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s 

333.9516 

U8ela 

1993 



ELKHORNS LANDSCAPE ANALYSIS 

DOCUMENTATION 



STATE DOCUMENTS COLLECTION 



MONTANA STATE LIBRARY. 

1515 E. 6th AVE. 
HELENA, MONTANA 59620 





COOPERATIVE MANAGEMENT AREA 






AUG 4 2004 



MONTANA STATE LIBRARY 



3 0864 0015 6889 1 



Elkhorn Landscape Analysis 
Supplements and/or Amendments 



Date Title Abstract 



1. July 6, 1993 Approval Page A one page signature sheet is appended in the 

front of the document. The desired condition 
statements from the "parent" document were 
sent to the unit managers of the Elkhorns (as 
per the MOU). This sheet signifies their approval 
and willingness to implement these desired con- 
ditions. 



•/C' 



ELKHORN LANDSCAPE ANALYSIS FINAL DOCUMENT 
APPROVED BY : 

J^try W§flS Date 

Region^ Supervisor, FWP 

A JZu„ L d*7)r MliM 

Dennis Hart / Dat^ 

Helena District Ranger 








Merle Good Date 

BLM Headwaters Area Manager 



Grant Godbolt Date 

Jefferson District Ranger 

George Wefdon Date 

Townsend District Ranger 



ELKHORNS 

LANDSCAPE ANALYSIS 

DOCUMENTATION 



An Integrated Resource Analysis with emphasis on Ecosystem 

Management 

To be used within the Elkhorn Cooperative Management Area, 

Elkhorn Mountains, Montana 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 



OVERVIEW 

TABLE OF CONTENTS 

PART1: 

I ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 1 

II INTRODUCTION 3 

A. Background Information 3 

FIGURE 1 (Elkhorn Cooperative Management Area Map) 

B. Why do a Landscape Analysis? 3 

C. How and when the analysis was accomplished 4 

D. Definitions of Geographic Areas 4 

FIGURE 2 (Implementation Areas) 

E. Amendment or Supplement of this Document 5 

F. The Components of Part 1 5 

III METHODOLOGY: 9 STEP PROCESS OF LANDSCAPE ANALYSIS 5 

IV PREHISTORIC LANDSCAPE DEVELOPMENT 8 

A. Geology 8 

B. Soils 9 

C. Climate 10 

V CLASSIFICATION SYSTEMS ~ 11 

A. Introduction 11 

FIGURES 3-6 (LTA's, ELU's, MA's, MU's) 

B. Soils and Site Potential 11 

C. Landtype Association Descriptions 12 

VI NATURAL PROCESSES 17 

A. Introduction 17 

B. Watershed Processes 17 

C. Vegetation Changing Processes 20 

FIGURE 7 (Generalized Fire Groups) 

VII ECOLOGICAL LANDSCAPE UNITS 27 



A. Ecological Landscape Unit 1 27 

B. Ecological Landscape Unit 2 27 

C. Ecological Landscape Unit 3 27 

D. Ecological Landscape Unit 4 28 

VIII MAN IN THE ELKHORNS -- HISTORY 28 

A. Prehistory 28 

B. Native Americans 29 

C. Euro-Americans 30 

1 . Trapping 30 

2. Mining 30 

3. Mining Water Developments 31 

4. Roads 31 

5. Townsites 32 

6. Agriculture 32 

7. Timber Harvest 33 

8. Administration 33 

FIGURE 8-9 (Warm Springs Fire; Timber Harvest Units) 

9. Urban Development 35 

IX MAN'S EFFECTS ON THE LANDSCAPE 35 



PART 2: 



NATURAL RESOURCES -- RANGE OF NATURAL VARIATION, EXISTING CONDITIONS . 
AND DESIRED CONDITIONS 40 

A. Introduction 40 

B. Soils 40 

1. Range of Natural Variation 41 

2. Existing Condition 41 

3. Forest Plan/RMP -- Desired Condition 43 

4. Management Direction 43 

C. Water 43 

1 . Range of Natural Variation 44 

2. Existing Condition 48 

3. Forest Plan/RMP - Desired Condition 49 

4. Management Direction 50 

D. Vegetation 51 

1. Introduction 51 

FIGURE 10 (Landtype Aggregates) 

2. Ecological Landscape Units 54 

a. ELU 1 54 

b. ELU 2 59 

c. ELU 3 63 

d. ELU 4 68 

E. Fisheries 

1 . Range of Natural Variation 74 

2. Existing Condition 74 

3. Forest Plan/RMP — uesired wonuition • ^ 

4. Management Direction 76 



Wildlife 76 

1. Range of Natural Variation 77 

2. Existing Condition 83 

3. Forest Plan/RMP -- Desired Condition 94 

4. Management Direction 95 



PART 3: 

XI SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC CONSIDERATIONS 96 

A. Introduction 96 

B. Livestock Grazing Allotments 96 

C. Minerals 97 

D. Timber 98 

E. Lands 98 

F. Recreation 98 

1 . Existing Condition 99 

a. Introduction 99 

b. Recreation Opportunity Spectrum 99 

FIGURE 1 1 (ROS Map) 

c. Characteristics of Elkhorn Users 101 

d. Special Features and Setting 101 

e. Recreational Activities 102 

f. Use Conflicts and Concerns 105 

2. Desired Condition 1 05 

3. Management Direction 107 

G. Transportation Systems 108 

1. Existing Condition 108 

a. Roads 108 

FIGURE 12 (Major Roads in the Elkhorns) 

b. Trails 109 

FIGURE 13 (Trails in the Elkhorns) 

2. Desired Condition 110 

3. Management Direction 110 

H. Visual Quality 1 11 

1. Existing Condition 112 

2. Desired Condition 113 

3. Management Direction 113 

I. Special Uses 1 14 



PART 4: 

XII INTEGRATED DESIRED CONDITION 115 

A. Introduction 115 

B. Individual Resource Desired Conditions 115 

C. Conflict Identification 1 1 8 

D. Conflict Resolution 1 19 

E. Painting the Desired Condition Picture 120 



XIII LAND MANAGEMENT PU\N MONITORING AND EVALUATION 132 

A. Introduction 132 

B. Forest-wide Direction 132 

1. Standards and Guidelines 132 

2. Assumptions 132 

C. Overall Elkhorn Landscape 133 

1. Forest Service Lands 133 

a. Management Direction 133 

b. General Management 133 

c. Management Areas 134 

d. Monitoring 138 

2. Bureau of Land Management 139 

a. Guidance Common to All MU's 139 

b. Management Units 140 



XIV APPENDICES 143 

APPENDIX A: Assumptions 143 

APPENDIX B: Climate Data 144 

APPENDIX C: LTA Characteristics 149 

APPENDIX D: Grass shrub Habitat Types 152 

APPENDIX E: Riparian Aggregate Descriptions 154 

APPENDIX F: Big Game Tabular Information 156 

APPENDIX G: Information on Individual Furbearers 165 

APPENDIX H: Breeding Bird Survey and Small Mammal Trapping 169 

APPENDIX I: Recreation Opportunity Spectrum 176 

APPENDIX J: Visual Management System 178 

APPENDIX K: Common and Scientific Plant and Animal Names 180 

APPENDIX L: ELU Summary Tables 182 

APPENDIX M: Glossary 183 

APPENDIX N: References Cited and Bibliography 204 



OVERVIEW 

Elkhorn Landscape Analysis 

Ecosystem Management: A New Approach to an Old Philosophy 

Resource managers have long held close the belief that the land should be managed in such a way that 
the protection of all resources is ensured. Within the past few years, however, it has become clear that 
National Forest management is out of balance with the natural landscape. A common thread in our past 
management has been to look for maximum yields while ignoring the natural processes that might have 
taken place without man's interference. While the National Forest Management Act of 1976 directed the 
Forest Service to provide for diversity, a large number of environmental documents were developed that 
did little to explain just how we intended to ensure diverse ecosystems. 

Through this re-evaluation, a new approach to land management has been adopted by all Forests within 
the National Forest system. This approach, which seeks to implement Forest Plans while ensuring resource 
sustainability, is called Ecosystem Management. In the past, managers proposed actions to meet specific 
objectives such as providing timber volume. While the effects of harvesting timber were disclosed in an 
environmental document, there was no provision for understanding the effect of that harvest on the overall 
landscape and its ability to function in balance. Under the concepts of ecosystem management, land 
managers look at a broad area, or landscape, and develop projects and actions that will mimic the natural 
balance and patterns of that area. These actions might include timber harvest, prescribed burning, stream 
rehabilitation and/or removal of unnecessary structures. The main difference between this approach and 
the previous one is that outputs such as timber volume are a "by-product" of the actions taken to ensure 
the present and future health of soils, water, and vegetation. If these basic resources are conserved, then 
wildlife, recreation, and economic outputs such as timber and forage, will be sustainable over time. 

The Elkhorn Landscape Analysis: an Integrated Resource Analysis 
with Emphasis on Ecosystem Management Principles. 

The Elkhorns Landscape Analysis was recently completed by a team of natural resource specialists from 
two land management agencies in conjunction with the State Fish and Wildlife agency. This analysis 
develops a long-term integrated program of work which follows from the direction established in Land 
Management Plans for the Elkhorns. In addition, much like a puzzle is incomplete until the last piece is in 
place, this analysis documents how the pieces of the landscape work together and interact to provide the 
water, food, and shelter for thousands of wildlife species and for man's enjoyment and economic benefit. 

In order to draw a picture of a functional ecosystem for the Elkhorn Mountains, the analysis reconstructs 
the structure, composition, and patterns of a "natural" landscape. This is the interaction of soil, water, fire, 
vegetation, wildlife, and Native Amehcans, prior to 1860 when European settlers arrived in the area. By 
examining these interactions, the resource team was able to recreate the range of conditions that may have 
occurred in the Elkhorns prior to man's interference. By then examining the existing status of the resources 
in the Elkhorns, the team was able to make recommendations on activities that are believed to promote 
the long term health of the soil, water, and vegetation resources. 

Tracking the Past, Understanding the Present, Predicting the Future 

The prehistoric condition of the Elkhorns was characterized by the interaction of processes such as fire, 
weather, grazing animals, and insect and disease agents. These processes in turn provided the soil, water, 
and vegetation patterns to which the wildlife species and humans adapted. 

The arrival of European settlers was associated with trapping and mining activities. Since this arrival in 
about 1860, major changes have occurred on the Elkhorn landscape. Some of these changes were 
brought about by the suppression of fire, which was commonly used to "cleanse" the forest by Native 
Americans; intensive grazing practises; conversions of native grasslands to croplands and irrigated 
pastures; and the disruption of the land by mining and logging activities. These practises resulted in the 
loss of grasslands and native prairie habitats; the loss of some kinds of plant communities (eg. willow 



bottoms); changes in the water cycles; erosion of and reduced productivity of soils; and the elimination 
of some key wildlife species and/or their habitats. 

Some changes such as the conversion of native grasslands to hayfields, other croplands, towns, and the 
Canyon Ferry Reservoir, are outside the control of public land managers. However, other changes which 
may have been detrimental can be corrected. 

The overall direction for the Forest Service portion of the area is an emphasis on wildlife and recreation. 
The analysis provided some additional management direction. For example, processes like fire will be 
restored as much as possible. This will help to recycle soil nutrients, restore the more open parklike 
conditions of some forested areas, and convert areas overgrown by "woody' vegetation back to productive 
grassland ecosystems. In turn, these areas will provide for wildlife species that depend on the "natural" 
conditions. Other management direction includes the restoration of streamside or riparian areas by better 
management of livestock grazing and the ^introduction of beaver. Areas with localized pollution or soil 
erosion from past mining activities will be corrected. "Special* plant communities such as aspen stands, 
ponderosa pine old growth forest, mountain mahogany, and bitterbrush will be revitalized. Native fish and 
wildlife species such as cutthroat trout and bighorn sheep may be reintroduced into the Elkhorns. We will 
continue to provide secure habitat for big game species during the hunting season. Recreation activities 
which don't require developed facilities, such as hiking, driving, and camping will continue to be available. 
In addition, signing and information will be provided in some areas to help interpret special features of the 
Elkhorns and direct recreational users. 

Some of the "outputs" of these activities may include timber, livestock forage, recreation visitor days, 
firewood, Christmas trees, elk for viewing and harvest, and other less tangible items such as pleasing 
scenery. 

Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Implementing the Analysis 

In order to carry forth management direction to "on-the-ground" reality, we will be prescribing management 
actions by watersheds. Starting with the Crow Creek area, we will be proposing a set of specific manage- 
ment actions which will help us achieve the direction in the analysis. These proposals will be put forth to 
the public to allow us to identify the issues that will be used to develop and examine management 
alternatives. The environmental effects of each alternative will be disclosed in an environmental assess- 
ment (EA). If a decision is made to go forth with the projects, the field work will occur over the next 5 years. 

Dynamic Ecosystems: Dynamic Document! 

The Elkhorns are dynamic and constantly changing. We expect that as we try to carry out our management 
direction, we will learn more about the resources and how they respond to management actions. Therefore, 
it is necessary that flexibility is built into the analysis. Even before the ink is dry on the document that houses 
the information from the analysis, we expect to be substituting better information and supplementing with 
new information. To facilitate this, the document will be in a 3-ring binder notebook. While only a limited 
number of these will be available to enable fast and efficient updating, these documents will be found at 
public libraries in Townsend, Helena, Boulder, and Whitehall. Furthermore, several copies will be available 
at the Townsend Ranger District for 2 week check out periods. 



I. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 

The success of this analysis is owed to the cooperation and tremendous team efforts of the Elkhorn 'core 
ID team". These members, representing a variety of disiplines, were called upon to look more broadly than 
their specialty at the entire structure and function of the Elkhorn landscape. What happened during this 
•growth of perspective" was the development of mutual respect and trust among these individuals. Only 
then, was this group of people, who came together to accomplish a common purpose, truly able to operate 
as a team". 

In addition, this process could not have been completed without the undampened support of the line and 
staff officers involved. They kicked many of the rocks out of the way and continually supported the team 
and the process. Thanks go to George Weldon, Townsend District Ranger, Mesia Nyman and Dennis Hart, 
Helena District, Grant Godbolt, Jefferson District, Merle Good, BLM Headwaters Area Manager, Jerry Wells, 
FWP Region 8 Supervisor, and Jim Guest, Resources Staff Officer. 

The core team members included: 

Lois Olsen, Range Conservationist; ID team leader/writer, vegetation 

Jodie Canfield, Elkhorn Coordinator: facilitator/wrfter/editor, wildlife 

John Vore, Research Assistant, MT Fish Wildlife and Parks; wildlife 

Vinita Shea, Range Conservationist, BLM; vegetation and allotments 

Terry Eccles, Recreation Planner, BLM; recreation 

Cathy Maynard, Soil Scientist, FS; landtype associations, soils, vegetation 

Sam Gilbert, Zone Sirvacutturist, FS; forest vegetation 

Kurt Cuneo, Range Conservationist, FS; vegetation and allotments 

Shelley Douthett, Range Conservationist, FS; vegetation and allotments 

Jean Lavell, Wildlife Biologist, FS; wildlife 

Dave Larsen, Fire Management Officer, FS; fire and vegetation 

Beth Ihle, Geologist, FS; climate, historic accounts, watershed, minerals 

In addition to the core team, thanks is owed to the following substantial contributors: 
Art Howell, Land Management Planning; Forest Plan interpretation 
Ann Sullivan, Range Technician; GIS 
Marie Dunlap, Forestry Technician; GIS 

Tom Carlsen, Wildlife Biologist, MT Fish, Wildlife and Parks; wildlife 
Rae Ellen Moore, Landscape Architect, FS; visual quality and recreation 
Jack Jones, Recreation Forester, FS; recreation and trails 
Dave Payne, Recreation Forester, FS; recreation and trails 
Charlie McKenna, Transportation Planner, FS; transportation (roads) 
Diane Johnson, Range Technician, FS; noxious weeds 
Len Walch, Fisheries Biologist, FS; fisheries 
Gary Fairchild, Forest Archaeologist, FS; climate, history of man 
Frank Russell, Fire Management Officer, FS; fire history 
Dennis Milburn, Fire Management, FS; fire and vegetation 
Betsy Follman, Wildlife Biologist, FS; wildlife 
Ron Roginske, Recreation Forester, FS; reviewer (recreation) 
Mike Oliver, Public Affairs Team Leader, FS; public involvement strategy 
Maggie Pittman, Public Affairs Specialist, FS; document summary 
Dwight Chambers, Special Projects Coordinator, FS; methodology 
Larry Laing, Soil Scientist, FS; landtype associations and soils 
Larry Rau, Wildlife Biologist, BLM; wildlife 
Bill Weatherly, Geologist, BLM; mining history and minerals 
Brad Rixford, Recreation Planner, BLM; recreation and transportation 
Robert Rodman, Realty Specialist, BLM; National Guard firing range 
E. Susie Williams, Realty Specialist, BLM; lands 
W. Rick Schwabel, Supervisory Range Conservationist, BLM; allotments 
Paul Peek, GIS Coordinator, BLM 
Richard Perrimsn, Forest Archaeologist, Fo; history of man 

1 



Kathy Bulchis, Forest Wildlife Biologist, FS; wildlife 
Karol Zuback, Automation Clerk, FS; office publishing 
Jeanne Plummer, Clerk typist, FS; typing 

Special thanks goes to those SES coordinators in the Regional Office of the Forest Service who time and 
time again came through to help the team and lead this team analysis over many hurdles. Those individuals 
included, Jack Losensky, Wendell Hann, Jim Morrison, Fred Sampson, and Martin Prather. 



