Restoring Elk Country – WV Tomblin WMA Invasive Plant Treatment

Returning elk to their historic West Virginia range in 2016 did not mark the end of a long-planned-for elk restoration effort in the southern Appalachian Mountains. No, it was just the beginning.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, TC Energy Foundation and other organizations then supplied funding to create the Tomblin Wildlife Management Area – 25,000 acres across Logan and Mingo Counties that make up the heart of today’s West Virginia’s elk range.

The work did not stop there, either.

RMEF supported a series of West Virginia Division of Natural Resources projects to enhance wildlife habitat.

The large, reclaimed surface mine lands once offered ideal habitat but autumn olive –an invasive shrub– crowded out grass and other vegetation used by elk and other wildlife.

Beginning in the fall of 2022 and stretching into early 2023, crews employed what we can call a spray and burn method.

First, a hired contractor in a helicopter sprayed an herbicide mixture over the 287-acre project area.

Doing so knocked down the autumn olive and set the table for the next treatment tool – fire.

Crews used drip torches to apply prescribed fire across 226 acres, burning off the invasive plant species prior to that spring and summer’s growing season.

The habitat stewardship project improved forage for elk, whitetail deer, black bears, wild turkey, grouse and other wildlife.

And since the Tomblin Wildlife Management Area is close to Kentucky’s elk range, the work may benefit elk from there too.

Restoring elk country is fundamental to RMEF’s mission of ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

Since 1984, RMEF helped conserve or enhance more than 8.9 million acres of wildlife habitat.

The post Restoring Elk Country – Tomblin WMA, WV appeared first on Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

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