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Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forest Canyon Lakes Ranger District Elk Management Issues and Factors.

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Presentation on theme: "Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forest Canyon Lakes Ranger District Elk Management Issues and Factors."— Presentation transcript:

1 Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forest Canyon Lakes Ranger District Elk Management Issues and Factors

2 Presentation Overview Colorado Parks and Wildlife management –Animal/Population management – direct USFS elk management –Management Indicator Species, but more focus on ecosystem health and TES and other MIS species. Habitat management and multi-use land management activities. NPS management –“Natural processes” management Trophic cascades effects Examples of natural disturbances and management actions that impact elk habitat

3 Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests

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5 Elk winter and summer ranges

6 Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) Elk Management Plans Red Feather-Poudre Canyon Herd (GMUs 7, 8, 9, 19 & 191) – November 2009 Set population objective of (slight increase in current herd estimate of 3750 in 2008, and increase from previous objective of 3300). Estimated 4140 in Saint Vrain Herd (GMU 20) – May 2007 Retained population objective of (will need to reduce from 3400 elk in 2005 by hunter harvest; 4400 elk in 1999). Estimated 2470 in 2011.

7 Elk Management on Arapaho-Roosevelt NF Management Indicator Species for Young to Mature Forest Structural Stages Forest Plan management direction for “habitat effectiveness” (road/trail densities) Seasonal timing restrictions on activities Habitat improvement projects (Rx burn, road decom/closures, fuels reduction, timber harvest) But, emphasis on Threatened, Endangered, and FS Sensitive (TES) species and ecosystem health

8 Elk Management in Rocky Mountain N. P. No hunting Absence of main elk predator (wolves) Impacts to aspen, willow, and cottonwood (and other habitats, e.g. aquatic systems) Elk viewing important draw to RMNP, and also to Estes Park

9 “Trophic Cascades” effect in Yellowstone National Park (Lamar River Basin study and others) 70-year absence of main predator on elk (wolves) Pre-wolf reintroduction, elk populations very high (15,000) Long-term impacts to aspen, willow, and cottonwood from elk browsing Wolf reintroduction in 1995 and 1996 Decrease in elk numbers (6,000) and change in elk behavior (“ecology of fear”) - more dispersed habitat use by elk Increase in aspen, cottonwood, and willow habitat

10 “Trophic Cascades” effect in Yellowstone National Park (more) Reappearance/increase in beaver colonies (1 to 12) Positive impacts on stream and fish habitat Decrease in coyotes Increase in small mammals (voles), especially near wolf dens Increase in red fox (and scavengers) Increase in riparian and aspen-associated songbirds (e.g. common yellowthroat, warbling vireo, song sparrow) After 15 years, still early stages of ecosystem recovery

11 “Trophic Cascades” effect in Rocky Mountain National Park? Same impacts to willow, cottonwood, and aspen in RMNP from long-term browsing by high elk populations in absence of wolves Similar impacts to hardwoods (cottonwood and bur oak) documented in Wind Cave NP (SD), indicating Great Plains ecosystems may have been altered by same processes (high levels of browsing by wild ungulates [and livestock] after removal of large carnivores)

12 Impacts to aspen from long-term browsing

13 Impacts to willow from long-term browsing

14 Natural Disturbances and Elk Habitat

15 Management Actions and Elk Habitat

16 Sheep Creek Prescribed Burn

17 Fuels Reduction Before and After: Fuels Reduction Project

18 Project Planning Project Purpose and Need Hazardous Fuels Wildlife Habitat Improvement Watershed Restoration / Protection Timber Production

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21 Questions?


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