As the mountain snow melts, it is time to share with you some exciting conservation news about our local ski area, Schweitzer Mountain Resort.
The Resort is looking to permanently protect 5,800 acres. This includes all ski-able terrain, productive timberland and provides habitat for bear, moose, and more. It also hosts a stand of threatened whitebark pine, which has suffered significant decline due to the white pine blight.
What does this mean? The Resort is working on an application that will provide funding to purchase a conservation easement agreement. The agreement will allow continued ski area operations, and even future expansion. It will also permit continued timber harvesting, which provides jobs and important revenues to our community.
KLT is currently assisting Schweitzer on the application. If approved, another two years will be needed to complete the project.
The funding will be used by the Resort to make infrastructure improvements to this top-notch ski area. They are looking to make enhancements that will make Schweitzer an even better ski area for locals and tourists.
Also included in the application is Resort-owned land that is in the city of Sandpoint’s watershed. Protection of this land has long been a priority for the city, as it protects a reliable source of drinking water.
We have unanimous, verbal approval from the Bonner County Commissioners as well as endorsements from many other conservation, industry and economic development groups. The amount and diversity of supporters speaks to the innovativeness of this project and its significant community benefits.
This Tuesday, May 16th, 9:00 AM SMR will be making a presentation to the Bonner County Commissioners. This is an open meeting, so please come attend if you want to know more details. Likewise, I can be reached at the phone number below should you have any questions.
I want to thank all of KLT’s loyal supporters for helping to make this happen. Your support has provided the resources necessary to make a project like this possible.
Most importantly, I want to thank the Schweitzer management and owners. Their dedication and commitment to keep this land undeveloped and open to year-round recreationalists is a testament to their commitment to our community and has far-reaching benefits to wildlife habitat, the local economy, and overall quality of life.
I look forward to a successful application. Please feel free to call on me if you have any questions.
With warm regards,
Whitebark pine occurs in high-elevation cold conditions in both the northern and southern parts of the state. Ecologically, whitebark pine is important: its seeds are a valued wildlife food for birds, squirrels, black and grizzly bears. Whitebark pine also is important in reducing avalanche potential and soil erosion. It is the only tree species that will grow in some locations.
Whitebark pine, like western white pine, is a five-needle, white pine that is very susceptible to the introduced white pine blister rust disease. In the Northern province, the impact of the rust has been very significant, but variable in the amount of mortality in the Middle and Southern Rockies. The rust is still expanding in the south, however, and significant future damage is expected, although the rate of infection is slower because the environment for the spread of the rust is not as conducive as in the north.
Stands have also declined as a result of fire suppression efforts and mountain pine beetle attacks, which has allowed subalpine fir and Engelmann spruce to increase on many sites with the whitebark pine. These species can continue to grow in the shade of other trees, but the whitebark pine does not tolerate as much shade and over time is replaced.
Read more about the significance of preserving the Whitebark Pine at Schweitzer Mountain Resort: http://www.idahoforests.org/whitebark.htm