Elk NetworkHabitat Enhancement Work Goes Full Circle in Idaho

General | March 24, 2023

The above video is a production of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, conservation is the “planned management of a natural resource to prevent exploitation, destruction or neglect.” In other words, taking care of a given landscape requires a calculated approach over time for its overall benefit. And that means maintaining and/or improving its habitat for animals, birds, fish, trees and plants.

Though not listed in the dictionary as a secondary definition, perhaps a key example of conservation would be the Craig Mountain Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in western Idaho. Covering 124,224 acres about 15 miles southeast of Lewiston, and not far from the Idaho-Washington border, the WMA is home to elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep, black bears, mountain lions, upland birds and other wildlife.

The mastication work in the 2023 video is the WMA’s latest habitat enhancement treatment. Though not involved with that project, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has a long conservation history on the landscape. In 1997, RMEF helped with the acquisition of a 565-acre private inholding that is now part of the WMA. A decade later, in 2007, RMEF and its volunteers teamed up with the Bureau of Land Management and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to acquire and convey a 160-acre parcel of rugged canyon country crossed by the South Fork of Capitan John Creek to be included in the WMA.

From 2001 to 2008, RMEF supplied funding for four habitat enhancement projects spread across 6,070 acres scorched by the Maloney Creek Fire of 2000. Crews seeded 3,000 acres of intensely burned areas including bulldozer lines used during fire suppression to stabilize soil and reduce the spread of noxious weeds. They also seeded 990 acres of land previously infested with yellow starthistle before the fire.

In 2005, RMEF hosted a youth camp on the WMA. And in 2012, RMEF volunteers combined with others to remove more than 3.5 miles of old, dilapidated fencing, map and inventory 20 miles of fencing to be removed and repaired a section of fencing to keep cattle out of a wildlife water guzzler.

Land acquisition and conveyance work aside, RMEF contributed $84,000 over the years for the planned management of the natural resource. Isn’t that what conservation is all about?

(Video source: Idaho Department of Fish and Game)