See how RMEF is Restoring Elk Country in Your Neck of the Woods
Covering 60,000 acres of White Pine County, the Kern Mountains host elk, deer and pronghorn, and are an important stop for migratory birds. But lack of fire and active forestry has allowed pinyons and junipers to outcompete mountain brush and sagebrush that wildlife rely on as forage. Nevada Department of Wildlife, working with the Bureau of Land Management’s Ely district and RMEF, removed P-J trees on more than 1,500 acres in 2020, which also reduced the risk of severe fire.
West of Denver, the Mt. Evans State Wildlife Area provides 3,400 acres that includes high-elevation meadows and aspen stands that elk herds adore. But forest health is declining, pushing elk into nearby residential areas. Last summer RMEF helped Colorado Parks and Wildlife fund thinning of encroaching lodgepoles and other pines on 46 acres of aspen and meadows. Reopening this canopy is now helping regenerate aspen and ground forage treasured by elk and other wildlife.
Tucked in Wyoming’s southwest corner, the Lowham Ranch provides 2,600 acres of critical habitat for deer, moose, pronghorn, sage grouse and the threatened leatherside chub. It also winters more than 300 elk and allows some public walk‑in hunting. RMEF recently helped fund replacement of 1.1 miles of fencing that hindered migrations and killed wildlife. Contractors installed new wildlife-friendly, smooth-wire fence so pronghorn and other species can safely navigate it.
With help from an RMEF grant, Adam Mohr completed his master’s project comparing the habitat preferences of two elk subspecies that live adjacent to one another. Mohr’s team placed GPS collars on 33 Roosevelt’s and 36 tule elk. He found Roosevelt’s seek plentiful food near heavy cover and away from roads, while tules are drawn to drier, more open areas with dependable food and water based on the season. This should help guide future elk restorations and stewardship, and help refine population estimates.