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

Monday, May 11, 2015

Help on the Way for Elk Habitat, Research in Washington

Below is a complete listing of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s 2015 grants for the state of Washington. Find more information here.

Asotin County—As a part of Asotin County’s proactive weed control, treat 225 acres of invasive weed populations across public and private land before they become established; and apply noxious weed treatment to 1,550 acres within the Blue Mountains Wildlife Area Complex to improve yearlong elk range conditions to meet elk herd management objectives (also affects Garfield and Columbia Counties). 

Chelan County—Restore 104 acres by planting trees in a clear cut area to improve cover and habitat quality for the Colockum elk herd while reducing soil erosion and improving water quality within the 4,000+ acre Stemilt Partnership acquisition, which RMEF provided financial, administrative and other professional assistance to acquire and convey into public ownership.

Columbia County—Reinforce existing two decade-old road closures in the Chase Mountain area on the Umatilla National Forest by placing boulders to provide security on 1,800 acres of elk habitat and calving areas while also paying for seed and biochar for the road bed. 

Cowlitz County—Apply lime and fertilizer to 150 acres of existing forage management areas and seed 40 acres where desirable plant cover is low to maintain quality winter range for 600-800 elk on the Mount St. Helens Wildlife Area. RMEF volunteers will plant trees and shrubs on an additional 10 acres to aid in erosion control on the Toutle River floodplain; and apply herbicide treatments to 150 acres on a combination of U.S. Forest Service and state lands with a goal of containing and/or eradicating isolated populations of mouse-ear hawkweed.

Garfield County—Burn 2,685 acres within the broader Asotin Creek Prescribed Fire Project area to restore native grasslands and improve wildlife forage. To ensure the establishment of native grasses, 435 acres will be aerially seeded after the burn on a landscape that is a summer, winter and calving area for elk as well as range for bighorn sheep. 

Okanogan County—Burn 804 acres of the Okanogan Highlands on the Chesaw Wildlife Area that was previously thinned to increase forage for an expanding elk herd.

Pend Oreille County—Burn 200 acres of shrubfield and Douglas fir parkland along with 17 acres at an old homestead meadow site on the Colville National Forest to improve forage and woody browse species for big game. Herbicide will be spot-applied over two years within the meadow to control noxious weeds; and install a series of high, earthen berms and create a visual screen and barrier with native plantings to block illegal OHV use on road closures that were specifically intended to improve habitat security for elk on winter range on the Newport-Sullivan Ranger District including the Bead Lake, Yocum Lake, Small Creek and Graham Creek drainages on the Colville National Forest.

Skamania County—Provide funding for continuing research to address the interaction of forage availability and nutritional quality on the elk population within the Mt. St. Helens eruption blast zone on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest compared to state and federal land outside the zone. The results provide a foundation for evaluating forest management, predicting future habitat condition trends and a basis for elk population management in the area; and continue herbicide treatments on 125 acres of meadows providing important summer forage for the Mount St. Helens elk herd (also affects Klickitat County).

Stevens County—Burn approximately 1,130 acres in a mix of areas on the Colville National Forest that are naturally opened and areas that have been recently thinned to improve forage on year-round elk habitat.

Yakima County—Seed 820 acres with grasses, forbs and sagebrush to restore habitat for elk and other wildlife within the Cottonwood 2 Wildfire area that burned nearly 9,000 acres of winter range in 2014 (also affects Kittitas County); and improve crucial winter range forage on the Oak Creek Wildlife Area by applying herbicides to 300 acres on the Sanford Pasture where more than 500 elk winter.

Partners for the Washington projects include the Colville, Gifford Pinchot and Umatilla National Forests, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, private landowners and various sportsmen, wildlife, civic, and government organizations.

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