This forest type is characterized by a more open woodland structure. In Colorado, this forest type is best represented at elevations above ponderosa pine ecosystems in dry, rocky environments.
Main tree species are limber pine and bristlecone pine, although juniper may be mixed in the stands. At higher elevations species such as Englemann spruce and sub-alpine fir dominate in an open distribution. This forest type is variable regarding fire dependency due to sparse, rocky settings with limited fuels and tree density.
Species dependent on this forest type include small mammals and birds, especially Clark’s nutcracker, which depends on the pine seeds for food.