Elk NetworkRestoring Elk Country – Sproul State Forest Forage Openings, PA

Restoring Elk Country | March 28, 2024

Sproul State Forest Forage Openings, PA

The mature, hardwood forests of north-central Pennsylvania are beautiful.

Among them is the 305,000-acre Sproul State Forest, the largest in the state forest system.

Like others, it is green and lush, but its closed-canopy and dense nature can be challenging for elk and other wildlife in search of a good meal.

Beginning in 2019, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation supplied funding along with other partners for five projects designed to improve forage by maintaining or creating wildlife openings or, in other words, grassy and vegetation-filled meadows in the mountainous terrain.

While each of the projects was in a different location within the Sproul State Forest, each had a similar approach.

Crews first applied herbicide to remove undesirable, competing vegetation not attractive for elk and other wildlife.

An application of lime prepared the soil for seeding by reducing its acidity followed by the planting of a seed mixture of clover, radish, turnip or other palatable plants.

The creation of this early seral or young habitat greatly benefits elk, whitetail deer, black bears, ruffed grouse, wild turkeys, songbirds, other wildlife and even pollinator insects.

And to keep those wildlife openings as is, crews follow up with annual mowing, then re-plant the openings on a four-to-five-year cycle.

Restoring elk country is fundamental to RMEF’s mission of ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

Since 1984, RMEF helped conserve or enhance more than 8.9 million acres of wildlife habitat.