Saving trees: Lodge near Glacier National Park honoured for its efforts

Ten years ago, Tannis Dakin noticed the trees surrounding her lodge were beginning to die. (Photo from Parks Canada)
Whitebark pines have a special relationship with the Clark’s nutcracker. The bird uses its specialized beak to open cones, remove seeds and buries them for winter meals. If forgotten, the seed germinates into a sapling. The cones are also food for grizzly bears. (Photo from Parks Canada)
Dakin has owned and operated Sorcerer Lodge, near the northern boundary of Glacier National Park for roughly 30 years. (Photo from Parks Canada)
The whitebark pines surrounding Sorcerer Lodge are thousands of years old and up to two metres across. (Photo from Parks Canada)
Parks Canada stays at Socerer Lodge as they research surrounding whitebark pines. Biologists climb trees which appear to be resistant to the fungus and cage cones, protecting them from the nutcrackers. (Photo from Parks Canada)

Ten years ago, Tannis Dakin noticed the trees surrounding her lodge were beginning to die.

“It’s easy to think of protecting grizzlies and caribou. It’s harder to think about trees,” she said.

Dakin has owned and operated Sorcerer Lodge, near the northern boundary of Glacier National Park for roughly 30 years.

Over the years, she said it’s common for a tree’s health to fluctuate. One year, Dakin thought they were going to lose the surrounding hemlocks, but they bounced back the following season.

“But that isn’t happening with whitebark pines. They are not coming back.”

According to the B.C. government, the tree is endangered.

Ten years ago, Tannis Dakin noticed the trees surrounding her lodge were beginning to die. (Photo from Parks Canada)

Whitebark pines have a special relationship with the Clark’s nutcracker. The bird uses its specialized beak to open cones, remove seeds and bury them for winter meals. If forgotten, the seed germinates into a sapling. The cones are also food for grizzly bears.

The whitebark pines surrounding Sorcerer Lodge are thousands of years old and up to two metres across.

“They’re like citadels,” said Dakin.

According to the B.C. government, the greatest concern for the tree’s survival is from a fungus called white pine blister rust, which is native to China and was accidentally introduced to North America in 1900. Since its spores are transported by the wind, it gets everywhere.

The Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation is a non-profit that promotes the conservation of whitebark pines. On Nov. 21, the organization recognized Sorcerer Lodge as the first whitebark pine friendly ski area in Canada.

READ MORE: Sorcerer Lodge in Golden recognized as first Whitebark Pine Friendly Ski Area in Canada

According to the foundation, the lodge has supported whitebark pine recovery for over a decade by hosting biologists, educating guests, developing maps, recovery projects, and contributing funds to recovery efforts.

Parks Canada have climbed, caged, and harvested 645 whitebark pine cones from 14 trees surrounding Sorcerer Lodge. (Photo from Parks Canada)

Parks Canada stays at Sorcerer Lodge as they research surrounding whitebark pines. Biologists climb trees which appear to be resistant to the fungus and cage its cones, protecting them from the nutcrackers.

READ MORE: From wolverines to whitebark pine – An interview with Parks Canada ecologist Sarah Boyle

“The summer when all the cones were caged, the clarks were very noisy. They weren’t happy,” said Steve Conger, another owner of Sorcerer Lodge.

Afterwards, the cones are sent to a nursery for germination and testing to see if they are resistant. They can later be grafted or planted.

Between 50 to 80 per cent of the whitebark pines surrounding Sorcerer Lodge are infected with blister rust.

Although the tree is endangered, outside the parks there are no laws protecting whitebark pines.

According to the Ministry of Forests, since the tree occurs mostly above harvestable logging stands, there is no need to place restrictions on logging whitebark pine.

Regardless, the province said it’s working on a recovery plan.

Other threats to whitebark pine include mountain pine beetle, fire and climate change.

In 2018, Lake Louise Ski Resort was fined $2.1 million for recklessly cutting down the endangered tree. The Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation said the ski resort has approached the foundation, interested in also becoming a whitebark pine friendly ski area.

READ MORE: Admitted to taking down endangered trees: Lake Louise ski resort to be sentenced

According to the B.C. government, the greatest concern for the tree’s survival is from a fungus called white pine blister rust, which is native to China and was accidentally introduced to North America in 1900. Since its spores are transported by the wind, it gets everywhere. Since fungus also attracts rodents, which further weaken the tree. (Photo from Parks Canada)

The foundation said ski resorts play a vital role in whitebark pine recovery as they provide access for people to whitebark pine habitat, since it’s a high elevation tree.

Dakin said it’s our duty to protect whitebark pine.

“We brought this on them. It’s a human-introduced problem.”

However, whitebark pine grows extremely slow.

“If you plant one whitebark pine, it won’t be old enough to have seedlings before you die.”

Restoration will take time.


 

@pointypeak701
liam.harrap@revelstokereview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Coalmont woman airlifted after ATV crash

Off-road vehicle swerved to miss oncoming traffic

Summerland campground to provide COVID-safe accommodations for temporary farm-workers

The managed seasonal worker campsite will be located within a separated area of Peach Orchard Municipal Campground

QUIZ: A celebration of dogs

These are the dog days of summer. How much do you know about dogs?

Princeton high school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

Bench plaque recognizes former Summerland firefighter

Volunteers with fire department set up plaque in honour of Richard Estabrooks

B.C. accommodators need phone lines to light up as in-province travel given green light

Travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic have decimated the tourism and hospitality industries

B.C. extends income assistance exemption for COVID-19

Provincial program to match Ottawa’s CERB, student pay

Shuswap business duo broaden downtown beach vibe

Jody Boychuk and Eddy Johnston enjoying bigger, brighter Sicamous location

Broadway veteran Nick Cordero dies from coronavirus complications

During Cordero’s hospitalization, Kloots sent him daily videos of her and their 1-year-old son, Elvis,

Northern communities welcome tourists as province opens to in-B.C. travellers

Officials have asked British Columbians to be careful as they travel this summer

Milestone RCMP Cops For Kids fundraiser ride going virtual

You can join and help RCMP raise funds for families and possibly win 20th anniversary cycling shirt

300 Cache Creek residents on evacuation alert due to flood risk as river rises

Heavy rainfall on Canada Day has river rising steadily, threatening 175 properties

Most Read