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Project ID: 04-2-1-17

Year: 2004

Date Started: 08/30/2004

Date Completed: 09/14/2007

Title: Effects of Fuel Reduction Treatments on Rocky Mountain Elk

Project Proposal Abstract: Many western forests are characterized by overstocked stands, high fuel loads, and a high percentage of mortality from insect outbreaks. Recently passed federal legislation such as the Healthy Forests Initiative will allow land managers to intensively reduce fuel loadings on hundreds of thousands of acres. Little is known, however, about such treatments on many species of wildlife. One such species is Rocky Mountain elk, populations of which occur throughout most of the intermountain west, and provide an important recreational resource to both consumptive and non-consumptive users. We propose to examine how elk respond to a fuel reduction program consisting of mechanical treatments and prescribed fire. The U.S. Forest Service's Starkey Experimental Forest and Range is located in northeastern Oregon, about 35 miles southwest of La Grande. In 2001, the Pacific Northwest Research Station and the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest began an Adaptive Resource Management project to reduce fuel loadings on 1,599 acres on Starkey Forest. Those treatments were completed in fall 2003. The Starkey Project of the Pacific Northwest Research Station is uniquely capable of studying the response of elk to such management practices: it has a 20,000 acre main study area surrounded by an 8-foot tall game-proof fence, and an automated radio-telemetry system capable of tracking over 50 elk simultaneously. The design of the fuel treatment project consisted of approximately 80 stands of overstocked true fir which were severely impacted by the spruce budworm outbreak in the late 1980s. On half of those stands, fuel loadings were reduced by mechanical methods, followed by prescribed burning where appropriate. The other half of the stands were left untreated as experimental controls. We propose to intensively sample the vegetation in both treated and untreated control stands for a 3-year period now that the treatments have been completed. This will allows us to assess the success of treatment activities. At the same time, we will monitor use of treated and untreated stands by Rocky Mountain elk using our radio-telemetry system. Our hypotheses include: that elk will show preferential use of treated stands; that such use will depend on the response of vegetation following treatments; and that the shape, size, and spacing of treatment areas will also influence landscape-level use by elk. At the completion of this 3-year study, we will publish our results in peer-reviewed literature, and also conduct a 2-day workshop for land managers on the ground at the Starkey Experimental Forest and Range.

Principal Investigator: John G. Kie

Agency/Organization: Forest Service

Branch or Dept: PNW-Forestry & Range Sciences Lab-LaGrande

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Co-Principal Investigator

Janet L. Rachlow

University of Idaho

Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources

Co-Principal Investigator

Martin Vavra

Forest Service

PNW-Forestry & Range Sciences Lab-LaGrande

Federal Cooperator

John G. Kie

Forest Service

PNW-Forestry & Range Sciences Lab-LaGrande

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network

Northern Rockies


There are no project locations identified for this project.

Project Deliverables

Final Report view or print

("Results presented in JFSP Final Reports may not have been peer-reviewed and should be interpreted as tentative until published in a peer-reviewed source.")

  ID Type Title
    2731 Invited Paper/Presentation Spatiotemporal Response of Elk to Forest Fuels Reduction
    2732 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Spatiotemporal Response of Elk to Forest Fuels Reduction
    2733 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Spatiotemporal Response of Elk to Forest Fuels Reduction
    2734 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Evaluating Wildlife-Habitat Relationships: A Comparison of Two Model-Building Approaches
    2735 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Modeling Wildlife-Habitat Relationships: An Evaluation of Daily Patterns of Resource Selection Using a New Technique
    2736 Poster A Niche-Based Framework for Evaluating Species-and-Sex-Specific Responses of Elk and Mule Deer to Forest Fuels Reduction
    5425 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Evaluating Wildlife-Habitat Relationships: A Comparison of Two Model-Building Approaches

Supporting Documents

There are no supporting documents available for this project.

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