First it was the mysterious, wide-spread death of aspen trees.
Then it was the near annihilation of all of Colorado’s mature lodgepole forests by a plague of pine beetles.
Now, the forest service is worried about limber pines and their relatives in the white pine family, including the ancient bristlecone pines.
The combination of blister rust — a non-native fungus — and pine beetles, which also feed on limber pines, is killing off the ancient trees at unprecedented rates.
The U.S. Forest Service has recently beefed up a campaign to save limber pines by looking for the hardiest trees and collecting their cones.
From last weekend’s Daily Camera:
On Saturday, the first of several groups of volunteers organized by Boulder County’s Parks and Open Space Department will scour the mountains west of Boulder in an effort to save the limber pines by collecting their cones.
The cones — and more importantly, the seeds they contain — will be handed off to the U.S. Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station, where researchers will cultivate young pines, searching for the healthiest individual trees.
“We’re going to test the resulting seedlings for resistance to blister rust, an introduced fungal pathogen,” said Thomas Crow, manger of the limber pine program. “It’s part of a more proactive approach to management.”
Read more posts about forest health on BigGreenBoulder:
|Beetle-killed trees threaten Colorado power grid||Rocky Mountain aspens could disappear by 2090|