Yes, here I am at a scenic point at Scenic Point in Two Medicine. And what were the rangers doing? KP, you guessed it! They were working on saving the Whitebark Pine, a tree in Glacier in danger of extinction.
When we hear of endangered species, lets be honest, a lot of us can think of animals in that category, but not a lot of us can call to mind any plants. Whitebark pine is a species threatened mostly by blister rust, a tree disease, if you will. So what if the world has one less plant? For two species, devastating. Clark's Nutcrackers depend on their pine seeds. So do grizzly bears. The extinction of whitebark pine can spell doom for those two animals already under threatened conditions.
The Revegatation Crew we encountered were "caging" the cones of the whitebark pines. The idea is to put screens on the cones of healthy whitebark pines to keep the squirrels and birds off of them. The seeds of the cones are then harvested in the fall and raised at Glacier's Native Plant Nursery. The seedlings can then be replanted in a few years.
So next time you take a walk in the Park, notice the plants. Love them, embrace them. They are the life sustaining force of Glacier. And remember, they also are the shade you crave in the hot summer sun!