The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a long tradition of scientific excellence and always uses the best-available science to inform its work to conserve fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitat for the benefit of the American public.
Created in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt, today's National Wildlife Refuge System protects habitats and wildlife across the country, from the Alaskan tundra to subtropical wetlands. Managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Refuge System's 560-plus refuges cover more than 150 million acres and protect nearly 1,400 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish.
While national wildlife refuges were created to protect wildlife, they are for people too. Refuges are ideal places for people of all ages to explore and connect with the natural world. We invite you to learn more about and visit the national wildlife refuges and wetland management districts in Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.
The Mountain-Prairie Region's Office of Ecological Services (ES) works to restore and protect healthy populations of fish, wildlife, and plants and the environments upon which they depend. Using the best available science, ES personnel work with Federal, State, Tribal, local, and non-profit stakeholders, as well as private land owners, to avoid, minimize, and mitigate threats to our Nation's natural resources.
Providing leadership in the conservation of migratory bird habitat through partnerships, grants, and outreach for present and future generations. The Migratory Bird Program is responsible for maintaining healthy migratory bird populations for the benefit of the American people.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program in the Mountain-Prairie Region helps conserve, protect, and enhance aquatic resources and provides economically valuable recreational fishing to anglers across the country. The program comprises 12 National Fish Hatcheries.
Law enforcement is essential to virtually every aspect of wildlife conservation. The Office of Law Enforcement contributes to Service efforts to manage ecosystems, save endangered species, conserve migratory birds, preserve wildlife habitat, restore fisheries, combat invasive species, and promote international wildlife conservation.
External Affairs staff in the Mountain-Prairie Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides support to the regional office and field stations to communicate and facilitate information about the Service's programs to the public, media, Congress, Tribes, partners, and other stakeholders in the 8-state region.
White bark pines. Credit: Richard Sniezko, US Forest Service.
Whitebark Pine pinecone. Credit: Richard Sniezko, US Forest Service.
Whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis)
Species description: Whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) is a 5-needled conifer classified as a stone pine which includes five species worldwide.
Stone pines are distinguished by large, dense seeds that lack wings and therefore depend upon birds and squirrels for dispersal across the landscape.
Location: Whitebark pine is typically found in cold, windy, high elevation or high latitude sites in western North America and as a result, many stands are geographically isolated. It is a stress-tolerant pine and its hardiness allows it to grow where other conifer species cannot.
Whitebark pine is considered a keystone species because it regulates runoff by slowing the progress of snowmelt, reduces soil erosion by initiating early succession after fires and other disturbances, and provides seeds that are a high-energy food source for some birds and mammals.
The species is distributed in Coastal Mountain Ranges (from British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, down to east-central California) and Rocky Mountain Ranges (from northern British Columbia and Alberta to Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Nevada).
Whitebark pine is ecologically very significant in maintaining snow pack and regulating runoff, initiating succession after fire or other disturbance events, and providing seeds that are a high-energy food source for many species of wildlife.
July 18, 2011 - The Service has determined the whitebark pine warrants protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), but that adding the species to the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants is precluded by the need to address other listing actions of a higher priority.
The Service will add the whitebark pine to the list of candidate species eligible for ESA protection and review its status annually. If we propose the whitebark pine for listing in the future, the public will have an opportunity to comment. We have assigned the whitebark pine a listing priority number (LPN) of 2, which means we have determined the threats are of high magnitude and are imminent.
Threats to the whitebark pine include habitat loss and mortality from white pine blister rust, mountain pine beetle, catastrophic fire and fire suppression, environmental effects resulting from climate change, and the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms.
Whitebark pine is experiencing an overall long-term pattern of decline, even in areas originally thought to be mostly immune from the above threats. Recent predictions indicate a continuing downward trend within the majority of its range. While individual trees may persist, given current trends the Service anticipates whitebark pine forests will likely become extirpated and their ecosystem functions will be lost in the foreseeable future. On a landscape scale, the species appears to be in danger of extinction, potentially within as few as two to three generations. The generation time of whitebark pine is approximately 60 years.