Elk NetworkKimberly Clark Wildlife Area, Wisconsin – Restoring Elk Country

Restoring Elk Country | November 8, 2021

Wisconsin has two distinct elk ranges.

The Clam Lake Elk Range, the older of the two located in the northern part of the state, features the larger elk population and includes the 8,700-acre Kimberly Clark Wildlife Area.

Just east of the Flambeau (FLAM’-bow) River State Forest, where elk were restored in 2017, the wildlife area provides important wildlife and riparian habitat.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation provided more than $23,000 in grant funding that leveraged an additional $101,000 from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to carry out a handful of projects here to improve both wildlife forage and public access.

By thinning selective patches and strips within aspen stands over five years, crews created a mix of forage openings and early seral habitat that better supports elk, deer, black bears, turkey, grouse and a wide range of other wildlife.

Additional work included restoring more than nine miles of firebreak, establishing and restoring forage openings, and prescribed burning 3,526 acres to rejuvenate grasslands, wetlands and young forest.

A popular area for hunting, hiking and other recreational activities, getting year-round access was impossible because of heavy damage to the unstable dirt road and a poor draining system built in the 1960s.

Combined RMEF and DNR funding allowed crews to replace failing culverts along a nearly 5-mile stretch of road, improve a trout stream segment, remove several problematic beaver dams that eroded the road, construct new ditches and apply more than 10,000 cubic yards of gravel to raise the road to a sustainable grade.

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.