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Whitebark Pine Facing Extinction, Report Says

Ron Wolf via Flickr

The Whitebark Pine is a common site in Northwest Wyoming. But a changing climate means it may not be for much longer. That’s according to anew report from the Endangered Species Coalition.

Matt Skoglund is a director with the National Resources Defense Council, which worked on the report. Whitebark Pines only grow elevations above seven thousand feet, and Skoglund says that used to keep them safe from their greatest natural enemy: the Mountain Pine beetle.

“Historically you would have these big cold snaps in the winter. They would kill back the Mountain Pine beetle when it got up high into the Whitebark country. But with warming winters we are not getting those prolonged cold snaps to kill back the beetles.”

Skoglund calls the Whitebark pine a “keystone species:” They provide food to animals, and their canopy shields snowpack later into the spring when it's most needed.

Skoglund says there has already been a massive die off of Whitebark Pines in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem.

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