Ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Helping Elk One Stand of Aspens at a Time

What’s the big deal with elk and aspen? Aspen stands are arguably the best habitat for elk. Aspen provide a productive underlying layer of forage or vegetation. Oak brush habitat is often found near aspen stands and also provides thick vegetation and cover. 

One of the best ways to ensure the future of elk is to look after elk habitat. That was exactly the focus of a recent Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation habitat project in west-central Montana.

Before the project
The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks originally recommended removing conifers from aspen stands in the Beaverhead-Deer Lodge National Forest in 2006. The Dillon Ranger District's fire and weed crews revved up their chainsaws to remove colonizing conifers in eight different units in a total of 150 acres in aspen stands. They looked out for the future by girdling and leaving trees between 18 and 20 inches in diameter for snag retention. They also left larger scattered, older trees 20 inches and above in diameter to contribute to provide structure for wildlife. 

After the project
On top of that, crews treated 80 acres of noxious weeds along roads and two track trails, known infestations, riparian areas and conifer treatment units in both 2011 and again in 2012. What’s the bottom line? Improved forage and improved habitat for elk, deer, and moose and other critters.

RMEF contributed $11,370 in funds to help pay for the project.

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