The Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation of Canada has certified Panorama Mountain Resort as a Whitebark Pine Friendly Ski Area, the first resort in Canada to receive this designation. The certification recognizes the resort's long and continued efforts to support the recovery of whitebark pine within its ski area boundary, a threatened tree species that plays a critical role in the biodiversity of mountain ecosystems.
“Panorama has been supporting whitebark pine recovery initiatives for almost 30 years, and we’re incredibly proud to be the first Canadian lift-accessed resort recognized as a Whitebark Pine Friendly Ski Area,” said Steve Paccagnan, President & CEO of Panorama Mountain Resort.
“Whether you’re skiing Taynton Bowl or taking in the views from the summit, the whitebark pine is an icon of our alpine area. Our support of the Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation and the vital work they do, will ensure this important tree continues to grace our mountains for generations to come.”
Found across the subalpine of interior BC, Alberta and parts of the U.S, this slow growing, five needle pine is an integral part of an ecosystem that many other species depend on for survival. The tree’s cones hold some of the most nutritious seeds in the mountains and sustain Grizzly bears and birds, including the Clark’s nutcracker which has a unique symbiotic relationship with the tree. The deep and widespread roots of the whitebark pine contribute to the health of watersheds by stabilizing alpine slopes and regulating snowpack run-off.
Over the past decade, whitebark pine numbers have fallen dramatically due in large part to a non-native fungal disease known as white pine blister rust that has been infecting and killing the trees at an alarming rate. Since 2012, the whitebark pine has been listed as endangered under the Government of Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), and was recently added to the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service’s threatened species list.
Panorama Mountain Resort has collaborated with the Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation of Canada to facilitate restoration projects including cone collection and tree plantings within the resort’s ski area.
“Panorama Mountain Resort has been a leader among ski areas in collaborating on whitebark pine recovery efforts; their participation is greatly appreciated and does not go unnoticed,” said Randy Moody an ecologist and President of the Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation of Canada.
“Over many years the resort has supported cone collections, seedling planting, hosted numerous workshops for professionals, and created outreach opportunities for their guests. Ski areas form an important linkage with the public, as they are the location where most people will see a whitebark pine and the associated decline of whitebark pine ecosystems. We hope Panorama’s certification as a ‘Whitebark Pine Friendly Ski Area’ will serve as a model for other ski areas.”
In 2021, 5000 whitebark pine seedlings were planted in a permanently closed area within Panorama’s ski boundary known as Canadian Bowl. Plantings like this are the future of whitebark pine. The project was made possible by funding from the BC Government’s Forest Carbon Initiative. Mature trees are also screened for resistance to the white pine blister rust. So far, at least one tree has been found at Panorama.
Panorama joins Sorcerer Lodge as the only other Canadian ski area to have obtained certification so far. Sorcerer Lodge is a helicopter only accessed backcountry lodge located in the Selkirk Mountains.
More information about whitebark pine and the Whitebark Pine Friendly Ski Area certification program can be found at whitebarkpine.ca.