Part 1 
II. INTRODUCTION 

Summary: 

This chapter of the document provides background information on the evolving management of the 
Elkhorn Mountains to their present day status as a Wildlife Management Unit; and the management 
relationship between the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, the Montana Department of Fish, 
Wildlife and Parks and private land owners under the Cooperative Management Area Memorandum of 
Understanding (MOU). This chapter also provides the basis for conducting a landscape analysis as a 
method for establishing management actions that sustain ecological systems and conserve biodiversity 
in the Elkhorns. The Elkhorn landscape analysis follows Region 1 direction for managing ecosystems. The 
information provided in this analysis will form the basis for all future management actions for a given area 
in the Elkhorn Mountains. The analysis is broken into two geographic levels; a landscape analysis as the 
broadest level and implementation areas as smaller, more specific areas. 

A. Background Information 

The Elkhorn Wildlife Management Unit was created by a U.S. Forest Service administrative recommenda- 
tion in 1981. This recommendation followed previous management of the area under a Multiple Use 
Management Plan (USDA - FS 1964), and an Elkhorn Unit Land Use Plan (1976). This latter plan, while 
recognizing high wildlife values in the Elkhorns, also allowed for mining and timber harvest in previously 
unroaded portions of the mountain range. Public opposition precipitated a congressional hearing on the 
Elkhorns; from that hearing, Congressman Melcher introduced legislation that directed the Forest Service 
to evaluate approximately one-half of the Elkhorn Mountains for possible wilderness designation (Crowley 
1984). A wilderness study was conducted and the draft Report and EIS released in 1978 recommended 
inclusion of 25,000 acres into the wilderness preservation system. While there was substantial public 
opposition to the draft recommendation over wilderness designation, there was general agreement that 
the special wildlife values of the Elkhorns should be recognized and retained. Due in part to the vision of 
Assistant Secretary of Agriculture, Ruppert Cutler, the final Report (1982) established all Forest Service 
lands in the Elkhorns as a special Wildlife Management Unit (WMU). The Elkhorn WMU represents a unique 
administrative designation within the Forest Service (Crowley 1984). 

Located southeast of Helena, Montana, the Elkhorn Mountains include portions of the Helena and Deer- 
lodge National Forests.about 160,000 acres, as well as a substantial acreage of Bureau of Land Manage- 
ment (BLM) lands and private lands (about 40,000 acres). As part of the Forest Plan direction for the 
Elkhorns, a partnership with Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MDFWP) was established 
to provide cooperation in the management and monitoring of wildlife. BLM lands are managed under a 
multiple use Resource Management Plan (RMP). However, in June, 1992, a Memorandum of Understand- 
ing (MOU) was signed by all of the above agencies, signifying a cooperative management relationship on 
all public lands in the Elkhorns. This MOU defines an area of private, BLM, and Forest lands called the 
Elkhorn Cooperative Management Area (Figure 1). The goals of the MOU include managing the Elkhorns 
as an ecologicaJ unit, providing for consistent policies and standards, and establishing and maintaining 
communication channels across the political land boundaries. 

While the Elkhorn Mountains are somewhat typical of mountain ranges surrounded by valleys, found east 
of the Continental Divide, the inherent diversity in geologic formation, climate, soils, and topography in the 
Elkhorns supports a wide variety of flora and fauna. In addition, the Elkhorns are unique in having a 
substantial portion of lower elevation grass and shrublands in public ownership. Public land provides range 
for approximately 70% of the elk wintering in the Elkhorns (Vore and DeSimone 1992). 

B. Why do a Landscape Analysis? 

The purpose of the Elkhorn landscape analysis was to establish integrated resource management direc- 
tion that would also result in sustained ecological systems and the conservation of biodiversity. This 
required estimating the range of physical and biological conditions that occurred prior to European man's 
activities in the Elkhorn Mountains. The value in establishing the natural variability is based on the 



assumption that if our communities are similar to the natural communities, then conditions are similar to 
those species evolved with. Therefore, management which seeks to mimic those 'natural" conditions will 
help conserve a full complement of plant and animal species (USDA - FS 1992). 

The information provided in this analysis will guide all future management actions in the Elkhorns. At the 
level of the landscape analysis, general management direction and desired conditions are outlined. That 
direction is compared to the specific existing conditions found in the Implementation Areas. Relative to 
project proposals, this comparison is the basis for the "purpose and need" statement and the "proposed 
action". The landscape analysis also provides the framework for understanding and documenting environ- 
mental effects and cumulative effects. It also enables such large scale issues such as biological corridors 
and fragmentation to be examined within the context of NEPA documentation. 

The Elkhorn Landscape analysis follows the Regional direction for managing ecosystems (EM). The 
Regional program provides a basis for management activities that sustain the ecosystems from which 
multiple uses and values are derived (USDA - FS 1992). This approach also provides for consideration of 
ecological system composition, structure, and function at a broad geographic scale. 

C. How and when the analysis was accomplished 

The Elkhorn landscape analysis was initiated in November 1991. Much of the work was completed by a 
core interdisiplinary team (ID team). This team conducted individual research and field work followed by 
a series of facilitated meetings. First, natural ecosystem patterns were determined. The assumptions made 
in determining these patterns are documented in Appendix A. Next, desired condition was formulated from 
a collaboration of the natural patterns and the desired human uses and values. From this determination, 
the existing condition was compared to the desired condition, and management direction for reaching 
desired conditions was developed. Cumulative effects, or conflicts arising between social and "natural" 
values, were resolved through a tradeoffs analysis within the interdisciplinary setting. The ID team complet- 
ed the analysis in May, 1992. 

A first draft of the document was put forth for review by all the participating agencies in July, 1 992. A second 
draft, which incorporated reviewer comments and additional team input, was completed in December, 
1 992. This document incorporates the comments from a team review of the second draft. While it is called 
a final" version, the philosophy of the analysis allows for continual updating and supplementation of the 
information. 

D. Definitions of Geographic Areas 

This analysis looked at 2 geographic levels. At a broad level, processes, patterns, and historic events that 
apply generally to the entire mountain range were examined and described for the Helena Forest portion 
of the Elkhorns and the adjacent BLM lands on the eastern side of the mountain range. That broad level 
analysis is hereafter referred to as the "Elkhorn Landscape Analysis'. While ideally, this landscape 
analysis would include the Deerlodge Forest and additional BLM lands within the Elkhorn Mountains, the 
decision was made to add those landscape "pieces" to the analysis at a later date. 

Once the broad analysis was completed, the overall landscape was broken into 3 smaller portions. These 
smaller geographic areas are hereafter referred to as geographic "Implementation areas'. The 3 Imple- 
mentation Areas are depicted in Figure 2. The Crow Creek Implementation Area analysis was completed 
following the overall landscape analysis. The 2 remaining analysis areas are the North Elkhorns and the 
South Elkhorns, which are scheduled for completion in 1993 and 1994, respectively. 

Within the Crow Creek Implementation Area on the eastern flank of the Elkhorns, existing conditions were 
described as specifically as possible for each resource. These more specific descriptions were then 
compared to the overall landscape desired conditions. This resulted in a set of management opportunities. 
Where sufficient information was available, specific proposed actions were listed that would implement the 
management opportunity within the Crow Implementation Area. Where data was lacking, an integrated 
data collection strategy was outlined. Finally, to aid in scheduling projects, a program of work was devised 
based on a prioritization scheme designed within each management opportunity. 






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E. Amendment or Supplement of This Document 

This document is intended to be dynamic and continually updated as new or better information becomes 
available. Therefore, a limited number of copies (16) of this final document are available. This will enable 
effective, efficient updating and supplementation of information. These copies are located at the following 
places: Townsend Ranger District, Helena Ranger District, Jefferson Ranger District, Helena Supervisor's 
Office, Deerlodge Supervisor's Office, Region 1 Office (Missoula), BLM District Office in Butte, FWP Region 
8 Office, FWP Townsend Office, Boulder Work Center, and Libraries in Helena, Townsend, Whitehall, and 
Boulder. In addition, 2 copies may be checked out from the Townsend Ranger District by contacting the 
Elkhorn Coordinator at (406) 266-3425. These copies are available for 2 week periods. 

Amendments or supplemental information will be inserted in the documents if that information aids in the 
understanding and/or implementation of the Desired Conditions on the landscape. At the front of each 
document, a list of amendments and/or supplements, and including an abstract and a date, will appear 
on colored paper. Proposed amendments and supplements must be approved by the Elkhorn Ranger and 
other unit managers before their addition to the final document. The Managers themselves are responsible 
for the copy of the final document residing on their units. In this regard, unit managers will initial and file 
amendments. 

F. The Components of Part 1 

The objective of Part 1 is to provide the necessary background for understanding the range of natural 
variation, determining the existing conditions, and the feasiblity, both socially and economically, of chang- 
ing the existing situation. In addition to the introduction, Part 1 of the document provides information on 
the methodology and tasks used to complete the analysis. This is followed by a summary of the prehis- 
toric landscape development, and an explanation of the classification systems used to describe the 
landscape. Landtype associations provide the basic unit of description. Natural processes are then 
described. The combination of landform and process provides the basis for delineating 'ecological 
landscape units" or ELU's. Following brief descriptions of the ELU's, the history of man in the Elkhorns 
is portrayed in an attempt to understand how man has interacted with and changed the landscape. 

III. METHODOLOGY: THE 9 STEP PROCESS OF LANDSCAPE ANALYSIS 

Summary: 

This chapter of the document provides information on the step by step process and logic used to complete 
integrated resource analysis with emphasis on ecosystem management. These 9 steps were developed 
in conjunction with "Our Approach" Region I Desk Reference, Forest Service Handbook 5109.34 (Ecosys- 
tem Management), and by completing the Elkhorn Landscape Analysis. As presented here, they represent 
modifications we made as we learned from this analysis. These 9 steps will guide future landscape 
analyses on the Helena National Forest. 

A. STEP 1 : Identify the land mass. Determine the primary biological resources and social considerations 
to be discussed in the analysis. Next, identify a logical landscape within which those resources can be 
described. Some landscape features which are valuable in delineating the landscape include major 
watersheds (4th or 5th order), topography (eg. an isolated mountain range), geologic breaks, wildlife use 
patterns, and/or major recreation uses. 

B. STEP 2: Develop Ecological Landscape Units (ELU). ELU's are hierarchical units which are used to 
identify geographically and functionally connected ecosystems. Those ecosystems have predictable 
responses to natural processes. Natural is defined as the processes which occurred on the landscape 
prior to the influence of European man. The influence of Native Americans are considered part of the 
natural processes. Other natural processes include fire, erosion, insects, diseases, nutrient cycling, and 
herbivory. ELU boundaries are determined by the interaction of landscape features, local climatic regimes 
and natural processes. 



There are several tasks involved with this step. Task one: Landtype associations (LTA) must be delineat- 
ed and described. LTA's are physical landscape units which determine or interact with ecosystem process- 
es and biological responses. LTA's are groupings of landtypes having similar bedrock geology, geomor- 
phic influence (landscape forming processes), broad climatic breaks, landform, landscape position and 
habitat type groups. Landtypes have been mapped and described through the Land Systems Inventory 
process. LTA's are developed by grouping landtypes which meet the above criteria and display repeatable 
patterns where they are encountered on the landscape. 

Task two: Determine which processes most influence the flora and fauna on the landscape and describe 
them. Examples of processes include climate, soil development, erosion and deposition, insects and 
diseases, fire, and herbivory. 

Task three: Integrate the products of task one and two to develop the ELU boundaries. At a broad scale, 
natural processes and the resulting vegetative patterns are relatively easy to delineate and characterize. 
It is important to stay at a broad scale during this step. 

C. STEP 3: Identify available tools which can be used to describe the primary resources identified in Step 
1. 

Tools include landtype association descriptions, historic accounts and photos, range survey maps (vege- 
tation maps developed during the early 1900's), early aerial photography, existing data bases, and 
literature. It is important to keep a broad, landscape perspective at this stage. 

The Forest Plan should be consulted during this step. Participants in the landscape analysis should be 
familiar with the Forest Plan itself, as well as the EIS, appendices and individual resource assumptions 
which were used to develop the Forest Plan. 

The Timber Stand Management Record System and Forest Plan and soils data bases, ecodata information, 
and physiographic/demographic surveys can also be valuable both for delineating Landtype Associations 
as well as describing resources. 

Although Forest Reserve Reports (early historic accounts written when the Reserves were created) have 
been shown to contain information valuable in understanding the landscape, no reports have been found 
to date for the Helena National Forest. 

D. STEP 4: Describe the range of natural variation for each ELU. The range of natural variation is a 
description of the biotic and abiotic expression which is a result of natural processes operating on the 
landscape. The full range of natural variation would include any conditions which could occur on a given 
landscape over a defined period of time apart from the influences of European man. The time frame for 
the purposes of the analysis is relatively narrow, and reflects the conditions created by processes such 
as fire which were cyclical and occurred relatively frequently. Natural ranges for soils, watersheds, vegeta- 
tion, and fish and wildlife resources are all described during this step. 

Task 1 : Highlight certain resources as being important, and/or as needing more specific information. This 
entails the identification of the most 'influential' resources and further definition of the relationships that 
need to be discussed in the range of natural variation. In doing this, we also identify the parameters used 
to define the range. 

Task 2: Define parameters. The parameters should be measured in percentages, and as ranges. Actual 
acreages or population numbers may not be meaningful, and can be misleading at the landscape level. 
For example, it may be stated that grasslands occupied 1 0-35% of the landscape under natural conditions. 

Task 3: Identify the timeframes to be discussed. For geologic events, the discussion will cover thousands 
of years. For biotic resources, like wildlife and vegetation, a narrower timeframe is necessary for better 
accuracy. 

This overall approach is called a "coarse filter approach" to conservation of biological diversity. The coarse 
filter approach assumes that if vegetative communities and their processes are similar to those occurring 



naturally, then conditions are similar to those under which species have evolved, and the full complement 
of species will persist. It is important that we recognize that our management strategies will only mimic the 
natural macro-environment, and that we do not understand all the implications to the micro-environment. 
As new information is gained in this regard, it will be incorporated into completed analyses. 

E. STEP 5: Describe existing condition. Existing condition should relate to the ELU boundaries and 
Forest Plan Management Areas. The level of specificity described by each resource for existing condition 
may vary. Data needs/gaps should be identified during the existing condition phase. 

Existing conditions are described not only for the resources, but also for social/economic concerns such 
as livestock allotments and minerals activities. 

In describing existing conditions, Forest Plan forest-wide and management area goals, standards, guide- 
lines, and assumptions must be understood for the analysis area. If possible, the parameters used to 
describe existing condition should include those used in the Forest Plan. This is important because the 
existing condition should be described in the same terms used to describe desired condition (DC). If the 
parameters used in the Forest Plan are no longer appropriate for describing the resources, this should be 
noted and new parameters identified. 

