Supporting stewardship of the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness 
and fostering appreciation of wild lands.

The Whitebark Pine Survey Project

Whitebark Pine ProjectWhitebark Pine Survey

Project Update:

Whitebark pine has been very much in the news recently, and the ABWF is proud to have had a hand in this work.  Emily Francis and Max Grigri—research fellows hired by Clean Air/Cool Planet and the ABWF—scarcely took a day off from surveying whitebark pine stands at 24 sites across the A-B Wilderness.  If you met these two young research fellows, you were struck by their dedication to prevail at reaching all the sites before the October snows.  And they did it, too!  Together they clocked 1300 hours studying the effects of blister rust and mountain pine beetle on the trees.  Their missions often took three days of difficult travel to get to trailheads, and long backpacks into the high country before they could conduct six numerous surveys at each site.  Up to this point, very little work on this broad a scale had been attempted in the A-B Wilderness.  Because of their efforts, data has now been collected on the health of whitebark pine in our Wilderness!

Max and Emily shared their methodology and findings at a professional conference in Bozeman on Whitebark Pine.  They also led a remarkable hike into one of their study sites on the Line Creek Plateau that taught the 10 participants the ins and outs of the keystone tree species.  The ABWF is proud that Emily’s and Max’s work will better contribute to our understanding of the ecology of the A-B Wilderness.


Mid-July through mid-September

Whitebark Pine is unique to the tree-line environments of the northern Rockies.  This 5-needled pine famously sits at the apex of an important ecological triangle with the Grizzly Bear and the Clark’s Nutcracker—both of which depend on the seeds for protein.  The species so iconic to the high country of the Greater Yellowstone, however, teeters towards threatened status because of mountain pine beetle and blister rust infestations.  Widespread death and decreased cone production threatens Grizzly and Nutcracker populations.

The ABWF is helping sponsor efforts to locate, identify and assess the health of whitebark pine stands in the A-B Wilderness.  We are looking for adventurous volunteers to serve as Citizen Scientists, willing to hike into the high country and collect whitebark pine data with whitebark scientists.  Two interns have been hired to spearhead these research efforts in the field from July through September, and as their schedule is established they will be actively seeking volunteer assistants from the public to accompany them into the field and help them with their work.  A workshop featuring a number of experts on whitebark pine is being held July 8-10 to organize and train the interns, and then our efforts in pairing them with you, the ‘Citizen Scientists’ will commence.  Our original plan was to hold a workshop for interested volunteers to attend, but with the addition of the two trained Whitebark Interns, it will be simpler to train citizen volunteers in the field.  All that you need is an interest in learning more about Whitebark Pines, and a desire to hike into the high-country.  Some missions may be single-day forays while others may require overnight stays.  We may even be able to flex the Interns’ schedules to fit YOUR schedule.  Thanks for your interest and patience…Stay tuned for more details…Call David @ 406-425-1944, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.


Go to top