The objective of this study was to examine the effect of a magnesium chloride spray application on pine seedlings. Magnesium chloride is used statewide in Colorado as a soil stabilizer on dirt roads and a de-icing agent for roadways in winter. Magnesium chloride is replacing sodium chloride in these uses because of the reduced corrosive effects. However, little is known about the ecological effects of magnesium chloride on roadside vegetation. In a controlled greenhouse experiment, we examined the effect of three concentrations of reagent-grade magnesium chloride (0.74M, 1.48M, and 2.22M) and one concentration (1.48M) of the commercially available magnesium chloride (DustgardŽ) on 1.25 years-old Pinus contorta seedlings. Chlorophyll content, shoot biomass, needle biomass, and length of new needles were measured over a 60-day period. The biomass of needles and length of new needles were significantly reduced compared to the control. Aerial drift of magnesium chloride on roadside vegetation had an advance impact on pine health and vigor.

Key words: Pinus contorta, de-icing agents, lodgepole pine, magnesium chloride, seedling growth, soil stabilizers