In Montana, a Tribally Led Effort to Restore the Whitebark Pine

By Sarah Mosquera
Undark Magazine
June 5, 2024
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Across the North American West, ancient whitebark pines grow along mountain ridges. Although these trees have been known to thrive for hundreds of years, they have faced an accelerated decline for nearly a century. …According to a 2018 study conducted by the U.S. Forest Service, the tree’s population has declined by up to 90 percent in certain areas, including on the lands of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. The whitebark pines are a keystone species in high-elevation ecosystems. Over 100 species rely on the tree for food, shelter, and habitat. The trees also contribute to ecosystem stability by preventing soil erosion and regulating water flow. Maintaining the trees is vital. And on the Flathead Indian Reservation in western Montana, which contains some 110,000 acres of whitebark pine habitat, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes are fighting to protect and restore this iconic and ecologically important species, ensuring its survival for future generations.

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