A multi-agency team is developing a strategy to preserve the insect- and disease-threatened whitebark pine tree that is considered a foundation species in mountains across the West.
Growing just below timberline, whitebark pine shades snow, thus slowing snowmelt. It allows other plants to gain a foothold in its rugged terrain, said Kelly McCloskey, Whitebark Pine Committee chair and ecologist at Teton National Park.
Bumping over seemingly endless rutted four-wheel drive trails, hiking in rugged country or chasing baying hounds describes part of the work to capture and study mountain lions north of Lovell.
The goal of a three-year project is to determine the relationship between mountain lions and their primary prey, mule deer, and possibly bighorn sheep and wild horse foals. The ultimate objective is sustainable populations of the deer, sheep and wild horses and their top predator, mountain lions, in the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area and vicinity, said Linsey Blake in her thesis proposal.
Douglas fir beetles may be wreaking havoc on their pine-tree victims, but the insects can be fooled so trees in the Shoshone Forest’s developed areas can survive the beetles unscathed.
Since around 2000, Douglas fir trees in campgrounds along the North Fork of the Shoshone River have been treated with methylcyclohexanone, or MCH, said Kurt Allen, etiologist for the U.S. Forest Service in Rapid City, S.D.