CHELAN — The Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest wants to replant a few hundred acres of high elevation forest with whitebark pine seedlings on the Chelan, Methow Valley and Tonasket ranger districts this fall.
Whitebark pine populations are declining across the Western U.S. They warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act, but are managed as a sensitive species due to the need to address more high priority listings, a news release from the U.S. Forest Service said.
Locally, the 2004 Pot Peak Fire and the 2006 Tripod Fire burned many of the trees, and whitepine blister rust and mountain pine beetle killed trees in other areas. About 21 trees were topped or cut down by owners of a helicopter skiing company in clearing helicopter ski landing sites, for which the company received a non-compliance notice last year.
The agency is asking the public to comment on its proposal to replant the sensitive trees on four locations where natural regeneration has been a problem.
Those areas to be replanted include 92 acres near Junior Point and 216 acres between Crescent Hill and Angle Peak on the Chelan Ranger District, 136 acres near Thunder Mountain on the Tonasket Ranger District, and 1-2 acres near Silver Star Mountain on the Methow Valley Ranger district, where the trees were cut.
The Forest Service has collected seed from whitebark pine trees that had a low incidence of blister rust.
Other vegetation would be removed from the planting spots, and whitebark pines would be planted by hand, using a hoe.
Comments are sought within 30 days to Eireann Pederson, Chelan-Tonasket Whitebark Pine Reforestation Team Leader, Chelan Ranger District, 428 W. Woodin Ave., Chelan, WA 98816, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. More information is available from Pederson at 682-4900.