NEAH BAY (Sept. 20, 2006)–Bird calls echo through a sun-dappled forest interspersed with native salmonberry, huckleberry and sword fern. Tracks and the scat of bears, elk and deer tell Makah wildlife division manager Rob McCoy that a once nearly wildlife-free area is now teeming with life.
“This 122-acre piece of Makah owned commercial forest land was thinned five years ago to improve habitat for elk and deer,” said McCoy. “Thinning encourages a more diverse forest that includes smaller trees and native shrubs like the salmonberry that elk and deer love to eat,” said McCoy. The tribe also created several meadows in which deer and elk and can feed. grass was seeded throughout the meadows as well as on 2.5 miles of abandoned logging roads. “Before the thinning, we never saw signs of deer and elk using this area. Now, they are routinely found here,” said McCoy.
A dense stand of timber is rarely used by by many species of wildlife because there is little understory vegetation for food. “Thinning, particularly multiple thinnings over time, is not only better for wildlife, it also enhances the commercial value of the remaining trees which grow larger more quickly,” said McCoy.
The tribe also closed vehicle access to most of the thinned unit, reducing stress on wildlife. “It’s important to provide a place for the elk and deer where disturbances are reduced to maintain the health of the overall population,” said McCoy.
“From a deer and elk perspective, this approach works,” said McCoy. “It’s costly and takes a real commitment by the tribe, but the benefits to wildlife are clear.”
For more information, contact: Ben Johnson, Makah Tribal Chairman, (360) 645-3234; Rob McCoy, wildlife division manager, Makah Tribe, (360) 645-3058; Debbie Preston, coastal information officer, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commisson, (360) 374-5501, [email protected]