F. STEP 6: Develop desired condition. The DC must take into account the Forest Plan goals, objectives, 
standards, guides and outputs, and must also consider the capability of the land to meet the standards 
and guides or produce those outputs. The range of natural variation is the logical place to begin analyzing 
the Forest Plan desired future condition. The range of natural variation may not apply to some resources 
such as recreation. The Forest Plan DFC or some social/economic force may present a case for a Desired 
Condition which falls outside of the natural range. If so, it is necessary to document the tradeoffs in terms 
of resource sustainability. Due to man's influence, a resource may also have a different site potential than 
it had historically. In that case the existing condition should have revealed this, and the DC should address 
the new condition. 

At this point the assumptions used in the Forest Plan should be validated. Part of the validation is assessing 
the sufficiency of the assumptions. If new assumptions are needed, it should be documented why, and 
what the effects of the new assumption will be. 

The timeframe addressed in the statements describing the desired conditions represents about the next 
fifty years. The ultimate desired condition goal is to promote sustainable management of resources over 
time. The statements need to be specific enough to quantify and interpret Forest Plan direction, but not 
so specific as to eliminate decision space, or management flexibility. Management area boundaries are 
used to discuss the Forest Plan Desired Future Condition. 

During this step, necessary amendments or changes to the Forest Plan are recommended. While these 
may be changes or additions to standards and guidelines, site specific amendments may also need 
consideration. A site specific amendment would be needed if it were determined that Forest Plan outputs 
from an area are simply not possible on a sustained yield basis. 

DC statements should be developed for all •major" biotic, abiotic and social resources in an area. 

G. STEP 7: Identify Implementation areas. At this point, it may be appropriate to move from the landscape 
level to a more site specific area at which the DC can be implemented. This step may not be necessary 
if ELU's are at a scale appropriate to propose site specific treatments. 

Implementation areas are smaller units of land within the landscape analysis area where treatments will 
be applied to achieve the integrated DC. They should be defined by watershed boundaries, generally 3rd 
or 4th order. Some other boundaries such as elk herd units and LTA's may also be useful. The watershed 
is assumed to be the area within which specific cumulative effects on water quality and yield can become 
limiting factors. 

Although size may not be the most important factor, the implementation areas identified to date range from 
30,000 acres to 40,000 acres. 



H. STEP 8: Identify management opportunities within the implementation areas. The purpose of develop- 
ing management opportunities is to identify actions that move toward the desired conditions from the 
existing conditions. 

Management opportunities are generated from a comparison of the existing condition with the desired 
condition for all DC goal and objective statments. If there is a difference between the two, a management 
opportunity should be the action needed to bring the existing condition closer to the desired condition. 

Development of management opportunities is a brainstorming session which includes identification of all 
possible tools and actions that would implement the opportunity. It also identities stipulations and mitiga- 
tions, time frames, any prior requirements or data needs, social and economic relative costs, and any site 
specific prioritization factors. Lastly, if no additional data collection is needed, specific proposals can be 
recommended. This is a very important step which ties the analysis together and sets the stage for the "end 
products' of the analysis. 

I. STEP 9: Products of the analysis. The results of the analysis include an integrated data collection 
schedule, a recommended schedule for the outyear program of work, and a monitoring program for a given 
implementation area. Additionally, products could include one or more Forest Plan amendments. 

The program of work is developed by selecting the management opportunities which achieve the highest 
priority DCs (unless the line officer identifies different criteria for developing the program). The program 
of work takes into account timing of related opportunities and the available workforce needed to accom- 
plish the practices. Due to parameters outside the control of the analysis, such as annual budgets, the 
recommended program of work may need to be adjusted each year. The data collection plan is derived 
from the management opportunities which require additional information before implementation is possi- 
ble. The specific level of data collection needed and how to collect that information are also identified in 
the data collection plan. 

The initial NFMA process and analysis is complete at this time and ft is appropriate to move into NEPA. 
It must be recognized that the landscape analysis process is never really complete, and should be viewed 
as an evolving analysis. The results of each step is documented in writing and may be signed off on by 
the appropriate line officer(s). However, the information is housed in a notebook such that updates, 
changes, and supplemental information can easily be incorporated over time. This package can be 
referenced during the identification of an annual program of work; to identify purpose and need and 
proposed actions in NEPA; and to help describe environomentaJ effects and cumulative effects in NEPA. 

IV. PREHISTORIC LANDSCAPE DEVELOPMENT 

Summary: 

This chapter of the document provides a look at the elements that made up the preshistoric landscape 
including geology, soils and climate. The development of the Elkhorn Mountains spans over a billion 
years. The Elkhorns are a result of mountain building and erosional events. Much of the formation and 
development of Elkhorn soils occurred during the last 10,000 years. Ten periods of climatic change have 
been identified that characterize conditions from 14,000 years ago to the present. Brief descriptions of 
these penods are listed. 

A. Geology (from C. Maynard) 

The geologic story of the Elkhorn Mountains is a history that spans over a billion years. The Elkhorn 
Mountains were a part of mountain building and erosional events that affected the entire western portion 
of the North American continent. 

Scientists believe that the North American continent a billion years ago was much smaller in size, was 
strangely different in appearance, and was located close to the equator. The continent itself was a flat, arid 
and probably lifeless landmass. This landmass slowly eroded and its rivers poured sediment into the 
adjacent ocean. While erosion was occurring on land, about 600 million years ago varied and abundant 

8 



Iifeforms began to develop in the ocean. Animals with bi-valved shells called brachiopods emerged; 
extensive reefs of coral grew readily in the warm waters; and early crustaceans (trilobites) swam near the 
ocean floor. Living things that died in the ocean added their bodies to the increasing thickness of 
sedimentary material on the ocean shelf. Layers of sand, silt, clay and lime mud accumulated to a thickness 
of many thousands of feet onto the subsiding sea floor. Gradually the sedimentary material became rock 
layers; sand became sandstone and quartzite, silt and clay deposits were transformed into siltstone, shale 
and argillite, and lime mud precipitate turned to limestone. By approximately 250 million years ago, the first 
primitive land plants had become established. 

During most of this time, large parts of Montana were slightly below sea level. Those areas accumulated 
deposits of sediment thousands of feet thick. Parts of Montana were above water in the form of low islands 
or coastal plains (Lowell 1957). About 200 million years ago, the basic stability which characterized the 
western margin of the continent was disrupted by mountain-building events. Portions of Montana were 
uplifted as a result. Approximately 70 million years ago, the development of the Rocky Mountains began. 
Sedimentary rock layers buckled and fractured due to tremendous forces from the west, leading to the 
development of "overthrusf style mountains which characterize the eastern ranges of the Rockies. 
Through these mountain building events, most of Montana was lifted above the surface of the ocean. 

Development of the Elkhorn Mountains began as part of the Rocky Mountains. Folded and faulted 
sedimentary rocks are distinctive features of the Elkhorns on the eastern and southern flanks of the range. 
However, the deformed sedimentary rocks of most of the rest of the range are not evident at the surface. 
In these portions of the Elkhorns, a large-scale magmatic event has buried or obscured the sedimentary 
rocks. This magmatic event started approximately 60 million years ago where enormous volumes of molten 
lava spewed from volcanoes to cover the Elkhorn Mountains. Seeps and springs are numerous in the 
volcanic rock areas because of their inherent fractured nature. Erosive forces were operating concurrently 
with the eruption of the volcanic material. Extensive erosion of the vocanic rocks has exposed the solidified 
magma bodies that fed the volcanoes. These v old' magma bodies are now granitic type rocks and they 
are found primarily in the northwestern portion of the mountain range. Because of the erosive nature of 
the granitic rock layer in the Elkhorns, the drainage pattern in the northwestern portion of the area (Warm 
Springs and McClellan watersheds) developed as a closely spaced, shallow, system with a dendritic or 
tree-branching pattern. 

The most recent, major landscape forming period has occurred over the last two million years. During this 
period, the climate of the Northern Hemisphere cooled and led to the Nee Age". A great ice sheet 
developed in Canada and covered much of North America. In mountainous areas such as the Elkhorns, 
glaciers formed in the upper reaches of the drainage basins and then moved downhill into the valleys. The 
glaciers advanced and retreated several times during the four major periods of the Ice Age. This advance- 
retreat process altered the stream patterns in the Elkhorns (Alden 1932). Small glaciers also gouged into 
the sides of mountains and created deep, bowl-shaped depressions called cirques. In the Elkhorns, these 
cirques now contain small lakes called Mams' which include Glenwood, Tizer and Hidden Lakes. The 
retreating glaciers also deposited ridges of rock and gravel in the drainages called moraines. The hum- 
mocky topography and numerous seeps in the center of the Elkhorns (Tizer Basin) are due to the moraines 
which underlie the area. Melting water at the edge of the glaciers also carried silt and gravel, which were 
deposited in valley bottoms, most notably in Crow, South Fork Crow, and Prickly Pear Creeks. 

B. Soils 

Much of the formation and development of soils that are present today in the Elkhorns occurred during 
the last 10,000 years since the glacial era. Over 75% of the Elkhorns includes soils developed from the 
volcanic and sedimentary rocks. Approximately 20% of the soils in the Elkhorns, mostly on the northwest- 
ern flank, developed from granitic rocks. A portion of the present day Elkhorns is a complex of mountain 
ridges, talus slopes, rubble and forested scree that have little or no developed soil. These areas are 
interspersed with marginally developed soils formed from the rocks ground by the action of ice (glacial till). 

Soil types found in the Elkhorns include Inceptisols (about 45%), Alfisols (about 26%), Mollisols (about 
22%), Entisols (about 6%), and Histosols (less than 1%). Soils of the Inceptisol order, representative of 
youthful geologic surfaces, predominate in the Elkhorns. 



Inceptisols are soils of limited development and correspond with the extensive areas of forested scree or 
locations with high rock content. The more highly developed soils in the Elkhoms are those found in the 
mid-elevation grasslands and shrublands. These are soils of the Mollisol order which formed where the 
incorporation of organic material was the dominant soil-forming process. 

Mollisols contain at least 1% organic matter (0.6% organic carbon) in the surface horizon. Frequent, low 
intensity fires assisted in the formation process of mollic soils by mineralizing organic biomass (eg. the ash 
from burned vegetation) in the upper soil horizon. The type of mollic soil development evident in the 
grassland/shrubland areas and on some of the upland slopes, ridges and parks, indicates that these 
portions of the landscape formed under predominantly grass or grasslike vegetation for hundreds of years. 

Alfisols, or typical forest soils, are characterized by more strongly developed clay horizons than are found 
in the grassland soils. These soils are also quite fertile. While Alfisols are generally less developed in 
structure and depth relative to Mollisols, they too may support both grass/shrub and forest vegetation 
types and are capable of similar biomass production. 

Like Inceptisols, Entisols are also found in the upper elevation talus slopes where soils are extremely 
shallow to bedrock. There are also found in locations formed from granitic parent material where soils are 
sandy textured and prone to erosion and in riparian areas on recent alluvial deposits. 

Histosols have formed in depressions and moist areas where biomass production and organic matter 
accumulations are high. 

C. Climate (from B. Ihle and G. Fairchild) 

Climatologists have attempted to reconstruct periods of climatic change through time on both global and 
local scales. One sequence of climatic change from about 14,000 years ago to the present has been 
developed from a variety of sources including fossil pollen. This sequence, though largely derived from 
continent-wide climate information, is offered as a indication of the variability in climate regimes that 
occurred in the Elkhorns over the past 1 4,000 years. Brief descriptions of periods of climatic change follow. 
More detailed descriptions are found in Appendix B. 

1) Late Glacial: (14,000-10,000 years before present) - The period at the close of the Pleistocene, 
or ice age; continental and mountain glaciers advancing and retreating, colder, wetter climate. 

2) Pre-boreal: (1 0,000-9,300 BP) - Warming period; possible development of grasslands replacing 
spruce forests. 

3) Boreal: (9,300-8490 BP) - Climate more continental-like and drier; grasslands replacing some fir 
forests. 

4) Atlantic: (8490-5,060 BP) - Warmer than present; possibly wetter, with more grasslands, pon- 
derosa pine, and Douglas fir occupying what are now cool, subalpine habitats. 

5) Sub-boreal: (5,060-2,760 BP) - Cool and moist, pine replacing Douglas fir; increase of whitebark 
pine. 

6) Sub-atlantic: (2,760-1 ,680 BP) - More moist; pine species peak. 

7) Scandic: (1,680-1,260 BP) - Warmer and drier; pine decreased and grasses increased. 

8) Neo-atlantic: (1,260-850 BP) - Brief period; continued warm, but with more moisture; sagebrush 
peaked. 

9) Pacific: (850-450 BP) - Drier period 

10) Neo-boreal: (450-100 BP) - Little Ice Age; conditions colder and moister; timberline was lower 



than present. 



10 



V. CLASSIFICATION SYSTEMS 

Summary: 

This chapter of the document introduces classification systems that are used to describe the ecosystem. 
Landtype associations are used to describe the 'pieces' of the whole landscape. Eleven different landtype 
associations have been identified for the Elkhorn Mountains. Landtypes are areas defined as a mapping 
unit that have consistent repeatable landform features, geologic parent material, soils and potential 
vegetation components. Landtype associations are groupings of landtypes having similar characteristics. 
The descriptions of landtype associations attempt to create a representation of landscape conditions that 
were present before the influence of European settlers. 

Landtype associations are grouped into ecological landscape units (ELU's) for the purpose of comparing 
the 'natural' landscape with the existing landscape. Four different ecological landscape units form the 
basis for the desired condition descriptions of the natural resources considered in this analysis. Forest Plan 
and Resource Management Plan Management Areas and Units, respectively, are smaller than ELU's and 
offer a way to describe the social and economic forces that influence management of the Elkhorns. 

This chapter also discusses site potential. Site potential refers to the range of biological capability inherent 
to any given location based on the relationship between the soils and the vegetation. 

A. Introduction 

At any scale, the composition, structure and function of ecosystems are extremely complex. Resources do 
not exist alone, but rather are interrelated and integrated at different levels in the system. To describe these 
relationships and the resulting composition of the landscape, we refer to a variety of interrelated classifica- 
tion systems. Among these are watersheds; landtypes and landtype associations; ecological landscape 
units; habitat types and habitat type groups; and fire groups. 

The first two of these (watersheds and landtypes) initially focus on landform. Reliance on landform as the 
primary classification tool is sound in that the landform is the slowest changing and most conservative 
landscape element. It provides the stage on which the more changeable players-surface climate, biotic 
community, and soil-wax and wane as they act out their successional roles." (Rowe 1991). 

A landtype has been defined as a mapping unit with consistently repeatable landform features, geologic 
parent material, soils and potential vegetation components. Using the standards designated by USFS- 
Region 1 for Land Systems Inventory, 91 unique landtypes have been identified and mapped on the Helena 
National Forest. Within the Elkhorn landscape analysis, individual landtypes were grouped into eleven 
landtype associations (Figure 3). The landtype associations reflect landtypes with similar bedrock geol- 
ogy, landform, landscape positon and potential vegetative expression. These landtype associations were 
developed to provide (at a broad scale) physical reference to polygons that can be characterized by their 
interactions and biological responses to dominant ecosystem processes. 

To simplify the analysis for the purposes of comparing the ' natural' landscape with the existing landscape, 
and to relate the descriptions of natural and existing conditions to the management area direction found 
in Land Management Plans, the landtype associations were grouped into 4 large units. These units, called 
'ecological landscape units' or ELU's, form the basis for the desired condition descriptions of the natural 
resources considered in this analysis (Figure 4). Management Area* (Forest Plans) (Figure 5) and 
management units (BLM Resource Management Plans) (Figure 6) are generally smaller than the ELU's 
and offer a way to describe some of the social and economic forces that influence management of the 
Elkhorns. 

