Elk NetworkRestoring Elk Country – New Mexico Pelona Mountain

Conservation | October 20, 2019

Fire suppression combined with a lack of active forest management on a landscape for up to 100 years triggers detrimental impacts on wildlife habitat.

That’s exactly what happened in southwest New Mexico where an ensuing explosion of pinyon and juniper –and even young ponderosa pine and mountain mahogany– spread into meadows, grasslands, canyon bottoms, swales and historically open mature stands.

The results? Closed canopy woodlands, soil erosion, watershed impairment and a lack of diversified, quality wildlife forage.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation provided funding for 15 different habitat projects benefiting nearly 21,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management land in the Pelona Mountain Area dating back to 1994, with more to come.

Most recently, crews lopped or removed pinion and junipers in a mosaic pattern as a pretreatment for future prescribed burns.

The thinning provides cover and promotes habitat diversity for elk, mule deer, quail, pronghorn, turkey, black bear and many species of birds and small mammals some 120 miles south and west of Albuquerque.

Over the years, RMEF also provided both funding and volunteer manpower to construct or repair past and pending wildlife water developments in an arid part of the nation where life-sustaining water can be scarce.

Restoring elk country is core to RMEF’s Managed Lands Initiative.

Since 1984, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners completed more than 12,000 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects that protected or enhanced more than 7.5 million acres of wildlife habitat.