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Tonto National Forest nears end of seed planting project to defend against parasitic mistletoe

Tonto pine seed planting
USDA Forest Service/Dena Forrer
A crew member prepares to plant a southwestern white pine seedling with in the Colcord Campground

The Tonto National Forest is in the final phase of a project to plant 500 southwestern white pine seedlings on the Pleasant Valley Ranger District.

The U.S. Forest Service says the 25-acre project is part of a management plan to treat dwarf mistletoe, a parasitic plant native to western forests. It’s been infecting ponderosa pine trees within the Colcord Campground area.

A survey found 150 ponderosas with light to moderate infection and another 350 with severe infection.

Dwarf mistletoe survives only on living trees by taking water and nutrients from them, often leading to tree death. Newly planted southwestern white pines aren’t susceptible to the mistletoe infection.