Elk NetworkCollin’s Park Forest Thinning, New Mexico – Restoring Elk Country

Conservation , Restoring Elk Country | October 19, 2021

Once known as Collin’s Park, the now deserted small outpost is a large meadow that sits on the Continental Divide at an elevation of 7,135 feet in western New Mexico.

Remote, rugged and picturesque, it provides year-round habitat for elk, including vital calving grounds.

However, due to more than half a century of fire suppression and a lack of active forest management, the landscape is unnaturally dense with trees encroaching into historic grasslands.

Dating back to 2017, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation provided more than $43,000 that leveraged an additional $108,000 in partner funding to do something about it.

RMEF worked with the Gila (HEEL’-uh) National Forest on the Reserve Ranger District about 20 miles southeast of the small town of Reserve to conduct forest thinning and prescribed burn treatments to enhance more than 8,300 acres of wildlife habitat.

The multi-year effort is part of the larger, nearly 60,000-acre Burro Landscape Project that began in 2010.

In 2020 and 2021, U.S. Forest Service crews removed pinyon-juniper and smaller ponderosa pine trees encroaching on 100 acres of grassland on the south end of Collin’s Park to increase forage production.

Remaining wood from the project provided firewood for locals to collect.
Additional work nearby improved wildlife water sources beneficial for pronghorn antelope, mule deer, wild turkey and other wildlife.

Restoring elk country is core to RMEF’s mission. Since 1984, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners completed 13,000 conservation and hunting heritage projects that protected or enhanced more than 8.1 million acres of wildlife habitat.