There is a unique population of whitebark pine (WBP) trees on Copper Butte that is resistant to blister rust fungus and has killed entire populations of WBP in the Rocky Mountains. WBP is a high elevation, shade-intolerant species but due to natural wildfire exclusion it is being overtopped by competing tree species and is declining. We will thin sub-alpine fir and other competing species from the area to allow existing populations of whitebark pine to survive and produce nutritious seed cones that are an important food source for Clark’s nutcrackers, red squirrels, grizzly and black bears and other species. Volunteers will get to enjoy camping and hiking at the third highest peak in the Colville National Forest with nice views and wildflowers. Volunteers can earn service hours, learn about plant restoration, and experience the opportunity to assist the U.S. Forest Service restore WBP, The Lands Council, and Kettle Range Conservation Group in an effort to preserve the endangered whitebark pine, support animal species that depend on WBP trees for food & shelter and defend against climate change.
Volunteer teams will hike to camp, set up on the south side of Copper Butte, and spend the day hauling tree branches & trunks (that will be already cut into manageable pieces) to piles to be control- burned at a later date. Food will be provided and transportation can be arranged. You will be provided safety gear, hard hat, gloves, and safety goggles. A complete kitchen will be set up and left in place during the entire project.
The restoration will begin as soon as snow-melt and weather permits, likely mid-June and continue through October depending on weather. We will not work in extremely hot conditions or storms. Base camp will be set up for extended periods through the week and weekend. A minimum of 2 days, 1 night is required with crews between 4 - 10 people. Volunteers should prepare as they would for a backpacking trip with the possibility of varying weather conditions. Expect to be hiking on moderate to steep terrain, dragging tree limbs and pieces for up to 6 hours with several breaks.
Volunteers need to bring a pack between 45 and 60 liters with a tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, mess kit, at least 3L of water, and other personal items as well as useful essentials including compass, first aid kit, headlamp, and whistle.