This past week I had the opportunity to go out into the field and sample my Whitebark Pine plots. The sites were ones I identified using ArcMap as having a high probability of Whitebark Pine populations. I used different slope, soil, elevation, and vegetation information to derive areas of interest, then randomly designated 50×50 meter plots within those areas. Whitebark Pine is found in subalpine and alpine elevations, mostly in rockier soil types, which meant that the majority of my plots were surrounding Lassen Peak. When I went out to my first plot I was excited to see that there was indeed Whitebark Pine populations growing! They were also present at the second and third sites I visited—score!
It was a relief to see that I correctly identified populous areas. I was mainly excited, however, to be applying skills learned during my time in college to real-world issues. Through the first few plots that I sampled I was able to gather information about white pine blister rust and its distribution throughout the park. I can only wait to see what I else I will discover by the end of the season.