Scientists, land managers work to restore whitebark pine nationwide

By Helena Dore
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle
February 12, 2023
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

The Little Bear Seed Orchard on the Custer Gallatin National Forest is playing an important role in national efforts to restore whitebark pine. Employees there tend whitebark pine grafts. …Clay DeMastus, the site’s former manager, said they have a 7-acre seed orchard, a clone bank and two test plantations. The orchard was set up on a clearcut from the 1980s’, and the first whitebark pine grafts were planted there in 2013. Grafts at the orchard get selected and tested for their apparent genetic resistance to invasive white pine blister rust, which is caused by an Asian fungus. They are sourced from the Greater Yellowstone area, and they’re also screened for tolerance to cold weather and drought, DeMastus said. Land managers hope the orchard’s trees will produce cones, which contain the rust-resistant seeds that can be planted throughout the region. …They are working with others to study whitebark pine genetic resistance to the rust. 

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