THREATS               v Discovery v Geography v Environment v Structure v Longevity v Science v Inspiration v
Inhabited at the upper tree-line, Great Basin Bristlecone Pine population is important for stabilizing steep and exposed mountain slopes. Their stands is a barrier for avalanches and reduces blow away of both snow and sand of clastic rock, and surface erosion during the melt period. That way they provide water flow to lower plants. High elevation trees are a source of food and shelter for birds and small mammals not to mention their ineffable and subtle beauty.

Bristlecone pine provides a shelter and food to Uinta Chipmunk (Eutamias umbrinus inyoensis). (R.V. Byenes)

Great Basin Bristlecone Pine currently becomes endangered species. High altitudes, chill, aridity, strong winds, lightning strikes, erosion, radiation, alkaline substrate are harsh, but natural conditions that the tree has adopted and proved it easily withstands all that. Ironically, the only threat Bristlecone Pine faces nowadays is us: human beings. Reckless human activity has a negative influence on global warming what crashes the natural balance. Erosion, bark beetles and other pests rarely happened earlier now spread among Bristlecone Pines. The species began to change its growing habits.
"Scientists are the first to say that there are many unknown factors involved in the study of global climate change. Products of nature such as ice cores, coral reefs, ocean and lake sediments, and trees can offer valuable clues about changing climates in the ancient past. Modern instruments like satellites can provide knowledge about current activities affecting the earth's land, oceans, and atmosphere. Assembling the pieces of this global environmental puzzle is the focus of scientists and researchers all over the world. They know for sure that the earth is warming—and using the many tools available to them, it is their mission to find out why." (Reference)
Bristlecone pines live only in a few spots in the mountains of the American West and Southwest. As temperatures rise the species starts to migrate uphill. The problem is that they usually grow on the tops of ridges and mountains. It means in many places they have no place where to migrate or the substrate does not meet their natural habits. Thus the species is condemned. Watch short movie or look at predicted response of Pinus longaeva to increasing temperatures in the White Mountains, CA.  (Reference: American Meteorological Society). The latter, however, brings some controversy. Dead Bristlecone Pines exist above today's timberline in some locations. It should mean that the climate was warmer at some period in the past. Also there is evidence Bristlecone Pines occupied valleys and the lower slopes throughout the Great Basin and climbed higher along with the passing away ice age caused by warming climate. Sometimes very simple things have a vast impact on science. But only science can explain unknown if it's available to us, the mortal ones.

This is a Bristlecone pine deadwood exposed to the elements and badly damaged by a small-sharp rock chips. A few chips left embedded into the wood. (R.V. Byenes)

Nevertheless, the most of absurdity consists in our mentality particularly highlighted by idiosyncratic and controversial figures:
   ◦ "Its (Methuselah's, the oldest living Bristlecone Pine) precise location is known to just a few -- a necessary protection against souvenir hunters and tourists with penknives, the U.S. Forest Service says." (Reference)
   ◦ "Today the tree's greatest threat isn't its brutal living conditions--it's vandalism. So the Methuselah remains unmarked to discourage potential saboteurs." (Reference)
Methuselah is not the only Bristlecone which actual position is not revealed. Sadly, vandalism is the brutal act and there is no better known way to protect the trees. According to Tom Harlan, the prominent researcher, anonymity is their absolute best defense.
Unfortunately, some people also cause damage to Bristlecone Pines without malicious intention but for lack of comprehension. These astounding ancients are now protected on all federal lands.
"Do you have magic in you? You bet. Magic is that little genetic genius that has been evolving for three billion years: It connects us all to each other and to everything that has come before and still lives on the planet. That is some magic, and it was formed in wilderness.

Let us begin. Let us restore the Earth. Let the mountains talk, and the rivers run. Once more, and forever." - David Brower (Let the Mountains Talk, Let the Rivers Run) (Reference)

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