Subcommittees and Progress

Fire Management Subcommittee

Subcommittee Lead: Dr. Robert Keane USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station 

Fire has both positive and negative implications for whitebark and limber pine. Regeneration of these species is closely linked to newly burned areas, and fire is important for removing competitors. However, higher-intensity fires can kill five-needle pines, which poses a threat, particularly to important individuals (e.g. Plus trees, reproductively mature trees) and stands (e.g. climax stands). Wildland fire use and prescribed fire are important restoration tools, particularly in the Crown given anticipated increases in productivity (leading to increased competition) and increases in the size and intensity of fires as a result of climate change.

*PROGRESS UPDATE*: In June, 2017, the subcommittee issued “Guidelines and Best Practices for Managing Fire in Whitebark Pine Stands in the Crown of the Continent,” which details a fire management strategy for facilitating the restoration of whitebark pine on subalpine landscapes of the Crown of the Continent.

Loss Mitigation Subcommittee

Subcommittee Lead: Randy Moody, Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation of Canada

While five-needle pine species are not targeted for harvest in the Crown, industrial development does lead to the loss and degradation of whitebark and limber pine. Where mitigation is required, it is typically done ‘on-site’ of the industrial footprint, which may or may not be the most effective way to mitigate for impact. This subcommittee is focused on identifying best management practices for industrial or other use to effectively mitigate for and advance the conservation and restoration goals for imperiled whitebark and limber pine.

*PROGRESS UPDATE*: In July 2017, the subcommittee completed a draft “Beneficial Management Practices for Whitebark and Limber Pine” guidance document. This document is currently in review and comments are welcome and appreciated. Check back here for final release of this document, expected in Fall, 2017.


Inventory and Monitoring Subcommittee

Subcommittee Lead: Gregg DeNitto, US Forest Service, Region 1

A clear and detailed understanding of where whitebark pine and limber pine occur across the Crown, as well as their condition (tracked through time), is crucial to inform an effective landscape-scale restoration action plan. Currently, this knowledge is fragmented: some jurisdictions have good occurrence and condition data, and some, including private lands, have nearly none at all. Data is better for whitebark, but very limited for low-elevation limber pine. This subcommittee is focused on developing a Crown-wide shared database of stand-level occurrence data necessary to inform a CCE-wide restoration strategy.

*PROGRESS UPDATE*: This subcommittee has developed predictive distribution modeling for whitebark pine and limber pine for the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem. In September 2017, this subcommittee also developed a white paper  to guide the High Five Working Group in thinking about and developing a common database.


Crown-wide Restoration Strategy and Action Plan Subcommittee 

Subcommittee Leads: Robert Sissons, Waterton Lakes National Park and Michael Murray, British Columbia Forest Service

Whitebark and limber pine are in peril, and securing these species ability to persist across the Crown (and throughout their range) will require a concentrated and coordinated set of restoration actions. This subcommittee is working to develop a Crown-wide Recovery Plan that would address the following:

  • prioritize areas for conservation and restoration (building on and providing guidance to the Beneficial Management Practices guidance from the Loss Mitigation subcommittee)
  • incorporate clear guidelines for restoration where applicable (working closely with Fire Management Subcommittee and Wilderness Restoration subcommittee),
  • identify mechanisms for sharing resources (including people/teams, contracts for work, funds, seeds, and seedlings),
  • identify opportunities for new funding (e.g. through foundations/partnerships with NGOs, etc)
  • and ensure the strategy fit into broader scale restoration priorities beyond the Crown.

*PROGRESS UPDATE*: This subcommittee will convene a workshop session to begin planning for and developing a Crown-wide Restoration Strategy and Action Plan at the upcoming High Five Working Group meeting November 6-7, 2017 in Missoula, which is being held in conjunction with the Whitebark Pine National Leadership Summit.

Protected Area Restoration Strategy Subcommittee
Subcommittee Lead: Dr. Anne Carlson
, The Wilderness Society
A large amount of whitebark pine occurs in highly protected areas (in the U.S., approximately 50% of whitebark pine occurs in designated Wilderness areas). The protection level afforded to these areas can discourage or even prohibit certain restoration activities. This subcommittee is working to provide recommendations for a management framework that explicitly acknowledge the benefits and drawbacks of managing five-needle pine in highly protected areas.


Communications Subcommittee
Subcommittee Lead: Megan Evans
, Alberta Environment and Parks
Despite the imperiled status of whitebark and limber pine in the Crown, these species do not command the same level of support and priority that other imperiled species do. Part of what will enable more vigorous conservation and restoration of these species is increased awareness and support from the public, policy makers, decision makers, industry and community stakeholders. The Communications Subcommittee is developing a multi-faceted communications strategy that will identify the key audiences and will identify and prioritize communications to those audiences, with the end goal of supporting an increase in the pace and scale of restoration across the Crown.