Aspen Bibliography

Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

North American elk: ecology, behavior and management

First Page


Last Page


Publication Date



Grazing impact by elk and moose has been a point of concern in Jackson Hole for many years. Concern has been primarily directed towards sparsely vegetated south aspects, aspen stands, and willow bottoms. Numerous transects have quantified heavy foliage utilization. Trend studies have been mostly inconclusive. Study of historical narratives have quantified heavy forage utilization. Trend studies have been mostly inconclusive. Study of historical narratives, early photographs and consideration of plant physiology, soils data, and fire ecology have aided interpretations of vegetal trend and plant succession in recent years. Photographs show little change on sparsely vegetated sites. Soils information on these sites indicate that vegetal growth is limited by low site potential. Utilization of plants during the dormant winter period and early spring is not viewed as damaging. Early narratives suggest that forage species evolved under high levels of elk foraging.

Fire was formerly the predominant abiotic agent influencing vegetal succession on most sites. A reduction in acres burned has allowed vegetation to reach advanced succession at the expense of herbaceous plants and deciduous shrubs and trees. With advancing succession, the carrying capacity for elk and other wildlife has declined. Resulting low levels of aspen regeneration on winter ranges have been suppressed by foraging elk and moose.

It has been concluded that prescribed fire is a viable means of rejuvenating preferred vegetation on productive sites and improving the carrying capacity for elk and other wildlife. A prescribed burn of 1,000 acres was accomplished on Breakneck Flat and appropriate studies set up to monitor results. The use of prescribed natural fire and timber harvests also afford considerable opportunity to improve wildlife habitat.