery in Coeur d’ Alene. We were unable to receive these trees until 9/30 and scheduled the contract crew to start planting on 10/3. On 10/3, a winter storm hit central Montana blanketing the planting units with 2-4 inches of snow resulting in delay of planting until the snow melted. Planting was rescheduled for Monday, 10/11. On 10/11, another winter storm came through, depositing 2 inches of snow on Granite Butte and 8 inches of snow on the Lost Fork Ridge planting site. Warm weather followed this storm bringing highs in the 60’s to the mountains and planting was able to occur later that week.

The freshly melted snow in the planting units provided great soil moisture conditions and luckily the ground had not frozen with the cold temperatures associated with these storms. Since planting, weather has been favorable at these high elevation sites hopefully allowing for root expansion from containers prior to trees going into dormancy for the winter.