U.S. Joint Fire Science Program


All Fired-Up: Whitebark Pines are Crucial in the Cascades and Beyond

Date of this Version


Document Type



Fire Science Brief, Issue 21, November 2008


US government work.


A tree exists in North America that survives some of the harshest physical conditions on Earth—it is the whitebark pine. But this tree, capable of surviving fi re and extreme cold, confronts threats for which it is evolutionarily unprepared. Michael Murray, an ecologist at Crater Lake National Park, along with his colleague Joel Siderius, found that whitebark pines have been impacted by fi re exclusion in the Cascades. The trees also experience a range of fi re severity uncommon in most other species. This exceptional tree faces emerging threats from the blister rust, and mountain pine beetle outbreaks that are shifting to higher elevations due to climate change. With detailed information on how the whitebark pine responds to fi re in the Cascade Range, Murray hopes that managers and planners will be better prepared to restore this species.

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