White pine blister rust (WPBR) has long been an important element of North American forest management. Even so, little consideration has been given to its potential ecological and resource impacts in the Central Rocky Mountains and Intermountain West. Limber and bristlecone pines, along with whitebark pine in northwestern Wyoming, are the central Rocky Mountain white pines susceptible to white pine blister rust. These species generally exist as minor components in mixed species stands, or in harsh, dry sites ranging from grasslands to timberline. In Colorado and Wyoming, limber pine occurs as a dominant in the limber pine forest cover type and as a component of Engelmann spruce-subalpine fir, whitebark pine, bristlecone pine, interior Douglas-fir, aspen, lodgepole pine, and interior ponderosa pine forest cover types. In contrast to the highly commercially-valued, once common, eastern and western white pine and sugar pine, the Central Rocky white pines are relatively scarce, slow growing, and located in less accessible areas outside of timber production zones. The historic lack of a need to understand these species for timber management purposes limited their study until fairly recently. Thus, ecological information about these species and the sites they occupy is still meager. Efforts to better understand limber pine ecology will be vital in determining the future of limber pine-WPBR interactions and the resource impacts that may result.
The objectives of this project were to determine the availability of limber pine datasets and information sources for use in white pine blister rust hazard rating and impact analyses, future survey designs, and ecological studies; to document available data sets, including geographical coverage, data elements, and time period covered; and to assemble relevant field study citations.