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Partnership to conserve mountaintop ecosystems

Date: August 19, 2015

U.S. Forest Service & National Park Service partner for conservation


Interagency collaboration between the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service is building a science foundation to aid in the development of conservation strategies for high elevation five-needle pine ecosystems in Rocky Mountain, Great Basin, Great Sand Dunes, and Crater Lake National Parks (Schoettle et al. 2013). 

Due to the current impacts or threat of impacts from white pine blister rust, mountain pine beetle, and climate change, each of these parks considers their five-needle pine species of conservation concern. Scientific knowledge reduces the uncertainty in projecting outcomes of interventions or inactivity and improves trade-off analyses as managers assess their options; it can also feed into economic analyses and be used to inform the public. 

Depending on the intensity of impact, efforts are focused on (1) restoration activities in declining landscapes and/or (2) proactive interventions, developed by Dr. Anna W. Schoettle (RMRS), in threatened ecosystems to mitigate future impacts. Restoration treatments can slow impacts and rebuild impacted populations and proactive interventions can help prepare the landscape for invasion to mitigate the severity of future impacts. Rocky Mountain, Great Basin, and Great Sand Dunes National Parks are currently following the proactive approach and Crater Lake National Park the restoration approach.

The goal of both approaches is to conserve the species and promote self-sustaining five-needle pine ecosystems in the presence of white pine blister rust using available tools and methods that are compatible with land use designations. These interagency programs include sampling frameworks, in situ and ex situ gene conservation, demographic, regeneration, and forest health assessments, developing rust resistant populations, and restoration plantings and trials.

National Park Service (Scott Esser) and USDA Forest Service (Jen Klutsch) employees collecting limber pine seed cones in Rocky Mountain National Park for rust resistance testing and gene conservation.
National Park Service (Scott Esser) and U.S. Forest Service (Jen Klutsch) employees collecting limber pine seed cones in Rocky Mountain National Park for rust resistance testing and gene conservation. Photo credit: Anna Schoettle

USDA Forest Service employee (Betsy Goodrich, in vest) training National Park Service employees and volunteers to select limber pine trees for sampling and conservation in Rocky Mountain National Park.
U.S. Forest Service employee (Betsy Goodrich, in vest) training National Park Service employees and volunteers to select limber pine trees for sampling and conservation in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo Credit: Anna Schoettle

Featured Publications

Schoettle, Anna W. ; Connor, J. ; Mack, J. ; Pineda Bovin, P. ; Beck, J. ; Baker, G. M. ; Sniezko, R. A. ; Burns, K. S. , 2013


Principal Investigators: 
Forest Service Partners: 
Richard Sniezko, Pacific Northwest Region
Kelly S. Burns, Rocky Mountain Region
External Partners: 
Jeff Connor and John Mack, Rocky Mountain National Park
Phyllis Pineda Bovin, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
Jen Beck, Crater Lake National Park
Gretchen Baker, Great Basin National Park
Research Location: 
western United States