ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says an iconic Alaska tree may warrant protection as threatened or endangered because of climate change.
The agency announce Thursday it will consider protections for yellow cedar, a tree revered by Tlingit (TLING'-kit), Haida (HEYE'-dah) and Tsimshian (SIM'-she-an) cultures and used for totem poles, canoe paddles and weaved blankets and hats.
Yellow cedar can live more than 1,000 years but their shallow roots are vulnerable to freezing.
In a 2012 paper, U.S. Forest Service researchers concluded that climate warming has meant less snow and less insulation for the ground.
Elevated mortality peaked in the 1970s and 1980s. Across 781 square miles of Alaska's Panhandle, more than 70 percent of yellow cedar trees died because of root freeze.