Whitebark pine is an iconic keystone species found at timberline and subalpine zones in Jackson Hole’s mountainous areas. They grow for centuries on slopes and ridges where other trees cannot survive. They provide essential food to species such as red squirrels, songbirds, and both grizzly and black bears. Additionally, they retain snow, slow spring runoff, increase summer stream flows, and maintain water quality.
Their main threats include wildfires, native mountain pine beetles, and white pine blister rust, an introduced fungal disease from Asia. In the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, roughly 50% of Whitebark pine has been lost or compromised.
Within the last 20 years, mountain pine beetles have infested high elevation area ecosystems that were once considered beyond threat.