19 wolves culled in Lolo zone...

BuzzH

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I guess it depends on the time scale you choose to use. Much of that old growth wasn't, by definition, replaced for many hundreds of years. It's also wet in that country, relative to the rain shadow to the east and the Salmon River country to the south, so I can see how fires that did burn through there were cool ground fires, eliminating the story-catchers (food) and leaving the big trees alone.
I agree, it does depend on time scale, species composition, elevation, and even the definition of "old growth"...as to how often a stand/region/area experience stand replacing disturbance. Its not correct to assume, based strictly on yearly average precipitation, that "old growth" will never experience stand replacement. In many lodgepole types, for example, its not uncommon for stand replacement disturbance to happen in 100-200 years, but, in some places like Yellowstone, the Bob Marshall, etc. there are stands of lodgepoles that are 300+ years old that haven't been replaced. Most would consider 200+ year old trees as old growth, but there is absolutely no question that the ecology of any forest dominated by lodgepole, that stand replacing disturbance has been the mode of forest succession there.

I just question the idea of an old growth forest lacking elk because it was over run with wolves. Or the idea that we should open it up for elk and then blame a lack of elk on wolves. If it wasn't elk country for Lewis and Clark, then it probably wasn't elk country for wolves either. Maybe it shouldn't be elk country. Maybe it should be old growth with cool ground fires. If we want to open it up for elk then I can hear the saws firing up to help us. Is that a good thing? Maybe. Not my cup of tea. Not everything is about us and I don't want to hunt country that is.
Agree, maybe even more accurately, it shouldn't be elk country but once every 200-300 years, or at least country that can support large numbers of elk like the number found after WWII...

IMO, I think we're just seeing a logical, predictable decline in elk there based on what was there historically with the ecology of the region.

I believe what stalled the crash in elk was logging in the 50's-late 70's or the crash would have happened long before wolves were on the landscape again.
 
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James Riley

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I agree, it does depend on time scale, species composition, elevation, and even the definition of "old growth"...as to how often a stand/region/area experience stand replacing disturbance. Its not correct to assume, based strictly on yearly average precipitation, that "old growth" will never experience stand replacement. In many lodgepole types, for example, its not uncommon for stand replacement disturbance to happen in 100-200 years, but, in some places like Yellowstone, the Bob Marshall, etc. there are stands of lodgepoles that are 300+ years old that haven't been replaced. Most would consider 200+ year old trees as old growth, but there is absolutely no question that the ecology of any forest dominated by lodgepole, that stand replacing disturbance has been the mode of forest succession there.



Agree, maybe even more accurately, it shouldn't be elk country but once every 200-300 years, or at least country that can support large numbers of elk like the number found after WWII...

IMO, I think we're just seeing a logical, predictable decline in elk there based on what was there historically with the ecology of the region.

I believe what stalled the crash in elk was logging in the 50's-late 70's or the crash would have happened long before wolves were on the landscape again.
I know the best tipi poles in the U.S. come from Montana Lodgepole but that's about all I know about it (that and the fire/seed deal). We have some in CO but a lot was hit by the beetle. Most of what I remember in the Lolo Country was Cedar, White Pine, Red Pine, Spruce, Yew and whatnot. They were all huge for a Colorado boy. It's been over twenty years though and my memory ain't what it used to be. As to logging, I remember some sights up on the St. Joe and west of Avery (I could tell some Avery stories) that were hit by Plum Creek that were pretty "interesting." Right down to the creeks, cobble embedeness like the Mississippi, and moonscapes on slopes that were incredibly steep.
 
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idelkslayer

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Another reason why lewis and clark didn't much game while traveling the lolo trail was because it was late in the year and they were traveling during a snowstorm. The game would have been down in the lower elevations by then. On their return trip in the spring they did kill several deer.

A study done in the Nez Perce forest (selway area) showed that historically fires occurred every 5-6 years whereas at the time of the study fires were only occuring every 12-15 years. The obvious conclusion is that Native burning explains the higher fire frequencies of the past.

I completely agree with BuzzH's assessment that logging helped keep the elk population high for as long as it did. As logging declined in the 80's so did the elk.

However, there is still a lot of good open ground to support elk in both the lochsa and selway drainages.
 

James Riley

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Just out of curiosity, what's the deal with Roosevelt Elk? Do they live in big, old growth timber? Or do they have, and depend upon, large, or lots of small open areas? Do they browse or are they primarily grazers too? Are they in much lower numbers? Do they herd up like Rocky Mountain Elk? What kind of wolf situation do they face?

