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The Lodgepole Project

Steven DeWitt | United States

Organization: Steven DeWitt Photography

This is a Rocky Mountain Lodgepole Pine tree - Pinus contorta subspecies latifolia. Pinus contora is one of the oldest native species in North America and are Foundational Species in forest ecosystems. Their native range is from the Alaskan interior and Canada’s Northwest Territories east to Saskatchewan and the Black Hills of South Dakota, and south to Colorado, central Utah, and eastern Oregon. Rocky Mountain lodgepoles grow between 45 to 150 feet tall with diameters often exceeding 30 inches.

The Lodgepole Project

For more than a decade, conservation photographer Steven DeWitt has documented the historic destruction of North America’s Rocky Mountain lodgepole pine forests and the human response to the forest loss.

Over the past 20 years, millions of acres of lodgepole pine forests have been destroyed by an unprecedented infestation of native mountain pine beetles, creating cascading impacts to forest biodiversity. Human generated climate change was the trigger, amplifying the natural cycle and starting a chain reaction to one of the greatest deforestation events in millennia.

The mass die-off of a Foundational species is alarming. So is the sudden release of centuries of stored carbon dioxide back into our atmosphere. This historic drought paired with an enormous increase in forest fuel loads dramatically increases the risk for mega-firestorms that sterilize the top 12 inches of forest soil that has taken millennia to create, making forest regeneration extremely challenging.

The mission of The Lodgepole Project is present the visual truth and inspire citizens to demand bold action against climate change. Learn more at stevendewitt.com.

In partnership with: The Union of Concerned Scientists

Aerial support: LightHawk

Steven DeWitt is a freelance conservation photographer based in New York City. His work is being used to help promote US Senator Michael Bennet and US Representative Jared Polis’s Continental Divide, Wilderness and Camp Hale Legacy Act introduced to Congress January 2018. His imagery helps persuade state and federal policy makers to implement sustainable solutions to combat the impacts of climate change on our forests for The Union of Concerned Scientists’ Forest Health Report “Rocky Mountain Forests at Risk” and is being used to influence stakeholders to support watershed and riparian restoration efforts for a major upper tributary of the Colorado River with the National Forest Foundation. His work has been featured in numerous conservation and adventure campaigns and publications including The Pew Charitable Trusts, United States Forest Service, American Rivers, The Wilderness Society, Sierra Magazine, Earth Island Journal, Outside Magazine, 5280 Magazine, The Drake Magazine, SKI Magazine, Golden Ride Magazine, Western Rise, Native Eyewear, Mountainsmith, Teva, GoPro and Vail Resorts.


The Union of Concerned Scientists




Twitter: @stevendewittjr

Instagram: @stevendewitt

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