4 Comments

  1. White pine blister rust is a fascinating disease, and whitebark pine is the most susceptible host species. Western white pine used to be “King Pine” in north Idaho (it’s our state tree), and now it’s commercially nonexistent due to about 100 years of WPBR devastation. Whitebark pine recovery will be one key component of grizzly bear recovery in Idaho (which isn’t politically very popular here), so it’s a complex situation.

    I lecture about WPBR in my plant pathology class every Fall semester, it’s one of my favorites. If anyone’s interested, here’s a great resource about the disease, it’s ecology and history: http://www.apsnet.org/edcenter/intropp/lessons/fungi/Basidiomycetes/Pages/WhitePine.aspx

    The author, Otis Maloy, is a retired professor who lives just down the road from me, and we also have some adjoining forest acreage nearby. We were having coffee together just the other day and talking about blister rust, there’s some great history and photos in his article that I linked, including Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) efforts to eradicate the alternate host (gooseberry/currant) of the pathogen in Idaho forests (it didn’t work). But that might be one side benefit of Rx burning in this project.

  2. Of course, if your idea of thinning is to cut and pile trees less than 9″ dbh, you will ignore the economic aspect of the project. I have seen units embedded in timber sales that do just that, paid for with logs from other units.

    Here in California, we have a robust collection of protected rust-resistant sugar pines. I wonder if there are any western white pines designated as rust-resistant, here. Yes, they do get very large in some places in the High Sierra.

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  3. Part of the project is that no trees will be harvested. I can not understand why letting our public resource lay there to waste is better than making trying to make something out of them. Do we really have enough taxpayers money to spend like this when we could actually create sustainable economies with projects like this and put funds back into the public’s budget.

    • I question how much “bang for the buck” is really happening here. Certainly, in some Forests, “doing something” is better than doing nothing, it seems. I think that Roadless and other areas could be better protected with roadside fuels treatment strips, designed to reduce man-caused ignition escapes. Certainly, 3500 acres is going to be expensive but, will it have a lasting significant impact/effect?

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