Elk NetworkForest Restoration in Spanish Peaks, Colorado – How RMEF is Restoring Elk Country

Restoring Elk Country | December 6, 2021

With more than 15,000 elk, the Trinchera herd is among the largest in the state. The mighty Spanish Peaks northwest of Trinidad jut like a bull’s-eye from the center of this herd’s territory, flanked to the south by Spanish Peaks State Wildlife Area (SWA), a popular destination for big game hunters come fall. But for decades, lack of intensive management coupled with widespread fire suppression have contributed to heavy tree growth across this area that was once wide-open and grass-covered, hampering the ability of elk and other wildlife to graze there. RMEF provided a grant to help Colorado Parks and Wildlife complete the third phase of a project to improve overall forest health and habitat on critical elk and deer winter range on the SWA. Workers thinned more than 200 acres of mixed coniferous forest using a hydro-axe mounted to the front of a tractor. The freshly opened landscape is now flush with new grasses to the delight of elk, deer, songbirds, small mammals and big game hunters.