The reason I ask is because I wonder if the north Idaho Lewis and Clark era elk might have conducted themselves more like Roosevelts than Rocky Mountain elk?

I suppose I could go do a bunch of research instead of bugging you with all these questions but I'm lazy. :D I won't be depressed if no one answers. I read Thomas and Toweill's "Elk of North America" about three times, cover to cover but that was back in the early 80s and I forgot all the Roosevelt stuff. :eek: Maybe I'll go pull that out again. Don't know if it's been superseded by better over the years.

Thinking out loud.
 

James Riley

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I went and read the relevant chapter again and was reminded of the complex mosaic of seasonal needs for ideal elk habitat and how it differs across North America. Coming from Colorado I always think in terms of up, down, water, thermal cover and grass. But there is so much more to it; beyond just the forest edge we all read about in junior high. It's over my head but the book did touch on all the different points made here regarding logging, fire (hot and cool), migration, and etc. It specifically talked about the area in question and west and north of there. Plus it went into recreation and livestock and other issues. I did come away with the lesson that what is ideal for elk is not always ideal for other critters (including humans) and vegetation, and that areas change over time, because of us, and naturally. Duh! Anyway, it seems the complexity of what has happened prevents a conclusive understanding (in my mind) of what actually was, or what would be, but-for us; and that would probably be true even if we hadn't been meddling.

They did talk about how even the Indians considered it tough to hunt in the deep forest. They pursued them seasonally (usually winter) when they were down and out of the thick and steep. Good book.
 

BigHornRam

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Natives did use fire a lot in the past. Helped to keep trails open and to provide good grass for their horses (and game to hunt) when they passed through those areas in future years.

Here's a good book that discusses different fire regimes, the historical role of fire, and what can be done to improve forest health in todays world.

http://www.amazon.com/Mimicking-Natures-Fire-Restoring-Fire-Prone/dp/1559631430
 

James Riley

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Natives did use fire a lot in the past. Helped to keep trails open and to provide good grass for their horses (and game to hunt) when they passed through those areas in future years.

Here's a good book that discusses different fire regimes, the historical role of fire, and what can be done to improve forest health in todays world.

http://www.amazon.com/Mimicking-Natures-Fire-Restoring-Fire-Prone/dp/1559631430
Looks like a good read. I might have to pick that up. You HT people are luring me back into a fold I thought I left. Must . . . resist, must . . . fight . . . this . . . urge to get educated and protect; stop me, before I litigate again! :D

When I left I remember the spin doctors could take ANY scientifically based argument for forest management and work it into a reason to get the road in and the cut out, from blue wood to beetles to drought to fire prevention to wildlife to erosion control to watershed protection to view shed protection to whatever. No matter the issue, they were always there, ready to help. Especially with the big trees. :rolleyes:

It always seemed to me that if old growth was truly a renewable resource then, after nearly 400 years we could go back to Massachusetts and start working our way west again.

Anyway, that book looks like it might have a non-saw/road-based view of things. Sorry about the rant, thanks for the link.
 

BigHornRam

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Looks like a good read. I might have to pick that up. You HT people are luring me back into a fold I thought I left. Must . . . resist, must . . . fight . . . this . . . urge to get educated and protect; stop me, before I litigate again! :D

When I left I remember the spin doctors could take ANY scientifically based argument for forest management and work it into a reason to get the road in and the cut out, from blue wood to beetles to drought to fire prevention to wildlife to erosion control to watershed protection to view shed protection to whatever. No matter the issue, they were always there, ready to help. Especially with the big trees. :rolleyes:

It always seemed to me that if old growth was truly a renewable resource then, after nearly 400 years we could go back to Massachusetts and start working our way west again.

Anyway, that book looks like it might have a non-saw/road-based view of things. Sorry about the rant, thanks for the link.
The book has a common sense view of things. Might not be a good read for you.;)
 

Highwood

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The reason the Canadian Wolves did so well in the Selway was the abundant food source the abundant food source was Elk. The wolves like everywhere have become their own worst enemy. Now we have a balance,few wolves and fewer elk.
The elk will come back to the Selway only if the wolves are managed to a minimum.
 

Randy11

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If ever that country was ripe for another 100-300 year fire event it'd be this year. I spent this weekend on the Idaho/Montana border looking for bears, and snowpack is probably close to two months ahead of a normal year. If it stays this course we're in for a long summer.
 

bkondeff

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Prophetic Post

The Selway may be a great place for elk in 30-50 years after this year's fire. Wish I was aroound to see it.
 

Steelhead

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Unfortunately the mountains of Idaho do not lend themselves to efficient predator culling...the best we could hope for is reasonable population management.
 
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