The Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation of Canada (WPEF-C) has announced the appointment of Barb Gass to the position of Executive Director and Kiah Allen as Seed Orchard Coordinator.
According to a WPEF-C press release, these new appointments will aid the organization in their pursuit of recovering the endangered whitebark and limber pine ecosystems. Both trees are considered keystone species that face serious conservation concerns.
The trees stabilize soils, moderate snowmelt and provide habitats crucial to species such as grizzly bears, birds and squirrels.
One of the main threats to these trees is a disease known as white pine blister rust, which is caused by an introduced pathogen.
The organization said that these new positions help them to lead the charge on maintaining the integrity of these unique ecosystems.
“This feels like a huge step at the right time and in the right direction,” said WPEF-C board member Adrian Leslie.
Gass is a resident of Vancouver and has worked with whitebark and limber pine for the past seven years. Her work has seen her initiate a collaborative restoration planting project in the Castle Wilderness.
She also contributed to an international limber pine provenance trial.
Before her work as an ecological steward, Gass worked in marketing. She holds an M.Sc. in Botany from the University of British Columbia.
Allen, a Registered Biologist in Training, has a background in ecosystem restoration and an interest in the conservation of sub-alpine and Norther forest ecosystems.
She achieved an M.Sc. in Forestry from UBC, where she studied a hybrid rust pathogen on whitebark pine and has been passionate about working with the species ever since.