A troubling picture of climate change impacts ravaging western North America is emerging at high elevations where an important species is rapidly disappearing. A groundbreaking report from the Natural Resources Defense Council and a key Endangered Species List decision both pointed to growing danger that the Whitebark Pine (Pinus albicaulis) tree could become functionally extinct before the end of this decade, severely impacting many American and Canadian forests and potentially downstream fisheries and communities. The new report shows that over 80% of the Whitebark Pine forests of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana are already dead or dying.
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Climate change and introduced disease may be the undoing of Whitebark Pine. At left: Trees felled by White Pine Blister Rust around Crater Lake, Oregon. Photo: flickr/Rosemary FE.