Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation of Canada names Executive Director and Seed Orchard Coordinator
Premier appointees to meet growing interest in subalpine and montane species at risk
KIMBERLEY, BC December 21, 2020 – The Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation of Canada (WPEF-C) is pleased to announce the appointment of Barb Gass as Executive Director and Kiah Allen as Seed Orchard Coordinator.
These two appointments help escalate the recovery of endangered whitebark and limber pine ecosystems. Whitebark and limber pine are keystone species that are of serious conservation concern. They stabilize soils, moderate snowmelt, and provide critical habitat to species such as grizzlies, birds, and squirrels. Unfortunately, they are in a precarious position primarily due to a disease called white pine blister rust which is caused by an introduced pathogen. With an Executive Director and Seed Orchard Coordinator in place, WPEF-C is poised to lead the charge on maintaining the integrity of these unique ecosystems.
Board member Adrian Leslie says, “This feels like a huge step at the right time and in the right direction.”
Based in Vancouver, Barb has worked with whitebark and limber pine for the past seven years. She initiated a collaborative restoration planting in the Castle Wilderness and contributed to an international limber pine provenance trial. Prior to her ecological stewardship work, Barb had a career in marketing. She holds an M.Sc. in Botany from UBC.
Kiah is a Registered Biologist in Training with a background in ecosystem restoration and an interest in the conservation of subalpine and Northern forest ecosystems. She completed her M.Sc. in Forestry at UBC studying a hybrid rust pathogen on whitebark pine, and she’s been passionate about working with this species ever since.
The Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation of Canada (WPEF-C) is devoted to the conservation and stewardship of endangered whitebark and limber pine ecosystems. Founded in 2009, over the past decade, WPEF-C has been instrumental in the formation of working groups that promote recovery work, engage multiple stakeholders, support research, and conduct educational programs. Collaborating with government, industry, and non-profits, the foundation is coordinating the establishment of seed orchards. These will produce seed resistant to the invasive fungal pathogen, Cronartium ribicola, which causes white pine blister rust and devastates all populations of native white pines, especially whitebark and limber pine. WPEF-C has strong links to its parent organization, the Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation based out of Missoula, Montana.