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An elk exclosure part of the Aspen regeneration project at Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge. An elk exclosure part of the Aspen regeneration project at Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge. Teressa Montalvo
11 September 2019

Refuge Projects

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During my time here at Lost Trail NWR, I have helped Mrs. Beverly with many projects out in the field and have also been doing one of my own. Mrs. Beverly currently has three active projects—acoustic monitoring, aspen regeneration, and scratch pads.

The goal for the acoustic monitoring project is to monitor what birds are in the different areas over time. As the lake and creeks are restored, different birds live on the refuge. The 4 acoustic monitors record sounds for 15 minutes every hour for 10 days before they are moved to a different location. They are gauging the success of the restoration based on what animals are living on the refuge.

The goal for the aspen regeneration project is to have more aspen on the refuge to attract more birds. The main problems are that there is an overgrowth of pines (mostly Lodgepole) that shouldn’t be here and there are too many elk (300-350) that keep nipping the terminal buds off and stopping growth. To remedy the pine issue, there is a fire crew at the refuge cutting down trees that don’t belong and they will later have a control burn. To remedy the elk problem, we have fenced in aspen groves. There are three different types of exclosures: 1) fencing, 2) a tree fence made up trees that are cut down and piled high enough the elk can’t jump over and 3) a tree mess. The lodgepole pine trees are cut down and left where they are to make a mess that the elk will not want to walk through and aspen trees can grow through.

Lastly, my favorite project is the scratch pads. This project was originally in place to see if Canadian lynx was using the refuge because they are endangered, and the refuge was a perfect place for them to live historically, but now is used for all species. The scratch pads are carpet squares that are bolted onto trees and have screws coming out. They are rubbed with lure to attract an animal and the animal then rubs themselves on the smell. In doing so, they leave behind some hair. We then collect the hair and they get analyzed so we can see what animals are on the refuge.

My own project is to spruce up the visitor’s center. I am working on two different things for that: 1) CWD awareness and 2) tree cookie education. CWD has just made its way into Libby, MT which is an hour away from the refuge. There has been 4 cases of confirmed CWD, so I did research and made a poster, factsheet, and call card about CWD to keep the public informed and to encourage them to call in if they see a sick deer, elk, or moose. My tree cookie project is fun. There is a giant tree cookie in the visitor’s center that is over 1,000 years old. To go with that, Mrs. Beverly made a timeline of events in the tree’s life that lines up with scars or narrow lines on the tree. I have expanded it and have an explanation on how to age a tree and what to look for in the rings to tell you about what has happened during its life (whether it be fire scars, insect scars, a limb fell off, or it had little or a lot of water that year). After looking over how to age a tree, a visitor can then practice on the 10 tree cookies that I have sanded down and stained. It is really fun and I’m excited to see how it turns out.

MANO Project
is an initiative of Hispanic 
Access Foundation.

P: (202) 640-4342