The Idaho Panhandle National Forests Nursery in Coeur d’Alene produces more whitebark pine seedlings than any other facility in the country.
Throughout the Rocky Mountain region, whitebark pine trees grow in the highest elevation forests and at timberline from Alberta to Wyoming. The seeds provide critical food for Clark’s nutcrackers and grizzly bears.
In the course of one season, the Coeur d’Alene nursery produces 300,000 whitebark pine seedlings, largely sown by Yvonne Holman. In a warm greenhouse under a gray April sky, Holman estimated she had already sown 200,000 seeds by hand.
In late winter, nursery workers begin the process of stratification, warming seeds to room temperature and soaking them in running water for 48 hours. Most species then sit in a cold, moist environment for 28 days.