B. Soils and Site Potential 

Soil development is an extremely slow process, and therefore, considerations of geologic time frames are 
essential when discussing soil distribution patterns, stability and/or productivity. Because of these time 
frames, soil properties are assumed to have been relatively consistent in the Elkhorns for the period o? 
several hundred years prior to European influence (which we define as the range of natural variation). The 

11 



soil and vegetation conditions reflected on the landscape for that period of time correspond with what we 
now refer to as "site potential'. Site potential on the landscape is described within the 1 1 landtype 
associations. 

As used in this document, site potential is a term that refers to the range of biological capability inherent 
to any given location based on the relationship between the soils and the vegetation. For example, a given 
site may be capable, based on the soils and other factors, of producing both grasses and/or Douglas fir. 
However, the actual vegetation found on that site may be limited to grass for several hundred years due 
to the influences of fire, grazing, and climatic conditions. 

A summary of the landtype associations follow. The descriptions attempt to create a representation of 
landscape conditions that were present in the centuries prior to the influences of European settlers. They 
were derived from existing information and an understanding of ecosystem processes and how man has 
influenced those processes. Additional summary charts of the LTA's are found in Appendix C. 

C. Landtype Association Descriptions 

1. Landtype Association 1 

(Douglas fir forest/mountain grass and shrub habitat types-limestone dominated) 

Located in the southeast portion of the Elkhorn, this LTA makes up 5 % of the Helena portion of the Elkhorns 
and includes the Dahlman Gulch and Johnny Gulch watersheds. It encompasses an elevationaJ range of 
6200-7500 ft. and the dominant vegetation is classified in fire groups 12 and 4. 

Roughly 40% of LTA 1 is underlain by weakly developed soils. The dominant landforms are mountain 
slopes, dip slopes of less than 40% and mountain ridges. These landforms are underlain almost exclusively 
by limestone and calcareous sandstone, which has weathered to calcareous mollic and mollic-like soils 
of medium textures, 20-40 inches deep to bedrock, with 40-60% rock fragments. In this association the 
development of drainages has been reduced because of a decrease in surface runoff since the last ice 
age. The convex shape of ridge crests and shoulders was shaped during the ice ages. Creeping materials 
partially filled depressions and minor drainage bottoms to create smooth, rounded slope shapes. Roughly 
55% of the landscape in LTA 1 supports habitat types in the Douglas-fir series. Nearly 10% of the area is 
steep slopes (40-60%) with shallow soils, which support sub-alpine fir series habitat types on the northerly 
aspects. Rough fescue and big sagebrush sites occupy 35% of this association; nearly 20% of these sites 
are large contiguous grass/shrublands. 

The potential for riparian vegetation in LTA 1 is limited due to the dry nature of this portion of the landscape 
and the permeability of the parent material. Just under 5 miles of first order streams are found in the steep 
narrow draws that now drain these uplands. Historically the banks of these small streams would have been 
well vegetated with willow, dogwood, native forbs and grasses. Hydrologic features of this LTA suggest 
that less than 3% of this area may have supported riparian conditions in the time period prior to European 
influence. 

2. Landtype Association 2 

(Mountain grass and shrub habitat types-metasedimentary rock dominated) 

Located in the southeast portion of the Elkhorns, this LTA makes up 8 % of the Helena portion of the 
Elkhorns. It encompasses an elevational range of 5400-7500 ft. and includes the Sand Creek and Slim Sam 
watersheds. It is dominated by vegetation classified in Fire Groups 12 and 4. 

Mountain slopes with moderate gradients and rounded ridges are the dominant landforms of this associa- 
tion. Nearly 75% of LTA 2 is underlain by soils which have developed under grass/shrubland vegetation. 
Underlying the grass and shrubland vegetation are dark colored, loamy skeletal soils of moderate depths. 
Moderate and steeper gradient slopes with less developed forest soils comprise roughly 10% of this 
association and support the drier DougJas fir habitat types. These sites have medium textured soil surface 
horizons which contain 40-60% angular rock fragments. Subsoil clay accumulations are common through- 
out. Inclusions of breaklands, scree and rubble account for about 5% of LTA 2. These benches and 
breaklands have very weakly developed soils which support only scattered trees. 

12 



HELENA NATIONAL FOREST 
ELKHORN MOUNTAIN LANDTYPE ASSOCIATIONS 



V. 




FIGURE 3 



HELENA NATIONAL FOREST 
ELKHORN MOUNTAIN ECOLOGICAL LANDSCAPE 

UNITS 



i \ t 

SOLI 1 I OMO 




FIGURE 4 



Helena National Forest 
Forest Plan Management Areas 




Deerlodge National Forest 



kmi 1 i m« 



FIGURE 5 



BLM MANAGEMENT UNITS 
ELKHORN MOUNTAINS 




FIGURE 6 



Due to the significant number of known springs in LTA 2, (nearly 30% of all existing springs mapped in the 
Elkhorns), an important feature of it's Pre-European condition would have been numerous riparian mead- 
ows. The productivity of grass and grasslike vegetation would have been high in these areas and possibly 
exceeded 2,000 pounds of biomass per year. Based on the current distribution of the landtypes containing 
springs, it is estimated that up to 3% of this association may have supported riparian sites supporting 
deciduous tree and shrub communities or sedge meadows. Moist draws and springs would have had well 
vegetated banks with high organic matter accumulation sufficient to develop spongy textures with the 
capability of storing and gradually releasing water. Minor inclusions of organic soils of the Histisol order 
also developed in these locations where the wide valley bottoms and low gradients were favorable to 
beaver activity. 

3. Landtype Association 3 

(Douglas-fir, sub-alpine fir habitat types; metasedimentary rock dominated) 

Located in both the north and east of the Elkhorns, this LTA makes up 12 % of the Helena portion of the 
Elkhorns. It encompasses an elevational range of 4600-6800 ft. and includes the Antelope Creek, 
Staubach, North Pole Creek and Whitehorse watersheds. The dominant vegetation is classified in Fire 
Groups 6 and 7. 

About 30% of the slopes and ridges in LTA 3 have the potential to support grass/shrub habitat types. 
Dominated by mountain slopes and undissected convex ridges, the forested sites support mixed stands 
of Douglas-fir and lodgepole pine or sub-alpine fir and whitebark pine at the higher elevations. These 
forested sites occupy over 50% of this association, with 7% of the area being dominated by steep scree 
slopes. Numerous drainages support a variety of riparian vegetation ranging from spruce/bedstraw com- 
munity types to cottonwood, Douglas-fir communities. 

The volcanic rock material underlying most of this LTA has weathered to form moderately fine textured, 
forest soils with light colored surface horizons and high rock content. About 30% of this LTA supports soils 
that are very young and poorly developed. Some of the soils were influenced by volcanic ash deposits. 
Glacial landforms are found on about 4% of this LTA. These cirques and slopes have marginally developed 
soils that formed from glacial till. 

This LTA has the potential for numerous springs and seeps. The component landtypes that make up this 
LTA support nearly one third of the mapped springs within the 1 1 LTA's. As in LTA 2, potential vegetation 
for these riparian areas is largely a function of gradient. Areas of less than 3% gradient would have 
developed as grass/sedge meadows, while steeper locations would have been expected to support both 
shrubs and grasses. Due to their steepness, the higher elevation glaciated slopes with seeps would have 
been expected to develop thickets of alder, willow and other deciduous shrubs. 

There are two distinct stream riparian site potentials in this association. The most common occurs in 
narrow, steep canyons where conifers are the dominant vegetation form. In addition, aspen would have 
been present, as well as shrubs (similar to those described for LTA 2) and grasses, sedges, and forbs. In 
these situations, riparian vegetation would have been found in a fairly narrow band alongside the streams. 

At the higher elevations, extensive riparian zones existed in relation to the seeps common to those 
locations. Vegetation components of these areas included spruce interspersed with dense alder and 
willow. On slightly drier sites, dense stands of sedges and grasses would have been found. 

4. Landtype Association 4 

Located in the eastern portion of the Elkhorns, this association makes up 10 % of the Helena portion of 
the Elkhorns. It encompasses an elevational range of 5200-7200 ft. and includes the Crow Creek, Indian 
Creek, Kimber Gulch and West Fork Indian Creek watersheds. The vegetation is predominantly within Fire 
Group 12, with lesser amounts of Fire Groups 4 and 5. 

About 80% of LTA 4 has the potential to support grassland/shrubland vegetation. Grassland sites are 
generally large contiguous areas of rolling uplands. Grasslands in this association account for just over 
30% of the grass/shrub complex of the combined LTA's. Dominant soils of these rolling uplands havo dark 

13 



brown, cobbly loam surface layers about 10 inches thick over very cobbly clay loam subsoil. Subsoil clay 
accumulations occur in lower slope positions. Forest site potential, almost exclusively Douglas fir habitat 
types, is evident in 10-15% of the association. Soils of the upper slopes and ridges are shallower (4-20* 
to bedrock) and lack subsoil clay. Small inclusions (4%) of talus and rocky areas, with very shallow, 
marginally developed soils and the potential to support dry Douglas fir habitats break up the otherwise fairly 
homogenous physical landscape. Subalpine fir habitat types occur on a very limited basis on steep north 
slopes in this association. 

This LTA contains about 15% of the springs that have been mapped in the Elkhorns. Riparian potential in 
the vicinity of the springs would include conifers on the steeper, rockier sites, and tufted hairgrass and 
sedges where springs were underlain by mollic (dark organic) soils. 

Over 5% of LTA 4 has the potential for riparian vegetation. These range from the gravelly banks of Crow 
Creek to the fine textured alluvial deposits of Eagle basin. Conditions favorable to beaver activity occur 
throughout this portion of the Elkhorn landscape, and naturally-occurring beaver activity would have 
greatly influenced the riparian vegetation and depth to water table adjacent to the dams. 

5. Landtype Associations 5, 6, and 7: 

LTA'S 5, 6, and 7 occupy about 23% of the area, and occur on the western flank of the Elkhorn Mountains. 
These LTA's have limited potential for grass/shrubland (5%), and large areas of scree (18%). The Douglas 
fir habitat types dominate but ponderosa pine habitat types occur on about 6% of the lower elevation dry 
sites. Subalpine fir and spruce sites are found on about 20% of the area. The higher elevation areas in 
LTA'S 6 and 7 have large fields of rubble and scree. Both riparian and upland aspen are potentially found 
in these LTA's. Small inclusions of wet meadows are also found in locations underlain by glacial material. 

a. Landtype Association 5 

Located in the northwest portion of the Elkhorns, this LTA makes up 9 % of the Helena portion of the 
Elkhorns. It encompasses an elevational range of 4400-6100 ft. and includes the Strawberry Creek, and 
Maupin Creek watersheds. The vegetation includes Fire Groups 2, 4, 7, and 12. 

The landscape of association 5 is dominated (about 70%) by rolling uplands with straight to convex 
sideslopes and broad ridgetops. The area is underlain by coarse textured, sandy soils formed from granitic 
rocks. Large granitic boulders are scattered about on the surface. Due to the well-drained nature of sandy 
soils, on some sites the soil moisture is a limiting factor throughout much of the growing season. Ponderosa 
pine is potentially a dominant overstory component in this association. Aspen stands are associated with 
the deeper soils developing in draws and swales having seasonally high water. This LTA includes a mosaic 
of slopes and ridges of slightly different temperature/moisture conditions that include the potential for dry 
Douglas fir/bunchgrass and shrub vegetation. 

In general, a majority of the riparian sites within LTA 5 were probably maintained as willow/alder communi- 
ties with Douglas-fir, and at some of the lower elevations, cottonwood found in the overstory. 

b. Landtype Association 6 

Located in the western portion of the Elkhorns, this LTA makes up 1 2 % of the Helena portion of the 
Elkhorns. It encompasses an elevational range of 5000-7400 ft. and includes the McClellan Creek, and 
Dutchman Creek watersheds. The vegetation is classified in Fire Groups 4, 7 and 9. 

The dominant landforms in LTA 6 are rubble and talus slopes supporting scattered forest vegetation. Thirty 
percent of the area is scree. Over 60% of the area has the potential to support conifers, predominantly 
Douglas-fir and sub-alpine fir habitat types. Coarse textured soils of limited watemolding capacity with 
subsoil clay accumulations are common to these sites. The drier Douglas fir habitats are commonly slopes 
and ridges, although minor inclusions of rough fescue and bunchgrass sites occur. Subalpine fir habitat 
types are found on glaciated slopes and trough walls. Inclusions of moist north slopes and wet draws with 
the potential for spruce and sedge habitat types occupy 10% of LTA 6. Soils of moist sites are fine-loamy 
textured and have high water tables. Although the majority of this LTA is outside of the conditions favorable 



14 



for ponderosa pine habitat types, scattered Douglas-fir sites that were likely to have been maintained as 
Ponderosa pine stands do occur. 

The dominant riparian zones contained within LTA 6 are associated with the headwaters of small first and 
second order streams. The generally coarse textured soils (low water holding capacity) may have limited 
the development of riparian vegetation to narrow zones along the perimeter of the streams. It is likely that 
overstories of Douglas fir, juniper, Cottonwood, and aspen were present in the lower stream reaches. 
Willow, alder and dogwood shrub complexes with grass/forb/sedge understories were probably common 
along the upper reaches of streams. 

c. Landtype Association 7 

Located in the western portion of the Elkhorns, this LTA makes up 3 % of the Helena portion of the Elkhorns. 
It encompasses an elevational range of 5300-8600 ft. and includes the Prickly Pear Creek and Weimer 
Creek watersheds. The vegetation is classified as Fire Groups 7, 9, and 10. 

The dominant influence of glacial activity is evident in 35% of this association, where large boulders and 
limited growing sites predominate. Very shallow, marginally developed soils are associated with these 
glaciated sites. The slopes and ridges support primarily subalpine fir and whitebark pine habitat types. 
Scattered lodgepole pine were commonly maintained on these subalpine fir habitat sites. There are no 
grassland sites in this association, although Douglas fir/pinegrass and snowberry habitat types are found 
on 10-15% of the lower slopes. 

Riparian sites within LTA 7 are found along the margins and influence zone of Prickly Pear Creek. These 
locations have potential for shrub communities of willow and dogwood, possible inclusions of cottonwood, 
and Douglas fir. 

c. Landtype Association 8 

Located in the middle, high elevation portion of the Elkhorns (Casey, Crazy, High Peaks), this LTA makes 
up 23 % of the Helena portion of the Elkhorns. It encompasses an elevational range of 6000-8600 ft. and 
includes the upper portions of the Crow Creek watershed. The vegetation is classified almost exclusively 
Fire Group 10. 

LTA 8 represents the largest landtype association identified in the Elkhorns. Rubble, rock outcrop, and 
forested scree characterize this association. The majority of the sites with sufficient soil development to 
support conifer overstory are within the subalpine fir/whitebark pine habitat types. Soils of those locations 
have medium textured surface layers formed in volcanic ash-influenced loess deposits. Subsoil rock 
fragment contents are high. The glacial trough walls, headwalls and cirque basins that are the dominant 
landforms support scattered subalpine fir/whitebark pine and shrub sites in areas where shallow soils have 
formed in bedrock fractures and depressions. Margins of the cirque basin lakes support riparian vegetation 
generally dominated by sedge and tufted hairgrass habitat types. Where water tables have been held close 
to the surface by the compacted till beneath, and the landform is relatively stable.soils high in organic 
matter developed. Other riparian sites are found in cirque basins and near the headwaters of small streams. 
Spruce habitat types occur in minor inclusions of wet soils associated with seeps and springs. As a whole, 
the cold, rocky nature of this association suggests that very slow rates of decomposition and nutrient 
cycling occurred. Slow rates of growth and regeneration would also have been common to this portion of 
the landscape. 

6. Landtype Association 9 

Located in the southeast portion of the Elkhorns, this LTA makes up 7 % of the Helena portion of the 
Elkhorns. It encompasses an elevational range of 5400-7200 ft. and includes portions of the Crow Creek 
watershed. The dominant vegetation falls within Fire Groups 4, 7 and 12. 

