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


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Beautifying Elk Country along Oregon’s Scenic Columbia River

Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
There’s no denying the beauty of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Covering more than 292,000 acres over approximately 80 miles, it runs from the mouth of the Sandy River to the mouth of the Deschutes River and features a changing climate and diverse land features including a rain forest on its west end to more arid grasslands on the east. The Columbia River itself, which constitutes the border between much of southern Washington and northern Oregon, is the only sea-level passageway through the Cascade Mountains.

But as they say, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” If you ever traveled this vast stretch of canyons, waterfalls, forests and prairies, you can’t help but notice the beauty of the changing landscape as you keep your eyes up. For native elk that live along this stretch, their view is becoming more beautiful as they keep their eyes down this spring thanks to a recent habitat enhancement project carried out in part by Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation volunteers from the North Central Oregon Chapter.

The Seven Mile/Rowena Plateau is a beautiful oak, savannah area located on high bluffs overlooking the Columbia River west of The Dalles. It supports a resident elk herd of approximately 70 animals, with 150 elk generally wintering in the area.

RMEF volunteers Ron Harder (left) and Ed Drew
assist with hand-casting of seeding
Crews administer a
prescribed burn

This project, the first for RMEF within the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic area, was a multi-pronged approach to conserving and improving elk habitat. Workers used prescribed burning to treat approximately 100 acres. Sixty of those acres received herbicide and/or seeding treatment. Crew members utilized a range drill for most of the seeding on grassland areas and used hand-casting of native seed in and around areas difficult for a range drill to access. 

In the end, this stretch of the Columbia River Gorge is now a bit more beautiful and bounteous for elk and other wildlife no matter how you look at it.

If you would like to become an RMEF volunteer, go here.

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