Habitat Improvement Projects: Intensive Management
Twodux asked a good question in a previous thread. What if any thing has been done to improve habitat? As usual, ADF&G did all the heavy lifting. Thank you to the Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game Division of Wildlife Conservation.
Habitat improvement (especially the use of controlled burning to improve habitat) is one of the active elements of the state’s Intensive Management program of ungulate populations of big game animals that provide food, subsistence, sport hunting, and improved economic opportunities.
I contacted ADF&G Division of Wildlife Conservation and they answered my questions. Here is what the habitat improvement projects look like so far as I could put together from the info I got:
- 2003-2005 ADF&G, State Forestry (DOF), and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) successfully burned 41,000 acres of state land identified for habitat management in the Alphabet Hills of GMU 13 in the Glennallen District. A donation of money from the Anchorage Chapter of the Safari Club International paid for ADF&G to establish browse plots within the burn in 2005 to evaluate vegetation regrowth. An additional moose count area was established during the fall of 2005 w/in the burn to help evaluate moose number response to this burn.
- 2006 a 50-acre spring mechanical browse crushing project was carried out to improve overwinter survival in a critical area along the lower Chistochina River. The project was funded by the Alaska Soil & Water Conservation District, ADF&G and the Cheesh’na Tribal Council. The ADF&G and BLM staff will cooperatively monitor vegetation regrowth and overall benefit to moose. The project will also be used as an educational tool w/in the Copper River Valley to promote healthy moose habitat and additional projects to further benefit moose through habitat manipulation.
- 2008 ADF&G (and others) accomplished a browse crushing project to rejuvenate willows in the Delta Area on 779 acres.
- In addition between 1995-2008 ADF&G and Div. of Forestry (DOF) accomplished the following projects to improve wildlife habitat, promote forest regeneration, and provide hunter access:
- Landscape-scale prescribed burns were accomplished on 82,541 acres in 3-units of the Tok Area in 1998 & 1999.
- 144 acres of blade scarification for natural regeneration was accomplished on 4-units.
- Small scale controlled burns were accomplished on 181 acres in 11 units of the Fairbanks area sponsored by monies donated by the Ruffed Grouse Society.
- Mechanical shearblading was accomplished on 337 acres in 9 units to promote browse regrowth and grouse habitat in the Fairbanks & Delta Areas.
- Aspen felling projects were accomplished on 472 acres in 44 units to promote aspen regrowth root sprouting of smaller sized early seral stages of forest growth required by serveral species of wildlife for components of habitat benefiting ruffed grouse, moose and furbearers.
- Mechanical willow crushing was accomplished on 655 acres in 3 units in Fairbanks and Tok to promote new willows available for moose browse, snowshoe hare, ptarmigan, and furbearers.
- In 1995, 1996 and 1999 the Ruffed Grouse Society donated money to build 6.6 miles of new hunter forest access roads.
- In 2008 the DOF and Ruffed Grouse Society accomplished 150 acres of excavator scarification for natural regeneration in the Mat-Su to regenerate hardwoods for browse and reforestation.
- Blade scarification was accomplished on 70 acres in the Fairbanks Area along Mosquito Creek in 1998.
- In 1995-1998 17,000 willow cuttings were planted in the Standard Creek Timber harvest area near Fairbanks.
- From 2000 to 2011 more than 1,000 acres of aspen was felled for regeneration in the Mat-Valley Moose Range using monies donated by the Ruffed Grouse Society, Anchorage Chapter.
- In 2000 and 2002 the Ruffed Grouse Society donated monies to accomplish 237 acres of aspen felling in the Delta Area for forest regeneration and diverse habitats for ruffed grouse, moose and furbearers.
Research is vital to habitat management prior to, during and after a project. Contact the ADF&G office near you for exact locations of these projects. Previous wildfires are also good locations to expect diverse regenerated wildlife habitats.
Fairbanks, Delta, Tok, Glennallen and the Tanana State Forest have produced more habitat improvement projects than the more populated districts because these less urban areas have people that are of a more rural original background (IMO).
I hope others will add to this information. I am not aware of any habitat improvement projects on federal lands. The Ruffed Grouse Society, Alaska Chapters have donated several hundred thousand dollars to Alaska wildlife habitat improvement projects in the last 20-years, other clubs that donated funds include the Safari Club, Ducks Unlimited, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foudation, the Federation for North American Wild Sheep, the Alaska Moose Federation, etc.
If you know of an organization that has donated money used for a habitat improvement project in Alaska let it be known. Money talks.