This association represents a portion of the transition zone between the lower grassland/shrubland 
complex and the upper elevation subalpine zone. As such, a great diversity of vegetative sites occur within 
this association. Over 50% of the area is underlain by argillites, shales and siltites which have developed 
to moderately fine textured soils, 20-60' deep with calcareous subsoils. These locations generally suDport 

15 



Douglas fir/pinegrass and Douglas fir/snowberry habitat types. Inclusions of deeper, dark colored grass- 
land soils are found on about 1 5% of the ridges, where rough fescue and bluebunch wheatgrass sites were 
maintained. Steeper slopes of slightly higher elevations have less developed soils and exhibit the potential 
to support cool, moist subalpine fir habitat types. Lodgepole pine would be expected to have been 
maintained on a percentage of these moister sites. This associaion includes a component (15%) of 
toeslopes and basins developed on colluvial material, which have the potential for seeps and springs. 
These areas have medium to coarse textured soils with high rock fragment contents and would have been 
expected to support inclusions of riparian vegetation beneath both spruce and subalpine fir overstories. 
Rock outcrops and scree are scattered throughout this LTA. In general, a wide diversity of both upland and 
riparian sites comprise this association. 

7. Landtype Association 10 

Located in the northeast and central portions of the Elkhorns, this LTA makes up 7 % of the Helena portion 
of the Elkhorns. It encompasses an elevational range of 5800-7400 ft. and includes portions of the Beaver 
Creek and lower Crow Creek watersheds. The vegetation is predominately in Fire Groups 7 and 10. 

Glacial landforms dominate over half of LTA 1 0. In glaciated areas where stable soils have developed, soils 
are moderately coarse to medium textured with greater than 50% angular rock fragments. In general, soils 
are very thin, often with little or no subsoil development. A component of moist, subalpine fir potential sites 
are found at the higher elevations. Rock outcrops and rubble fields are common landscape features. In 
the portion of LTA 1 not previously occupied by glaciers, steep slopes (40-60%) with soils formed in 
windblown volcanic ash deposits are common. Less than 1 0% of the drier, lower elevation ridges express 
grassland site characterisics. These areas are underlain by medium to fine textured soils, 20-40* deep over 
bedrock, often with subsoil clay accumulations. Although only about 5% of this association, grassland 
parks are an important feature of the landscape in LTA 10. These natural openings average 50-100 acres 
in size and are presumed to be important elk carving locations. 

8. Landtype Association 1 1 

Located in the southeast portion of the Elkhorns (Limestones, Rattlesnake Creek), this LTA makes up 2 
% of the Helena Forest portion of the Elkhorns, and includes much of the BLM lands on the east side of 
the Elkhorns. It encompasses an elevational range of 4800-5600 ft. and includes portions of the Slim Sam 
watershed. The predominately grassland vegetation is classified in Fire Group 12. 

This association is dominated by BLM ownership. LTA 1 1 includes hilly to very steep uplands, forming a 
mosaic of smooth and round to sharp and narrow ridgetops and sideslopes with some steep-walled 
canyons. These are drained by a branching pattern of smooth, grassy channels. 

The alluvial fans which form the steeply sloping stony benches north of Crow Creek and west of the 
Missouri River are dominant landforms in this association. The soils of these locations contain high 
percentages of angular fragments of igneous and metamorphic rocks and rounded gravel. Parallel "hog- 
back* ridges make up the Limestone Hills that dominate this portion of the landscape. Also included are 
the benches between Indian Creek and Beaver Creek which range from 3800-4200 ft. in elevation and are 
25 ft. or more above the coulee beds. The dominant soils are shallow and well-drained, having weathered 
from argillite, limestone and igneous rocks that have moved downslope. They are characterized by loam 
surface horizons underlain by strongly calcareous subsoils. Most sites have low to moderate permeability 
with low waterholding capacity. Due to the low permeability, runoff is rapid and erosion hazard is high. 
Potential vegetation for areas within this association includes mid to short grass prairie types. Shrubs such 
as mountain mahogany potentially occupied up to 5% of the area, and conifers potentially occupied 
another 5%. 



16 



VI. NATURAL PROCESSES 

Summary: 

This chapter of the document describes the processes that have influenced the range of natural variation 
that in turn provided the evolutionary framework for the native organisms in the Elkhorns. Although these 
processes are interactive, they are categorized as either watershed or vegetation processes. Changes that 
occur as a result of these processes are "on-going" or "periodic 

Watershed processes include erosion and deposition, evapotranspiration, fire , soil development and 
flooding and earthquakes. Vegetation processes include herbivory, fire, insects and disease, and climate 
extremes. 

A. Introduction 

Over geologic time frames, major events such as mountain building, and processes such as glaciation, 
soil development, and climate change, have shaped the Elkhorns landscape we see today. And while the 
landscape in human time frames does not seem to change noticably, this landscape is very dynamic. 
These and c?ner processes are continually at work moving sediments, changing landforms, and shifting 
vegetation patterns. 

In the short term, natural variability in the Elkhorns can be characterized by natural disturbance regimes. 
A disturbance regime refers to the characteristic type, frequency, intensity, and duration of processes that 
alter vegetation and soil properties. All of the processes that operate in the Elkhorns are interactive. 
However, they generally can be categorized as either watershed or vegetation processes (or both as in 
the case of fire and climate). The changes that occur as a result of these processes can be either "on-going" 
or "periodic". The effects of on-going processes such as evapotranspiration, erosion and deposition, and 
herbivory, are subtle in nature in comparison to the effects of periodic events like fire, flooding, or 
earthquakes. Periodic events tend to produce dramatic changes in existing conditions. 

B. Watershed Processes 

Watershed processes include erosion and deposition, soil development, evapotranspiration, fire, flooding, 
and earthquakes. Watershed processes and their effects are closely related to bedrock geology, topogra- 
phy, climate, elevation, and drainage basin size. 

1. Erosion and Deposition 

The erosion and deposition of soils and sediment are ongoing processes at the mountain range and 
watershed scales. At the mountain range scale, erosion and deposition are functions of climate, vegetation, 
geology, and topography. In the absence of disturbance, the rate of soil delivery will conform to an 
equilibrium condition and a "geologically normal" rate of erosion will occurr (Dunne and Leopold, 1978). 
Although geologically normal rates of erosion occur, periodic events of catastrophic disturbance are also 
a "natural" part of the evolution of a landscape. In fact, the amount of erosion and deposition resulting from 
large-scale events occurring on an infrequent basis can be greater than the combined effects of the 
on-going erosive forces. Thus, the development of a landscape to its present condition is a function of both 
sporadic events and the incrementally small changes that occur •normally'. 

At the watershed scale, erosion and deposition occur in streams and upland areas as a function of the 
•wearing down" of a mountain range over time. These processes occur continuously in response to local 
changes in vegetation, bedrock and topography; and more regional changes in base level (lowest eleva- 
tion of downcutting), climate and geologic instability. Generally, erosion increases at a local scale in 
response to the alteration of vegetation (eg. fire, grazing). 

Average natural erosion rates (the susceptibility to breakdown by water) are distinctly different for areas 
of different parent materials. For example, natural erosion rates are highest in the granitics where soils are 
sandy textured and loosely aggregated (Table 1). These areas are especially susceptible to erosion in the 
event of vegetation removal by fire, flood, or other disturbance. Unconsolidated deposits of any parent 

17 



material (such as glacial till, alluvial deposits) are also highly susceptible to erosion rf vegetation is 
disturbed. Areas in the Elkhorns underlain by sedimentary rocks (eastern end) are also erosive, especially 
in areas where the soils formed from limestone. Much of the Elkhorns were formed from volcanics, which 
are the least susceptible of the three types of geologic parent material to erosion. 

Table 1. Differences by landtype association in average natural sedimentation rates (ANSR) and geologic 
erosion factors (GEF). LTA 5 is underlain mainly by granitic parent material. 



Landtype Association 


ANSR 


GEF 


1 
2 
3 
4 
5 
6 
7 
8 
9 
10 


2.0 
1.5 
1.7 
1.0 
3.0 
2.4 
2.0 
1.3 
1.7 
1.7 


.43 
.36 
.60 
.40 
.95 
.74 
.66 
.40 
.36 
.40 









While vegetative cover is the primary factor controlling rates of erosion, other factors also can play a role. 
For example, prolonged precipitation or a high snowpack year will result in saturated soils and stream- 
banks. This leads to naturally increased erosion rates, especially on poorly developed soils. Seasonally 
wet conditions also contribute to slumping and subsequent erosion of oversteepened slopes and deposits. 

2. Soil Development 

Soil development and distribution takes place over thousands of years as a result of the breakdown and 
deposition of rock particles and vegetation. Soil development is controlled by the climatic variables of 
precipitation and temperature which influence rates of erosion, chemical weathering and decomposition 
of organic matter. Because of these influences, soil accumulates very slowly over thousands of years. This 
timeframe is necessary to consider relative to any evaluation of soil productivity and/or soil stability. 

Much of the formation and development of the soils in the Elkhorns has occurred in the last 10,000 years 
or so since the last glacial period. In areas where the climate is more harsh and terrain more severe, only 
marginally developed soils (Inceptisols) and mineral soils with little or no development (Entisols) occur. In 
areas where terrain and climate are less severe, soils have become more well developed and the differ- 
ences between soils is reflected by the vegetation they support. 

Mollisols and Alflsols are different in part due to soil organisms. Soil organisms move more clay into the 
surface horizon in Alflsols than in Mollisols. Soil penetration by grassland root systems creates a sodform- 
ing effect that not only recycles nutrients very quickly and efficiently but also utilizes water in much the same 
way. The microclimate within soils is very different between forest and grassland/shrublands. In the 
grasslands, wind and sun cause more rapid evaporation from the surface of the soil along with rapid 
transpiration rates. Water is quickly absorbed into the organic humus of the soil and drawn into the root 
system. Because of this, subsurface soils in grassland/shrubland areas is dry. Trees, with much deeper 
rooting depths, are generally unable to compete for moisture in grasslands. Thus, grasslands are perpetu- 
ated over long periods of time. 

Histosols are organic soils that develop in locations where biomass production and organic accumulation 
are high. In the Elkhorns, these soils have developed in conjunction with low-gradient, non-stream riparian 
areas or in areas of past beaver activity. Because many decades of organic matter accumulation are 



18 



necessary for the development of a Histosol, sites where they occur represent landscape positions that 
have been relatively stable. 

3. Evapotransplratlon 

Evapotranspiration is the loss of water from the soil by both evaporation and transpiration through plant 
tissues. Soil structure and water holding capacity, interacting with the climatic variables of precipitation and 
solar radiation drive the on-going process of evapotranspiration. Evapotranspiration governs the amount 
of water that is ultimately available in the soil for vegetation, thus it is an important factor in determining 
the distribution of vegetation. 

In general, transpiration rates are higher for woody vegetation like trees and shrubs relative to grasses. 
Therefore, water yields are affected by the change in vegetation from either grasses to trees/shrubs or visa 
versa. However, this effect is tempered by the effect of shading from tree/shrub lifeforms on the rate and 
timing of snow mett and hence water yields. 

4. Climate 

The present climate of the Elkhorns can be described as a modified continental climate. The important 
factors that determine this climate include the frequent invasions of moist Pacific air masses, drainage of 
cool air into the Townsend Valley from the surrounding mountains, and the sheltering effect of the valley 
from the surrounding mountains. These elements in combination act to make temperature changes less 
than a true continental climate. The Elkhorn Mountains also act as a rain shadow for the Townsend- 
Missouri River valley. Precipitation in the area varies from an average of 1 1.1 1 inches in Townsend to 27.6 
inches at Tizer Basin (includes precipitation as snow). May and June are usually the wettest months, both 
in the mountains and in the valley. Infrequently, rain and maximum snowmelt coincide in the wet months 
of May and June and the result is flooding. During winter there are usually a few invasions of very cold arctic 
air which drop temperatures to well below zero for short periods of time. Temperatures vary dramatically 
between winter and summer seasons with January being the coldest month (19.9 F)and July being the 
warmest month (67.7 F). Average annual temperature is 43.3 F. 

Summers are characteristically warm and occasionally hot with temperatures rarely above 90 F. There is 
usually a marked change in temperature from day to night which is common in mountain climates. 
Thunderstorms are common during the months of May-August and may occasionally result in hail. Winters 
are characterized by extremes of temperature where mild periods with temperatures above freezing can 
be interrupted by cold waves with temperatures below zero. Cold air may be trapped in the valley by 
inversions while mountain temperatures remain more moderate. 

General climatic data for the Elkhorns can be summarized as follows. More specific information is found 
in Appendix B. 

Precipitation levels are highest in the mid-portion of the Elkhorns, less on the west side of the Elkhorns, 
and least on the east side of the Elkhorns. Precipitation levels have declined in the last 60-70 years. 
Precipitation cycles range from 3-22 years with a mean of 9.25 years. The most severe drought period 
occurred from 1929-1942. 

Temperature has remained fairly constant. Cycles of warm and cool periods range from 1 0-20 years. The 
coolest time period occurred from 1895-1920, and the warmest period occurred from 1920-1940. 

The prevailing wind direction is west to south west; 1 988 to the present reflects the windiest conditions on 
record. 

The Elkhorns have hundreds of lightning strikes each year, with more occurring on the west side of the 
range. About 5 strikes each year start fires which are supressed. Fire conditions (relating to low precipita- 
tion and warm temperatures) have occurred more frequently in the last 1 years than in any other 1 year 
period since 1887. 



19 



5. Fire 

Research conducted on forest habitat types similar to those found in the Elkhorns suggests that wildfires 
can account fo 25-50% of the long term erosion rates (Swanson et al. 1989). Accordingly, one of the most 
significant landscape-forming processes in mountainous areas east of the Continental Divide is the 
fire-erosion' process. This process occurs when a high intensity fire event is followed by a high intensity 
storm event. The results are the dissection of alluvial and soil materials over broad areas and stream/gully 
bottoms. The recurrence frequency of an event like this is the amount of time it takes for a mature forest 
to develop heavy fire fuels buildup (Sirucek 1986). 

The impacts of fire on soil properties and underground ecosystem components are a consequence of the 
amount of organic matter consumed, which in turn is largely determined by the intensity and duration of 
the fire. Wildfires of naturally-occurring intensity and duration would not have resulted in long-term detri- 
mental impacts to the physical and chemical properties of soils. The dry climatic conditions in the Elkhorns 
historically supported forest ecosystems with relatively slow decomposition rates. Under natural fire 
regimes, the mineralization of nutrients by fire promoted the recycling of nutrients necessary for maintain- 
ing long-term "site productivity*. As with fire-related erosion, fire-stimulated release of nutrients would have 
occurred in periodic pulses. When other conditions were favorable, this flush of nutrients would have also 
been accompanied by a change in composition of plant communities. 

6. Floods 

Floods are a recurring phenomenon in the Elkhorns area which have played an important role in the 
development and evolution of stream channels. The effect of floods under "natural" vegetation conditions 
is usually limited to streams, floodplains and gully bottoms. This Is in contrast to fire erosion events which 
affect upland areas as well. Floods in the Elkhorns and greater Helena area have resulted from high 
precipitation coinciding with spring snow runoff ~ generality during late May through June. Flood events 
may result in downcutting and alteration of streambanks, an increase in the flow of sediments, boulder and 
cobble flow on stream bottoms, deposition of debris jams in streams, and establishment of new stream 
channels. 

Localized flooding was influenced by beaver activities in the Elkhorns. Lewis and Clark found that this area 
teemed with beaver (Koch 1941), and estimates of the number and distribution of beaver prior to European 
arrival in North America include 60-400 million individuals with a geographic range of about 15 million 
square kilometers (Naiman et al. 1988). Although found in all aquatic habitats, beaver dams were most 
commonly found along lower gradient streams with ample deciduous plant material (aspen, cottonwood, 
willow, alder). Damming raised the water table of the local area and increased the effective width of the 
zone influenced by water, therefore increasing the amount of riparian vegetation. Dam-building changed 
the annual stream discharge regime, decreases current velocity, gave the channel gradient a stair-step 
profile, and increased the retention of sediment and organic matter (Naiman et al. 1988). 

7. Earthquakes 

As recently as 1925 and 1935, earthquakes occurred in the Elkhorns area. The earthquakes are believed 
to have occurred along north-south trending faults which parallel the basins on either side of the Elkhorns 
and in the Helena area. Results of these earthquakes included surface cracking, the drying up of Sixmile 
Creek east of Toston, drying up of springs, and sedimentation of some water wells (Lorenz and McMurtry 
1956). It is also likely that new springs resulted from these earthquakes. Earthquakes are believed to have 
also occurred in the more distant past; however, a recurrence rate is not known. Earthquakes have likely 
contributed to development of the Elkhorns landscape by setting off mass-wasting episodes on oversteep- 
ened, unstable slopes. 

