A Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine (Pinus aristata) can live up to 2,500 years at altitudes up to 13,000 feet. Although some have endured over two millennia straddling life and death along timberline, these trees now face several threats that collectively could inflict a disastrous toll.
Research and conservation efforts are underway. They are collecting and preserving viable seeds, growing seedlings in a laboratory setting and inoculating them with one of the three destructive forces currently at work against the Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine—the non-native White Pine Blister Rust. An outbreak of bark beetle and climate change are the other two forces combining in the assault.
The trees themselves are beautiful, awe-inspiring and photogenic. Their story, and current threat makes this an important and interesting story to tell.