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Mountain News: Aspen expects 5-15% decline

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Whitebark pine at risk to bark beetles

WEST YELLOWSTONE, Mont. – As is the case with the lodgepole pine in Colorado, the whitebark pine of more northerly latitudes is having problems. Some 20 per cent of the trees in Yellowstone National Park and adjacent regions are infected with blister rust, which can make them vulnerable to mountain pine beetles. The warming climate is also making them more vulnerable, researchers said at a recent conference attended by the Jackson Hole News & Guide. Bob Keane, a Forest Service research ecologist, said he believes the stands of whitebark pine can be restored, but wildfires must be allowed more often. “We’re going to have to let some of these controversial fires burn if they’re going to save whitebark pine,” he said. “If we did nothing, whitebark pine would disappear off the landscape.”