C. Vegetation Changing Processes 

Natural processes that disturb or have disturbed vegetation in the Elkhorns are herbivory, fire, insects and 
disease and climate extremes. 



20 



1 Herbivory 

Herbivory is the process of animals consuming plant material as a source of energy. The grasses typically 
found in the Elkhorns have evolved over time in the presence of grazing animals. Prehistorically, this area 
supported herds of mastedons, mammoths, camels and horses (Fairchild 1 992). Bison, bighorn sheep, elk, 
deer, rabbits, and other rodents are the more recent herbivores in the Elkhorn ecosystem (Davis 1984 and 
Forbis and Sperry 1952). 

Plants in the Great Plains adapted to large herds of grazing ungulates by evolving compensatory mecha- 
nisms. These include underground reproductive systems that enable the plant to withstand removal of the 
seed heads and trampling (Mack and Thompson 1982), and the ability to change or redistribute energy 
stores and growth hormones. In addition, grazing increases plant productivity by allowing greater light 
penetration through a diminished canopy, removes tissues of the plant that are less productive but still 
require resources, and contributes nutrients to the soil in the form of feces and saliva (McNaughton 1 979). 

Some of the specific adaptations of plants to withstand herbivory include the evolution of multiple meris- 
tems (growing points), and continuous growth or regrowth of plant tissue during the growing season. After 
seeds are produced and ripen, many grasses enter dormancy until fall "green-up". This dormancy period 
functions to store carbohydrate reserves tor the winter. 

Herbivores seek out the green succulent parts of grass plants; some ungulates graze selectively while 
others, like bison and horses, tend to be less selective. Grazing operated as a cycle naturally. Generally, 
once an area was grazed, ungulates such as bison which had large home ranges, moved nomadically in 
response to variable local and regional rainfall patterns, allowing the the ground to periodically recover and 
regrow after intensive grazing bouts (Coughenour 1991). Where the range was not grazed, the grasses 
accumulated litter and became less appealing due to reduced palatibility and lower nutritive value. Areas 
of ungrazed grasses burned periodically, which removed the litter buildup and allowed for nutrient recy- 
cling. Subsequently, the range produced a flush of green succulent forage which attracted grazing 
animals, and the cycle continued. 

Prairie dogs were once important herbivores in the lower elevation grassland areas of the Elkhorns. The 
large prairie dog communities probably occurred in the Missouri River Valley, and smaller towns" occurred 
on relatively flat, open terrain in the foothills of the Elkhorns. These colonial animals grazed and burrowed 
in areas recently disturbed by bison. Their burrowing action served to mix and aerate the soil, which in turn 
accelerated soil development. The net result was a early successional (annual forb) community with very 
high nutritive values in spite of low total net production. This in turn provided an attraction for ungulates 
(Jaramillo and Detling 1988, Knowles 1986). 

Beaver clipping of trees and shrubs was also an important part of the herbivory process. Clipping of trees 
and shrubs for food and dams resulted in resprouting of these plants the following year which in turn 
provided young succulent forage for a variety of wildlife species. 

2. Fire 

Fire as a process has played an important role in determining vegetation composition and structure 
through periodic disturbance. As mentioned under watershed processes, fire also plays a role in determin- 
ing rates of soil erosion and sediment delivery. The impact of fire on vegetation composition and structure 
is influenced by the frequency and intensity of fire disturbance. These factors in turn are influenced by 
climate, slope, aspect, and fuel loadings. 

At the landscape level, fire effects were dynamic; that is, not every acre burned a the average intensity or 
frequency. Any given piece of land may have experienced more fire effects than "average"; on the other 
extreme, some locations may have escaped most fires due to micro-climatic conditions or even pure 
chance. 

The effect of fire can be categorized by major vegetation types known as fire groups' (Figure 7). Although 
fire groups paint the "average" picture of fire intensities and frequencies, the 'natural' role of fire (prior to 

21 



active suppression efforts) in the Elkhorns is assumed to be described by these groups (Pyne 1 982, Wright 
and Bailey 1982, and Fischer and Clayton 1983). 

Descriptions of the natural role of fire follow a sequence from high to low elevational vegetation categories. 
In addition to fire literature and field sampling of fire scars, other sources of information consulted included 
the timber stand inventory data base, land type inventory maps, historical range maps, historical photos, 
and several publications dealing with the history of the area (Gruell 1983, "Broadwater Bygones" (1977), 
and BLM "Historical Comparison Photography" 1984). 

a. Fire In Subalpine fir (Fire Groups 8, 9, and 10) 

The higher elevation subalpine habitat types that occur near timberline and above the "cold limits' of 
Douglas fir, lodgepole and limber pine, are classified as Fire Group 10. Due to harsh site conditions, 
understory vegetation is often sparse and trees often grow in groups or clumps within a matrix of open 
areas. Fire played little role here naturally, since lightening started ignitions were often put out by the 
accompanying rain. The sparse vegetation also precluded fire spread. A stand replacement fire on these 
sites would be the result of fires that started at lower elevations and which then spread to higher elevations 
by intense winds. 

Fire Groups 8 and 9 comprise the lower subalpine habitat types. These sites typically contain grasslike 
species such as beargrass, pinegrass, and elk sedge in the understory. Downed, dead woody fuel loading 
in these groups averages about 20 tons/acre once the stand reaches maturity. Maximum loadings however 
in older stands can greatly exceed this up to 1 00 tons/acre or more. Most of the dead woody fuel is greater 
than 3 inches in diameter although the most commmon diameter of dead downed material is 1 to 20 
inches. These sites when mature have multiple canopy layers, which create large amounts of "ladder fuels' 
(woody material at different heights allowing fire to climb into the next canopy layer) in the understory. 
These stands exhibit one of two possible fire scenarios. On most days of the year, fires in these stands 
will exhibit only a very limited ability to spread. The fire will smoulder in the duff and open flame is very 
unlikely. These fires may have caused considerable mortality on a very localized area by heating the 
shallow roots of the subalpine fir and spruce. During mid and late summer conditions when humidities and 
windspeeds are condusive to fire, fires in the subalpine groups can exhibit extreme 'holocaust* behavior. 
In this situation, fires replace entire stands in patches ranging from 500-1500 acres in size. It would not 
be uncommon for entire drainages, or several drainages to be 'consumed" in one single event. Subalpine 
fir has very thin bark and a growth form that includes branches low to the ground. Because of these 
attributes, subalpine fir does not survive even moderately intense fires. Following a stand-replacing event, 
it may be several hundred years for the stand to reach maturity again. 

b. Fire In 'cool' lodgepole sites (Fire Group 7) 

Lodgepole pine is considered a 'serai' species. That is, successful seedling establishment requires full 
sunlight and exposed soils. Without disturbance, other more shade tolerant species (like subalpine fir) 
eventually replace lodgepole. The literature predicts that fire return intervals in lodgepole stands range 
from 100 to 150 years and that these infrequent fires would be high intensity, stand replacement events. 
Given a fire return interval of 150 years, lodgepole could theoretically be maintained on a given site. 
Lodgepole has evolved specific adaptations to fire, including its ability to produce large amounts of seed 
in cones that are released by heat ('serotinous"). In addition, lodgepole seedlings thrive in the intense solar 
radiation and bare ground conditions which are found after a stand replacement fire. 

While it is commonly held that lodgepole pine is perpetuated by stand replacement type fires, underburns 
can also be common in some lodgepole sites at varying intervals. Several stands sampled in the Elkhorns 
had survived underburns (that is where lodgepole trees had fire scars). Although lodgepole has thin bark 
which does not protect the tree against moderately intense fire, it is possible for lodgepole to withstand 
very low intensity surface fires. It appears as though lodgepole in the Elkhorns typically did not survive more 
than two underburns, and that the fire return intervals for low intensity fires ranged from 16 years to 63 
years. Therefore, under a presettlement fire regime, some of these sites would have been dominated by 
larger, more open stand conditions of lodgepole pine with patches of seedlings and saplings interspersed 
with patches of mature trees. Because lodgepole is highly susceptible to attacks from pine beetle after it 



22 



ELKHORN GENERALIZED FIRE GROUPS 




FIGURE 7 



reaches about 1 inches in diameter, heavy fuel loadings from trees dying of pine beetle attack could have 
resulted in infrequent high intensity, stand replacement type fires in some areas. 

c. Fire In Douglas fir sites (Fire Groups 4, 5 and 6) 

Douglas fir habitat types where ponderosa pine usually coexists with Douglas fir are classified as Fire 
Group 4. These sites were dominated by ponderosa pine under natural fire frequencies of 5 to 25 years. 
Frequent, low intensity fires would be expected to periodically remove the Douglas fir understory and result 
in an open stand of larger diameter trees and a grass/shrub understory. 

The cool, dry, Douglas fir habitat types are classified as Fire Group 5. Douglas fir and some ponderosa 
pine would be maintained under natural fire frequencies of 30-40 years. This frequency is longer than Fire 
Group 4 due to the lighter fuel loadings on these relatively "harsher sites. These sites also would be 
frequented by low intensity underburns that would maintain open park-like groves of older trees. 

Moist Douglas fir habitat types are classified as Fire Group 6. Species on these sites can also include 
lodgepole pine or whitebark pine. The additional soil moisture on these sites would have tended to extend 
fire return intervals relative to dryer Douglas fir sites. This additional moisture would also have favored an 
understory dominated by shrubs and forbs. The better growing conditions would be expected to support 
more trees and varied size classes as well as dense understories. Snow breakage, blowdown, and insect 
and disease mortality all contribute to development of a deep duff (organic matter on the surface of the 
soil) layer and abundant downfall. Fire starts in these stands may smolder and creep around until 
conditions are favorable (wind, drought) for spread. Under favorable conditions, these periodic crown fires 
would create a more open stand structure temporarily. 

d. Fire in ponderosa pine (Fire Groups 2 and 3) 

Fire once played an important role in ponderosa pine stands. Ponderosa occurs primarily on the north and 
west side of the Elkhorn Mountains. Several characteristics of ponderosa pine allow it to survive low 
intensity fires. These include thick protective bark, branches occurring many feet above the ground on 
mature trees, and an arrangement of tree branches and needles such that heat will flow up through the 
tree and not be trapped within the canopy. Ponderosa sampled in the Elkhorns demonstrated a fire 
frequency pattern prior to 1 860 that ranged from 6 to 26 years. This supports existing literature which states 
that fire return intervals in ponderosa pine stands are often in the same range as grasslands, or about 5 
to 25 years. Fires in ponderosa stands typically had flame lengths in the 2 to 4 foot range. The effect of 
this kind of low intensity fire was to maintain an open ('savannah') stand dominated by large diameter trees 
that may have exceeded 200 to 300 years in age. Frequent fire thinned the number of seedlings, removed 
dense understory accumulations, perpetuated a grassland state under the pine by removing any woody 
understory species, and prepared a seedbed that encouraged ponderosa pine regeneration. Sampling in 
the Elkhorns indicated that under a natural fire regime, stands of 30 to 45 trees per acre in the 14 inch 
diameter class and larger, with as many as 60 trees in the 9 to 14 inch size class would be expected. Shrub 
species found in these areas (eg. chokecherry, spirea) have evolved the ability to regenerate through 
resprouting at the root crown or from rhizomes. This is considered an adaptation to a low intensity fire cycle. 

e. Fire In Limber Pine (Fire Group 1) 

Limber pine sites are the driest sites capable of growing trees, and typically support limber pine and 
juniper. Due to the dry conditions of the sites and the generally modest amount of vegetation available for 
combustion, the reported fire frequencies for this fire group are low. Limber pine colonization of serai grass 
and shrublands is a slow process related to the limited amount of soil moisture on these sites. The 
seedlings of limber pine, Douglas fir, and juniper are all highly suseptible to fire mortality. Therefore, at 
normal grassland fire frequencies of 5 to 25 years, little colonization would be expected to take place. Most 
of the limber pine and juniper sampled in the study area originated after 1 880. Very few trees older than 
1 00 years were found in the Elkhorns. This supports the theory that a frequent fire regime was present prior 
to settlement and that fire events precluded the successful, long-term colonization of conifers. 



23 



f. Fire In Grasslands and Shrublands (Fire Group 12) 

There are 2 types of grasslands. Those with the inherent potential to support grasslike vegetation are 
categorized as grassland habitat types. Those with the potential to support some level of occupation by 
conifers are usually classified as conifer (eg. Douglas fir) habitat types. In most cases, these drier conifer 
habitat types actually supported very few conifers due to the frequency of fire events which periodically 
removed any woody vegetation. Therefore, grasses and forbs predominated on many of the dry conifer 
habitat types. 

Unlike many tree species, most grasses are fire tolerant. Rough fescue and bluebunch wheatgrass have 
both highly developed root systems that store enough moisture to resist mortality from low intensity fire. 
In addition, bluebunch wheatgrass has short rhizomes that produce buds below the surface. This enables 
the plant to reproduce even when the surface canopy is destroyed by fire. This holds true for both spring 
and fall burns. Idaho fescue has a compact root crown area where the budding zone is confined to a 
relatively small area. These budding areas are at or above the surface of the ground, making plants much 
more susceptible than other grass species to higher intensity fire events, especially in the fall (Conrad and 
Poulton 1956). It is important to note that Idaho fescue plants which survive fires are highly competitive 
within the grassland/shrubland community. Following a fire, nutrient levels are high and therefore the 
germination environment is favorable. Idaho fescue exhibits some adaptation to fire in that the relatively 
low biomass production of these plants tend not to carry fires as readily as in communities dominated by 
plants with heavier canopies. Where Idaho fescue is mixed with other taller grass plants, fire tends to "skip" 
through the community resulting in a mosaic burn pattern. 

Sagebrush has low fire tolerance and is usually killed by the effects of both high temperatures and the 
actual burning of the plant materials. While some shrubs have varying degrees of tolerance and adaptation 
to fire, sagebrush plants are especially vulnerable because they do not have stored carbohydrates in the 
root system. As an example of adaptation to fire, some bitterbrush subspecies are able to sprout from the 
root system; however, it may take up to 10 years for resprouting to occur after a fire event. 

Grass species in the grass/shrub habitat types of the Elkhorns were typically maintained by frequent, low 
intensity fires( flamelengths less than 4 feet in length). In the absence of fire, and in relation to intensive 
grazing, shrub communities have developed on grassland sites (Gruell 1 986). Fire scar analysis of Douglas 
fir found in "protected microsites' (moist gulleys or swales) within the grasslands of the Elkhorns indicated 
a fire frequency of 20 years or less prior to active fire suppression. Based on literature, a frequency of 5 
to 25 years is expected and would result in a predominance of grasses with only small inclusions of conifers 
and shrub lifeforms. 

Besides determining the dominant lifeforms, fire modified the environment of the grasslands in many ways. 
The removal of litter allowed more solar radiation to penetrate the soil surface resulting in earlier warming 
of the soil in the spring (Ehrenreich 1 959). Nutrient release from accumulated litter may also have enhanced 
growth and the amount of nutrient accumulation in the new growth (Old 1969). Biomass production of 
grasses and shrubs typically doubled or tripled within 2-5 years following a burn due to the flush of nutrients 
released (Schwecke and Hann 1 988). Forbs may have predominated in burned areas for the first 1 -3 years 
following burning, but were eventually replaced by those grass and/or shrub species present before the 
burn. 

g. Fire in Rubble and Scree (Fire Group 0) 

Fire played a very limited role in areas of sparse vegetation such as talus slopes and rocky outcrops. Fire 
may have burned through rocky areas at intervals exceeding a hundred years due to the lack of continuous 
fuel of any kind. On occasion, a holocaust fire or severe wind driven fire removed any vegetation on these 
sites. When this happened, regrowth of these rocky sites was quite slow. Overall the influence of fire in 
rocky areas was limited. 



