Although there are now approximately 45 elk in the Clam Lake area, very few people have seen the elk since the day of the release. The Great Divide Ranger District and the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center hope to change that by creating three to four elk/wildlife viewing areas in the vicinity of Clam Lake. This will give people a close look at the elk. Both the Visitorâs Center and District are receiving a grant from the Chief of the Forest Service along with matching contributions from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF), ELF project (United States Navy), Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR),, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (F&WS). This is the first grant by the Chief that emphasizes his Natural Resources Agenda which includes: Watershed Health and Restoration, Sustainable Forest Ecosystem Management, Forest Roads and Recreation.
With the help of Dr. Ray Anderson (Elk Project Leader), several potential viewing areas have been located. These are areas that have a high potential of elk occurrences because of present use discovered through radio-collar transmitters. Each viewing area would have a different degree of accessibility ranging from pulling off the main road to a half mile hike up a trail. At least one of the areas would be handicap accessible.
The Chief’s grant portion of the funding involving the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center, located near Ashland would go toward creating exhibits, brochures, interpretive signs and a resource kit for use at schools and community events. These would be produced at the Center and link to the on-the-ground experience with the Elk/Wildlife Viewing areas in the Clam Lake vicinity.
At the selected viewing sites there would be several activities that would involve creating some ecologically sensitive mounds, erecting interpretive signs, installing some metal gates to prohibit motorized access, parking to accommodate three to ten vehicles and seeding the openings to desirable non-native or native grass and legume mixtures.
This project invites the public to experience the lifeways of key wildlife while building new understanding of ecological concepts, resource management, and the complex relations between wildlife, human interests and their actions. The education will be aimed at reinforcing the values of renewable resources like elk and other wildlife and the value of their habitat.
[Image: Courtesy of Flickr user clarissa~]