High Elevation Habitat Restoration
By Sportsman for Fish and Wildlife This article was originally published in Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife SFW News . September 28, 2015 Read the Original SFW Article Here. The state of Utah with SFW’s help has restored more than 1 million acres of pinion and juniper habitat, primarily critical winter range areas that deer and elk rely on for survival. Deer herds in particular are responding well. At the higher elevation, those above 8,500 feet, conifer trees, like pinion juniper, have reduced the best deer and elk habitat stands. Deer and elk rely on these stands to fatten up during the summer months prior to migrating to lower wintering elevations. This reduction in high elevation habitat has two negative impacts: 1) Deer go into the winter with much lower percentages of body fat, 2) Some in the Forest Service, and a study at Utah State co-opted by anti-hunters, are recommending dramatic reductions in elk populations in order to allow regeneration, after conifer removal.
Avid SFW member Mike Siaperas and the DWR have treated approximately 400 acres by removing dense conifer stands. The resulting regeneration is nothing short of amazing. These on-the-ground projects are proving that habitat can be successfully restored with proper removal of former stands of old, dense conifer stands. Even in the presence of high concentrations of elk and deer, these projects are proving successful. SFW and the DWR are working on ground breaking, on-the-ground regeneration—ground breaking in terms of the financial investment and in the application.
Early aspen regeneration results. Large-scale regeneration projects on our great public lands over the next 10 years will allow for increased elk and deer populations across Utah. But it will take money and hard work to overcome the many oppositions, mostly created by anti-wildlife interests, to restore populations that will protect our elk and deer herds.