24 



3. Insects and Diseases 



a. Bark Beetles 



The various species of bark beetles are relatively specific to various species of conifers. Ips beetles attack 
ponderosa pine; mountain pine beetles attack lodgepole pine, ponderosa pine and whitebark pine; 
Douglas fir beetles attack Douglas fir. Most damage occurs in trees that are declining in vigor due to 
environmental stresses or age. Endemic or naturally occurring levels generally result in the mortality of only 
a few scattered trees or groups of trees. 

b. Western Spruce Budworm 

Spruce budworm is a defoliator that feeds on subalpine fir, Douglas fir and spruce; other species of conifers 
are relatively unaffected. Spruce budworm has occurred in epidemic proportions in many years since the 
1930's. Most Douglas fir in the area exhibit signs of damage. Multiple canopy layers are favorable for 
budworm damage. Budworms cause 'abortion' of cone crops and are an important factor in the long 
frequency between Douglas fir cone crops (7-11 years). 

c. Root and Stem Rots 

•Pini" rot of lodgepole pine, spruce, subalpine fir, Douglas fir and ponderosa pine stems and "Schweinitzii" 
rot of Douglas fir root and stems (sometimes in ponderosa pine stems) were probably the dominant 
disease species affecting trees in the Elkhoms. Impacts were primarily limited to trees with damage, such 
as fire scars, and to older trees. These diseases would have caused the heartwood of trees to be soft, in 
turn making the trees susceptible to windthrow or windbreakage. Redbelt fungus was a significant agent 
in decaying dead trees and stumps and was important for promoting nutrient recycling in forests. 

d. Grassland Insects 

Grasshoppers are the primary insect defoliator of grassland communities. They are always present in any 
given year, but populations cycle in epidemic proportions. The duration of a grasshopper epidemic is 
variable and can extend from 1 -3 years. Time frames appear to be determined by climatic variables that 
influence egg hatching and survival. Grasshoppers by themselves do not change the characteristics of the 
grasslands. However, during years of epidemic levels, they reduce biomass and seed production which 
in turn results in the loss of the soil organic matter and seedling production that those plants would have 
contributed. 

4. Climate Extremes 

a. Drought 

Drought is a climatic factor influencing the production and development of biomass, seed, and root 
systems, primarily in lower elevations and grasslands. Effects of drought are dependent on its severity and 
duration, and include a reduction in biomass production, a shorter flowering season, and a change in the 
time that plants go into dormancy to conserve water. Drought can also result in reduced plant vigor, lack 
of reproduction, or direct plan mortality. An indirect effect of drought results in the establishment of drought 
tolerant plant species in grassland areas. Both the size and composition of grassland areas are thought 
to experience fluctuations due to drought cycles. 

Since drought tends be cyclic but variable in length, the effects tend also to be variable. If the drought is 
short term (1-2 years), there may be a reduction in biomass production, a shorter growing season, and/or 
reduced regenerating capabilities in which rhizomatic activities do not take place or seed production and 
germination is delayed or absent. If the drought period extends for several years, short term effects are 
compounded by changes in the soil chemistry because no appreciable nutrient cycling is taking place. 
Prolonged drought causes the plant communities to become "stressed" and therefore creates favorable 
conditions for defoliating insects. If significant mortality takes place, drought can act to promote conditions 
favorable for fire ignition and spread. 



25 



Even in the event of a long term drought, grasslands may be able to maintain their integrity. This is primarily 
a function of the shallow diffuse root systems which grasses have evolved to take advantage of sporadic 
summer rains. These shallow roots allow capture of precipitation as it filters into the soil. In contrast, trees 
and shrubs, which have deeper root systems, rely on deeper infiltration depths in order to use soil moisture 
from precipitation. 

Drought seldom is severe enough to kill trees over extensive areas. However, it does kill trees that have 
extended into areas that are marginally suitable for trees. More importantly, drought conditions cause 
moisture stress on the trees and predispose them to damage from other forces such as fire and insects. 
Soil moisture is critical to the success of conifer seedling establishment. Douglas fir and ponderosa pine 
found east of the Continental Divide have developed a stronger ability than their westside counterparts to 
shut down their growth processes when moisture is limiting. 

In the forested areas, competition for soil moisture occurs between the various vegetative layers. This can 
be a significant factor in seedling establishment after disturbance. Once the seedlings do become estab- 
lished, there is a reduction in growth compared to areas where vegetative competition is less. As the tree 
canopy develops, growth in the understory layers are retarded by the lack of moisture and sunlight. 

The effects of generally declining precipitation levels in the past 60 years can be characterized as similar, 
but less intensive, than the effects of drought. 

b. Climate Injury/Redbelt 

Douglas fir is particularly susceptible to drought damage that occurs during the winter when warmer 
temperatures cause the trees to transpire, but frozen soil conditions make water unavailable to the tree. 
This condition generally occurs in midslope areas and has relatively distinct upper and lower elevational 
limits. True redbelt is nearly always a fatal condition. 

c. Cold Injury 

Winter injury can result from an abrupt drop in termperature following a relatively warm spell. In forested 
areas, individual trees may react differently to winter injury. 

Rapid drops in temperature can cause tissue damage in mature portions of trees. Ponderosa pine needles 
are very susceptible to cold, but the vegetative buds are quite resistant. Douglas fir buds are susceptible, 
but its needles are resistant to cold; however, the mechanism in Douglas fir is not as effective in relation 
to ponderosa pine, and damage probably occurs on a more frequent basis. Lodgepole pine needles and 
buds are both susceptible to cold injury and extensive mortality or top-kill can occur. 

Extremely cold weather, especially when conifers have higher amounts of water stored in the trunks, can 
split the trunk and cause a condition known as frost cracks. Frost cracks cause mechanical injury and 
makes the tree very susceptible to infection by heart rots. Subalpine fir is the tree species most affected 
by this condition. 

Late spring frosts can kill all or most of the new growth on conifer seedlings. Lodgepole pine is the most 
resistant species to this type of damage. This type of injury can result in periodic loss of annual growth, 
or if occurring in successive years, can result in death. 

Grasslands are usually not subject to cold injury because during periods of extreme cold, only dead 
material is exposed whereas the live roots are wholly underground. In contrast, shrubs do not go dormant 
and have photosynthesizing parts above ground during the winter that are exposed to winter conditions. 
While cold injury to shrubs is not a common or predictable event, much of the bitterbrush and some of the 
sagebrush in the Elkhorns experienced significant mortality in the winter of 1988. Much of the bitterbrush 
has begun to resprout from an unaffected root system, but parts or all of many sagebrush plants were 
killed. Cold injury, through its effect on shrub mortality, can influence the distribution and structure of shrub 
communities. 



26 



d. Blowdown 

Extreme wind events can affect individual trees as well as large expanses of forest. Trees uprooted by wind 
are referred to as 'blowdown* or "windthrow". Blowdown events tend to occur from strong winds coming 
from non-prevailing wind directions. Although more likely to occur on less protected topographic positions 
(eg. ridges, saddles), other factors such as tree species, depth of soil to bedrock, soil water level, and soil 
moisture also influence the susceptibility of individual stands to windthrow. Windthrow is more likely to 
occur in dense stands that have been opened up by timber harvest, insect mortality, fire, or other agents. 

Blowdown creates patches of dead and down materials that in turn influence fuel loadings and subsequent 
fire behavior. In addition, wind events are the primary factor influencing the rate and degree of downfall 
of fire-killed snags. Patches of blowdown in the Elkhorns can be found in the higher elevation stands in 
LTA's 7-10. 



VII. ECOLOGICAL LANDSCAPE UNITS 

Summary: 

Vegetation patterns and fire disturbance regimes related to potential vegetation and soil landform charac- 
teristics allow the delineation of large landscape units that can be characterized for the purpose of 
understanding the "range of natural variation". These four large units cover the Elkhorns and are called 
■ecological landscape units". 

A. Ecological Landscape Unit 1 

This unit consists of landtype associations 5 and 6 and is located in the northwest portion of the Elkhorn 
Mountains (see Figure 3). This area has higher precipitation levels than the east side of the Elkhorns, but 
lower precipitation than the "backbone" areas. It is unique because of the granitic-derived soils and the 
component of Douglas fir habitat types that support ponderosa pine. These occur predominantly in LTA 
5. This ELU has 30,302 acres or about 21 % of the Helena National Forest portion of the Elkhorns. Naturally 
occurring fires in the ponderosa pine areas of this ELU were low intensity, frequent events. Therefore, 
ponderosa pine and some Douglas fir stands were typically maintained as fairly open savannahs. Other 
areas (LTA 6) were occupied by lodgepole pine and may have experienced both underburning as well as 
stand replacement type fires. This area had an abundance of aspen and shrub species which are adapted 
to frequent fire (eg. resprout from the root crown or from rhizomes). 

B. Ecological Landscape Unit 2 

This unit consists of LTA's 7, 8, and 10, and is located in the middle to highest elevation portion of the 
Elkhorn Mountains (see Figure 3). This area has the highest precipitation in the mountain range (about 
30" annually) and is unique in that glaciation affected this portion of the landscape. This ELU has 47,669 
acres (34 % of the Helena portion) and is characterized by mainly forested vegetation that includes 
lodgepole pine, spruce, subalpine fir, whitebark pine, and Douglas fir. Naturally occurring fires in this ELU 
ranged from frequent, low intensity events to infrequent stand-replacement fires. Generally, fire was an 
infrequent but potentially severe influence in this unit. 

C. Ecological Landscape Unit 3 

This unit consists of LTA's 1 , 3, and 9, and includes several disjunct pieces on the landscape on the north, 
south, and east ends of the Elkhorn Mountains (see Figure 3). This ELU represents the transition areas 
between the drier grasslands and the more moist continuous conifer forests. The dominant vegetation is 
Douglas fir which exists interspersed with grassland parks. This ELU has 32,284 acres (23 % of the Helena 
portion). Naturally occurring fires in this ELU were low intensity, frequent underburns. Fire sizes here were 
probably limited to a given aspect at one time and seldom burned entire drainages as in ELU 2. 



27 



D. Ecological Landscape Unit 4 

Composed of LTA's 2, 4, and 1 1 , this ELU is found in the southeastern portion of the Elkhorns and includes 
a large portion of lands managed by BLM (see Figure 3). This is the driest ELU in the Elkhorns, receiving 
only about 11* of precipitation annually. Although mostly composed of grassland/shrubland communities, 
Douglas fir, juniper, and limber pine occur throughout ELU 4. Naturally occurring fires burned frequently 
in mosaic patterns here, allowing conifers and other woody species to survive only in swales, protected 
patches, and rocky areas. This is the ELU most influenced by the process of herbivory. There are 31 ,229 
acres in this unit, or 22 % of the Helena National Forest portion of the Elkhorns. 



VIII. MAN IN THE ELKHORNS - HISTORY 

Summary: 

This chapter of the document addresses man's influence on the Elkhorn landscape. It describes the 
relationships between humans and the Elkhorns from preshistoric periods through about 1 980. An under- 
standing how man influenced the environment helps paint the picture of both the 'natural* ecological 
patterns and the existing conditions on the landscape. 

A look at the history of man in the Elkhorns is broken out chronologically, beginning with prehistoric man. 
Native Americans inhabited the Elkhorns for over 500 years. Their lifestyles, values, technology and 
establishment contributed to the "natural" variability on the Elkhorn landscape. The influence of Europeans 
began with trappers. These individuals, who removed many of the beaver from mountain streams, were 
followed by miners and ranchers who influenced the area by building roads, harvesting timber, extracting 
minerals, developing settlements, and grazing domestic livestock. An indirect effect of Europeans included 
fire suppression, which together with other influences, has played a major role in determining the existing 
conditions. 

A. Prehistory 

Humans have long inhabited the Elkhorns and surrounding valleys. During the late Glacial Period, the 
narrow, ice-free corridor between the Continental glaciers from the North and mountain glaciers is thought 
to have extended along the Rocky Mountain Front from Lethbridge (Alberta) through the Helena Valley. 
This has important ramifications in regard to the theories involving Early Man in the America's. Current 
theories hold that prehistoric tribes could not have negotiated travel across the ice sheets themselves. 
Therefore any migration of man from Siberia, across a Beringia Land Bridge, and into the New World would 
have had to have been channeled along the ice-free corridor including, through the Helena, Montana 
valley. 

The late Glacial episode was the time of the Clovis and Folsom Hunters who made long, fluted spear points 
for use during hunting, with a throwing stick (called an "atlatl*). These hunters killed mammoths and 
mastodons, some horses and camels, and later large Bison (Bison antiquaas) . Small bands of males 
hunted and females augmented the diet by gathering wild, edible plants. 

Humans during the Boreal episodes were adapted to both open country with bison the game of choice 
("Piano"), and intermontane/mountain slope areas where they hunted rabbits, mice, fish, marmots, deer, 
and mountain sheep ("Pryor Stemmed"). 

During the late Atlantic episode, drought conditions are hypothesized to have elicited a movement of 
humans into higher elevations and to begin utilizing the full range of wild foodstuffs. As a result of drought, 
human use of the mountainous regions was initiated, and once there, humans remained a part of this 
ecosystem. This culture of hunting and gathering existed into the late prehistoric period and early historic 
period, although the weaponry and tools used varied. 



28 



B. Native Americans 

Native Indian tribes inhabited the Elkhorns at least seasonally for over 500 years. The naming of "Crow* 
and "Indian" Creeks gives testimony to this habitation. The Blackfeet tribe replaced the Flathead-Salish 
speakers in the area of Townsend and Helena in about 1650 AD. The Blackfeet appeared from Canada 
and had both guns and horses. They remained in this area until after the Lewis and Clark expedition. Other 
tribes would have passed through the area on route to bison hunts on the eastern plains. 

1. Lifestyle/Cultural Values 

The lifestyle of the Natives living in the vicinity of the Elkhorns was one of seasonal migration from the valley 
bottoms (Missouri) in the winter months, to the heads of mountain drainages in the summer. In the fall, 
generally a large part of the tribe would travel east to hunt the large herds of plains bison in order to store 
enough food for winter. The summer groups were small bands of extended family, and the total summer 
population in the Elkhorns probably never exceeded 100-200 people. The major drainages, like Crow 
Creek and Indian Creek were likely the major travel routes between summer and winter areas. 

There is evidence that the Native peoples had a strong spiritual relationship with the prey animals that 
sustained them. Evidence also suggests that they were very aware of birth cycles, both of humans and 
wildlife, and that female animals were never killed in the spring. Basically, these people viewed themselves 
as part of the food chain, not above the other animals. Large game animals were killed in the summer, with 
small game augmenting dried meat during winter months. 

Native Americans hunted moose, bison, bighorn sheep, marmots, cottontail, jackrabbits, rodents, deer and 
wolves 1 1 ,000 To 1 6,000 years ago in response to food and basic existence necessities. The acquisition 
of the horse and setting of fires were probably the greatest influences that Native Americans had on wildlife 
between 1600 and 1800. Plains Indians gained the use of horses in the 1600's and the mountain tribes 
aquired horses in about 1730 (McCabe 1982). The horse enabled tribes to travel greater distances in 
pursuit of game and increase the speed at which the pursuit would take place. The horse allowed the 
Indians to kill large amounts of game and transport game more efficiently. The increase in hunting 
technology caused hunted wildlife species to shift distribution patterns. Horse acquisition by Native 
Americans probably caused some or most of the decline of the Woods Bison (Meagher 1973). 

Fires set by Native Americans drew in game to the succulent regrowth. Native Americans knew that bison 
and elk were drawn to plant growths of burned over areas and, therefore, were handily hunted (Schmidt 
1978 and Allen 1967). Other grazing species also were attracted to areas where fire maintained an early 
successional stage of vegetative growth. Widely distributed and numerous herbivores supported a variety 
of predators. Mountain lions, wolves and raptors (including bald eagle) were predators common in the 
Elkhorns. Grizzly and black bears were common, and fed mostly on carrion and small or young ungulates. 
There is no indication that Native Americans trapped beaver in great number prior to white man's influence. 

2. Technology 

As previously mentioned, the Blackfeet had obtained guns from traders in Canada; they also had horses 
obtained from Canada. They travelled along well-developed trails that paralleled major drainages. In 
addition to guns, the Blackfeet used bow and arrow and spears for hunting. Possession of guns enabled 
the Blackfeet to successfully defend their territory from neighboring tribes. 

