Updated at: 06/25/2014 1:21 PM
(AP) ANCHORAGE, Alaska - ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) â€” Four conservation groups are petitioning to list an iconic Alaska tree as threatened or endangered because of climate change.
The groups Tuesday petitioned to protect yellow cedar, which for centuries has been used by Tlingit (TLING'-git), Haida (HI'-dah) and Tsimshian (SHIM'-she-an) people for canoe paddles, totem poles, baskets and backing in blankets.
Yellow cedar is found from southeast Alaska to Northern California.
The trees can live more than 1,000 years but their shallow roots are vulnerable to freezing if soil is not insulated by snow.
U.S. Forest Service researchers in 2012 published a paper that said climate warming has meant less snow, leaving yellow cedar roots vulnerable.
Kiersten Lippmann of the Center for Biological Diversity says more than 70 percent of yellow cedar trees have died in areas of Alaska.
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