Conifer removal project complete on Mount Haggin Wildlife Management Area

ANACONDA — Fish, Wildlife and Parks has completed the second phase of a conifer removal project on Mount Haggin Wildlife Management Area, improving hundreds of acres of habitat for many wildlife species.

In the second phase of the project, crews removed small-diameter lodgepole and Douglas fir trees from 208 acres of elk summer range, according to a news release. Many of these removed trees were gathered into burn piles to reduce their impact on grass and shrub growth. Juniper, five-needle pines, ponderosa pine and deciduous tree species were left standing to maintain adequate cover and diversity.

The first phase of the project was completed in 2020 and included treating more than 800 acres of winter range. Additional phases are being planned to continue this project in other areas of the WMA, with the goal of treating approximately 2,500 acres.

Photo analyses over the past 40 years revealed significant conifer tree expansion into sagebrush shrublands, grasslands, aspen stands and riparian areas on the WMA. Left unchecked, this expansion could negatively impact the big game populations that depend on these plant communities for calving and fawning, summer weight gain, and winter survival, along with other wildlife species such as mountain grouse, songbirds and small mammals.

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