Elk NetworkRestoring Elk Country – Turtle Mountain, North Dakota

Conservation | March 2, 2021

Restoring elk country…presented by Yeti.

North Dakota does not have vast forestland.

However, 17 percent of its forests consist of aspen and birch species, the majority of which are within the Turtle Mountains in the northcentral part of the state.

That’s where the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation provided funding to assist the North Dakota Forest Service and North Dakota Game and Fish

Department in a multi-year effort to rejuvenate aspen stands, which offer important habitat for a wide range of wildlife from elk to ruffed grouse.

Crews use a brush cutter mounted to a skid steer to remove old, decadent aspen in a state of decline.

The treatment mimics a natural disturbance, like fire, that regenerates stands by triggering vigorous regrowth of aspen suckers or root sprouts.

Combining that with the removal or shredding of brush, fallen trees and branches will result in a mosaic pattern of different sizes of aspen, ideal for elk and other wildlife.

The 30-acre treatment over five different sites positively affects two wildlife management areas and additional acreage in the Turtle Mountain State Forest.

Restoring elk country is core to RMEF’s mission.

Since 1984, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners completed nearly 13,000 conservation and hunting heritage projects that protected or enhanced more than 8.1 million acres of wildlife habitat.