Status of Whitebark Pine in Crater Lake National Park, Oregon, 2000
In the short-term, the Park’s whitebark pine populations appear to be only gradually declining and do not correspond to steeper downtrends elsewhere in the Cascade region. However, populations in the Park are under a significant long-term threat due to several factors. First, as illustrated, whitebark pine may have already decreased by 26 percent with an additional loss of 20 percent by the year 2050. Second, global warming probably favors conditions for survival and spread of the blister rust fungus and increases competition with mountain hemlock, lodgepole pine and shasta fir – further stressing whitebark pine. Third, whitebark pine does not mature and produce seeds until the age of 20-50 years. Therefore, any management scenarios must consider a time lag resulting in population bottlenecks before pine numbers can rebound.
Based on our findings, we outline the following actions aimed at maintaining whitebark pine populations in the Park.