Elk NetworkRestoring Elk Country – Book Cliffs, UT

General , Restoring Elk Country | May 15, 2024

Restoring Elk Country – Book Cliffs, UT

The Book Cliffs of eastern Utah are among the most remote, rugged and yet beautiful landscapes in the Lower 48.

The high plateau region is migratory corridor for elk and mule deer but it’s also extremely dry because of prolonged drought leading to poor forage conditions and summer range.

These conditions contributed to declining deer and elk populations over the years.

In 2019, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation joined the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and other partners to form a working group to help identify needed improvements – one of which was to build more wildlife water resources spread across a half million acres of public lands.

Leading up to that time, RMEF previously supplied funding dating back to 2011 for 54 new water guzzlers and repair five others across the Book Cliffs.

The refocused working group effort led many projects, including RMEF providing funding assistance for the construction of 27 more guzzlers and three ponds as well as upgrades to 17 existing ponds over just two years.

At each guzzler site – both new and refurbished – crews placed 1,800-gallon tanks into the ground. Above each of them, they built metal aprons that capture and feed rainwater and snowmelt into the tanks that wildlife can use during the dry season.

The water projects are a boon not just for elk and mule deer, but also pronghorn antelope, black bears, bison, mountain lions, turkey and many other bird and wildlife species.

And going forward, the working group has more conservation projects planned.

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.