As you ride the Scenic Lift (a.k.a. Chair 1) you may notice something strange on a trees. At the bottom of Ptarmigan Bowl just before you reach tower 17 look to your right as you ride up (left on the way down). On the uphill side of the Freebird bike trail you’ll see a few trees with something that sort of looks like plastic baggies on the ends of their branches.
Those “baggies” are actually metal cages used to capture seeds for a vegetation management project that will help restore the whitebark pine. The whitebark pine is a keystone species—more than 110 species use their seeds—including the grizzly bear! The trees are threatened by a fungus that was introduced to the forest over a century ago called blister rust. This fungus weakens the trees and reduces cone production so that they eventually die and are in danger of becoming extinct.
Here at Whitefish Mountain Resort, mountain silviculturists (the fancy title for the people who take care of our forests) from the Flathead National Forest are capturing the seedlings of the healthy whitebark pine so that they can plant them in other regions of the forest so that they can regenerate. We have been helping the Forest Service take care of the whitebark pine and are proud to announce that Whitefish Mountain Resort is the first ski resort in the country to be named a “Whitebark Pine Friendly Ski Area.” You can learn more first hand by visiting the Summit Nature Center on the lower level of the Summit House.