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Pando Ambassador Program

Working to understand, monitor and protect Pando

A Recent Discovery, New Challenges in Stewardship

It may seem hard to believe, but Pando is so large that it hid in plain sight until 1976. The tree was not named “Pando” until 1993 and we did not verify Pando was in fact, a 106-acre tree until 2008, thanks to advances in genetic testing. In these ways and many more, we are just coming to know this tree that re-defines what we think a tree is, or, what a tree can be. It would seem, almost despite the number of headlines this magnificent wonder garners each year. 

Today, we face three major challenges if we are to protect Pando for generations to come. First, we need to sustain protective measures like fencing, which has been used since 1992 to keep out deer and elk who can eat away at the tree faster than it can recover. Second, we know very little of the intimate relationship between the tree and the land, for example, erosion, weather patterns and animal migrations within the tree – work that can be done with a dedicated agent and passive monitoring systems.  Finally, as Pando lives on land designated for recreation and has been used as such for at least 1,500 years, we understand very little about the kinds of experiences people have or, want to have in the tree which we could use to inform or adapt policies we have seen be successful with other special trees. In all, if we are to understand and protect the tree, this work, is not work that can be done “here and there”, in one little spot, or for one year, but must be done consistently and diligently for years to come. 

pando branch on downed fence
Today, nearly 10,000 foot of fencing must be maintained to keep out animals that eat away at the tree faster than it can recover
image of deer and her fawns walking pando
Fencing has been used since 1992 to keep out deer to protect the tree
image of disease in pando tree
Pando is suffers diseases common to aspen, but we need to learn more

Helping Hands

In 2022, Friends of Pando is launching the Pando Ambassador Program, a program inspired by our conversations with people who have worked to understand and protect Pando since its discovery. A long-term boots on the ground operation to sustain protective measures, monitor the tree and document its changes year-round. Working with Snow College, The Forest Service and other local volunteers, the Pando Ambassador:

 

1. Walks the nearly 10,000 feet of fencing used to protect Pando weekly to document needed minor repairs, restoration work or fortification work.

 

2. Supports the work of Fishlake National Forest and coordinates with local contractor to repair and replace damaged fencing.

 

3. Installs and monitors passive trail gate monitors to better understand recreational usage.

 

4. Installs and monitors ambient wildlife recorders in remote sections of the tree to understand animal behavior and migrations in an around Pando

 

In all, the Pando Ambassador program is the first step toward active monitoring.  Work we believe, it vital to ensure this wonder is understood and protected so it can be enjoyed for generations to come.

© 2022  | Design : Hope Smith  &  Lance Oditt