Evidence suggests that the Natives used fire extensively, both to communicate, and as a tool to manipulate 
vegetation (Knight 1989). There appears to have been fires set in all months except January, with peaks 
in the spring and fall. It is likely that fires were set mainly at low elevations (to improve grazing for horse 
herds and for small bands of bison). It is probable that most fires set by Natives were small in size, but later 
in the historical record, there is documentation by white men about Native-set fires "getting out of hand" 
(Fairchild, pers. commun). 

Natural features of the environment, like box-canyons, were likely used to 'corral* ungulates which could 
then be killed in larger numbers. 



29 



Natives of this time frame had a total distaste for agriculture. However, they did gather plants for both food 
and medicinal purposes year-round. It is likely they had intimate knowledge of the season and locations 
where important plants (like camas, bitteroot, berries, onion) were available within their 'home range". 

Use of wood products by the Blackfeet included wooden poles for their teepees and travois, firewood for 
heating, and some construction. They used an ax-like tool to cut trees. 

3. Permanency of Establishment 

Seasonal camps were likely fairly traditional among these native people. However, they did not establish 
permanent residences and hence were flexible in responding to natural disaster (like flooding, fire). Family 
bands seemingly had "large territories", and could relocate a camp and still maintain the territory. 

The first white men they encountered in this area were likely solitary fur trappers and traders in the early 
1800's. These white men seemingly had no real affect on Indian lifestyle until the mid-1 800's. At this time 
the mining boom brought not only many more white settelers, but permanent establishments and militia 
for protection. This had the result of eliminating the Blackfeet from their traditional territory onto the 
reservations by about 1 870. 

C. Euro-Americans 

1. Trapping 

The influence of Europeans in the Elkhorns began with appearance of beaver trappers in the early 1 800's. 
Helmick (1977) stated that the first trappers were ambushed, robbed, and killed by Blackfeet war parties 
and therefore until about 1811, white men abandoned the area. When they returned, the trappers worked 
local streams and rivers and are thought to have been a major influence in the decline in local beaver 
populations. 

2. Mining 

Similar to many parts of southwestern Montana, the first significant influx of Europeans into the Helena area 
were miners in the 1 860's. Miners found gold deposits in stream gravels (placer deposits) in southwest 
Montana in 1862 and other discoveries soon followed. According to Pardee and Schrader (1933), placer 
gold mining in the Helena-area began in 1864 with the discovery of gold in Last Chance Gulch. This initial 
discovery soon led to the discovery of other local deposits and placer mining was the chief industry of the 
region for the next ten years. However, these discoveries were largely played out by the mid 1 870's. 

Discoveries of lode deposits of gold, silver and lead were made at the same time as placer deposits. The 
lack of cheap, dependable transportation, and the fact that local ores required expensive metallurgic 
treatment, prevented all but the richest of ores form being mined. Prior to the Union Pacific Railroad 
constructing the first rail line in the territory in 1 883, and smelting facilities being built in East Helena and 
near Wickes the same year, ore had to be hauled by wagon 450 miles to Conine, Utah, or shipped down 
the Missouri River from Fort Benton to sea ports. Once the rail lines were in place, lode mining began in 
earnest and continued for the next ten to fifteen years at a pace that would never be repeated in the area's 
history. By 1 900, many miners turned to other occupations such as agriculture or left the area (Lorenz and 
McMurtry 1956). 

Disturbance associated with early placer activity included stream diversions, removal of fine material from 
the washing of gravels, gravel piles, excavations on benches, and downstream sedimentation and under- 
ground tunnels in drainages and on benches. The first miners worked largely with hand tools, picks, 
shovels, sluices, and rocker boxes, but were able to move large amounts of material by sheer numbers 
and diligence. By the early 1870s hydraulic mining was used in places to placer mine; however, to 
hydraulically mine required certain types of mineral deposits and much water. Indian Creek was the only 
stream in the area that was worked with hydraulic equipment. Earfy mining in Indian Creek involved 
extensive ditch systems to funnel water for that purpose. Much of the placer disturbance that occurred in 
the Elkhorns was accomplished prior to 1880. Mechanized equipment developed in the late 1890's led to 

30 



a resurgence in placer activity. Use of mechanized equipment resulted in larger disturbances; however, 
they tended to be more localized. These mechanized placer operations used either dredges or a dragline 
and wash plant setup, enabling large amounts of material to be removed from valley bottoms and benches 
with relatively little labor. Drainages affected by mechanized placer mining included lower Prickly Pear 
Creek (1904-1945), Wilson Creek (worked intermittently with a dragline from the 1930's to 1980's), Indian 
Creek east of the Forest boundary (1 940's and 50's), and upper Crow and Eureka Creeks appear to have 
been worked with a dragline before the 1950's. 

Unlike placer mines which were in valley bottoms, lode miners built many of the roads in the Elkhorns to 
reach their targets, which were usually in the uplands areas. ..ode mining commenced in the late 1860's 
and experienced a flurry of activity in the Elkhorns into the early 1900's. 

Larger lode mines in the Tizer-Wilson area included the Callahan (Pataloma), Ballard (Center Reef), and 
Belle (Golden Age) mines. Large mines in the Radersburg area included the Keating and Ohio-Keating 
mines and Iron Cross mine. The Iron Cross, unlike the other Radersburg mines produced consistently 
through the 1930's. Large mines in the Park-Indian Creek area included the Diamond Hill, Little Fannie, 
Little Giant, Queen Bee and Park/Marietta mines. Mines in the Winston Mining District included several 
mines, most notably the East Pacific Mine which produced fairly consistently until 1955. Extensive mineral- 
ization of the "quartz monzonite' country rock in the Middle Fork of Warm Springs Creek resulted inseveral 
producing mines active from about 1 895 to 1 91 0. In 1 934, the mine dumps were reworked by a floatation" 
mill. 

Many of the mines discovered during this early period were sporadically prospected or worked on a small 
scale until the 1930's when several mines reopened and were worked intermittently through the 1940's. 
By the 1950's most of the lode mines in the Elkhorns were closed and have experienced little or no activity 
since then. Disturbances related to lode mining activity included roads, pits, dump piles, mine buildings, 
landing areas, and underground workings. Mill facilities were constructed at several of the mines, including 
the Diamond Hill mill which operated from 1897-1900, and 2 mills that operated in the Tizer-Wilson area 
in the 1880's. Diamond Hill had the largest stamp mill of its time, including 100 stamps, water power, an 
electric plant, and a transmission line from Crow Creek (McCormick and Quivik 1990). 

The historical and recent activities of settlement that impacted natural resources included disturbance 
associated with mining-placer and lode, water developments, roads, townsites development and agricul- 
ture, timber harvest, and administrative activities. These activities, at least early on, were concentrated 
around historic mining areas which occurred on all flanks of the Elkhorn Mountains. 

3. Mining Water Developments 

Because water was relatively scarce in the Elkhorns, and water was an important tool for mining gold, 
miners developed numerous water developments, primarily diversion ditches and dams. Miners utilized 
water for their placer operations, hardrock milling operations, boilers, livestock, and personal use. Exten- 
sive ditch sytems were constructed in many areas, primarily in the Indian Creek area during these early 
periods (1868-1885) to funnel water for placer mining (Beck 1988). Large amounts of water were used to 
run the mill at the Diamond Hill mine from 1897 to 1900. Water was dammed in several areas for use in 
smaller mills. Most of these ditches, although still visible, have not been in use for over 100 years and are 
in various states of disrepair and "natural" reclamation. 

Water diversions were likely in the Tizer-Wilson area where water was plentiful and close to the surface. 
Water was diverted around the operating area while the gravels were excavated and washed. 

4. Roads 

Most of the roads in the Elkhorns are believed to have been pioneered for mining or mining-related activities 
such as timber harvest (USDA - FS 1981). Construction of power line and rail stubs to larger mining 
operations (Ohio Keating mine, Diamond Hill mine) also contributed to the amount of roads built. Most of 
the present roads in the Elkhorns were constructed prior to 1 900. "Roads' include 2-wheel tracks without 
a bed, dozer roads, and resurfaced and maintained major arterials. Most of the erosion associated with 



31 



roads occurs from poorly designed dozer roads which are generally located on steeper slopes and do not 
have drainage structures. 

Roads first constructed as wagon roads in the late 1800's were improved in the early 1900's to accommo- 
date motorized traffic. Roads developed for timber cutting before 1 950 were used primarily to transport 
mining timbers and cord wood. Starting after 1 950, roads were constructed to access commercial timber 
sales (eg. Hall Creek, Pole Creek, Hog Hollow). More recently, road providing access to housing subdivi- 
sions have been constructed in the foothills of the Elkhorns, primarily on the western flank. 

5. Townsite3 

As miners forged their way into the Elkhorns, certain areas tended to be 'hotspots' of activity and small 
settlements sprang up. Roads, garbage dumps, timber cutting, and livestock grazing accompanied the 
concentration of people in townsite areas. Ruddville, located in the head of Wilson Creek, was the first 
townsrte founded by Dr. A. F. Rudd in 1865 (USDA - FS 1981). At least 50 structures, log type, were built 
in the town, including a bank. In the late 1880's, the town of Ruddville was leased to 300 Chinese miners 
for a period of years (USDA - FS 1981). Hassel, located just east of the Forest Boundary in Indian Creek, 
was founded in 1 866 and prospered through 1 880. The town included homes, a store, 2 hotels, a church, 
school, and meeting hall, all log-type structures. After the placer boom ended in 1880, Hassel all but died 
out and then experienced a brief revival from 1 897-1 900 with the construction and development of the 
Diamond Hill mine. Radersburg was founded in the late 1860's as miners moved into the rolling hills east 
of the Forest Boundary. Radersburg is the only remaining settlement from the mining era Situated in the 
Missouri River Valley, Townsend developed as a centralized agricultural center that provided goods and 
services to surrounding mining towns and camps. The communities of East Helena, Jefferson City, Clancy, 
Alhambra, Montana City, and Winston all tie their origins in part to placer or lode mining within the vicinity 
of the Elkhorns. Each community served as a commercial center for the various historic mining districts, 
and each was formerly served by the railroad. 

6. Agriculture 

Livestock grazing began in the Tizer Basin shortly after 1863. A small dairy was operated near Bullock Hill 
for a period of time to serve the miners in the area (USDA - FS 1 990). By 1 865, several large cattle ranches 
were located along Crow Creek and homesteaders followed in 1912 (State Engineers' Office 1956). 
Agriculture proceeded steadily into the Townsend Valley area following the influx of miners. In addition to 
mining patents, several areas in the Elkhorns were homesteaded. 

Ranching supplied mining, railroad camps and military outposts in the earty years and grew with the 
population in the 1 870's and 80's. A few years of bad winters resulted in high calving mortality. Subse- 
quently, herds were rebuilt which increased the number of livestock turned onto the range. Combined with 
drought from the mid 1 880's to early 1 900's, overstocking led to accelerated deterioration of the range 
vegetation. With the onset of World War I, ranching was boosted and led to further decline in range 
conditions (State Engineers Office 1956). The first farming consisted of cutting wild hay from natural 
meadows or subirrigated lowlands. Dry farming was initiated on some bench areas in the 1910's; however, 
a severe drought in 1917 starved most of these farmers out of business (Pardee 1925). 

In the early 1 950's dams constructed along the Missouri River within the Townsend Basin (Toston, Canyon 
Ferry) provided water for irrigation and hydroelectic power. As a result, many of the lower parts of the 
Townsend Valley along the Missouri River were cultivated, and the adjacent 'benchlands' were used largely 
for pasture. An extensive network of ditches in both lower Beaver and Crow Creeks dryed the creek beds 
and seasonally severed their connection with the Missouri River. 

Until formation of the public reserves in the early 1 900s, livestock were grazed on an 'open range' concept 
on public lands in conjunction with private lands. During the mid-1 800's, cattle were the primary livestock 
class in the Elkhorns. Toward the late 1 800's, an influx of sheep was experienced in the west due to 
'anti-sheep* range wars taking place in the midwest U.S. Because they were more adapted to a variety of 
vegetation and could be managed by herding, sheep were used to graze the higher elevation, forested 
areas in the Elkhorns. It is not known what the numbers of sheep were during this period; however, the 
Wilderness Study (USDA - FS 1982) generalizes that peak numbers occured in the earty 1900's. In 

32 



addition, the lingering effects on high elevation vegetation indicate that very high numbers of sheep were 
grazed in the Elkhorns. Sheep grazing was phased out by the early 1 970's with the exception of two active 
grazing allotments on BLM lands. 

Grazing patterns have also evolved. Initially, cattle and horse grazing was a community use. Many local 
ranchers in the Missouri River basin turned their livestock out onto the rangeland after calving and branding 
around the end of March to first part of April. Spring grazing began on the lower elevation lands as one 
continuous area stretching from the south end of the Elkhorns near Radersburg to north of Winston and 
reaching from the river to the foothills. As the seasons progressed from spring to summer, livestock pushed 
the snow line until they reached the limits of the forage producing areas. From summer into the fall, they 
ranged throughout the mountains until fall storms forced them down into the lower elevations again. In the 
late fall, ranchers cooperatively gathered livestock and took them home. In any season, little, if any, work 
was done to distribute livestock such as fencing or water developments. The grazing strategy was simply 
a season-long, continous system. 

In the 1930's, two significant events occured which helped to check the livestock use of the previous 60 
years. The Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 began the organization and process for creating allotments and 
providing direction for management of public lands for both Bureau of Land Management and Forest 
Service administered lands. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built miles of Forest Service boundary 
fences. Inventory of the condition and grazing potential of the land was done and resulted in the first 
long-term allotment management plans. Grazing permittees and public land agencies cooperated in 
accomplishing the building of allotment fences, water developments, and treatment of hundreds of acres 
of sagebrush. Records show that many of the allotments in the Elkhorns were burned or sprayed at 20-30 
year intervals, beginning in the 1950's, to reduce sagebrush and increase forage production. In the late 
1 960's, many allotment management plans were rewritten to implement better grazing systems and further 
refine stocking rates. 

Records show that as the grazing permit system was fully developed within the Forest Service, and 
management practices were implemented for specific allotments, stocking rates were also brought more 
in line with what the forage base could support. Although the number of permits in the Elkhorns declined, 
total number of livestock increased as small permit holders transferred their permits to larger operation 
ranches. The average permit size in 1930 was 45 cow/calf pairs whereas in 1983 it was 78 cow/calf pairs. 

7. Timber Harvest 

Much of the timber found in the Elkhorns, particularly at lower elevations, is "second-growth". A large 
amount of timber harvest occurred in conjunction with early mining activity. Timber was harvested to 
construct homes, feed boilers, build flumes, line ditches, shore up underground workings, construct mine 
buildings, and to heat dwellings. Boilers were used to power machinery for lode mines and many are still 
found abandoned at old mines. Before 1900, there were 13 lumber mills operating adjacent to national 
forest lands in the Elkhorns (USDA - FS 1 981 ). In the vicinity of the town of Elkhorn on the Deertodge Forest, 
it is reported that 500 sawyers were employed prior to 1 900 to provide for mining timber needs. Harvest 
activity on the Helena Forest can also be inferred coincident to intensive mining locations. Most of the 
harvest probably occurred before 1900; however, localized logging around specific underground mines 
would have occurred periodically after 1 900. During the 1 930's to 40's, a revival in lode mining activity 
probably contributed to a moderate level of additional harvest activity, particularty in the Park-Indian Creek 
area. Mines in the Radersburg area are reported to have harvested timber for their needs from National 
Forest lands because few trees were/are located in the vicinity of these mines (Lorenz and McMurtrey 

1956). 

8. Administration 

a. Establishment of the Forest Service 

The Elkhorn Forest Reserve was established in 1 900. The Elkhorn National Forest was created in 1 907 and 
transferred to the Helena National Forest in 1908 (USDA - FS 1981). Several ranger stations were built to 
administer the lands including the Tizer Station and conversion of a cabin (built by a local miner prior to 
1 900) in Eagle Basin to a guard station. 

33 



b. Timber Management 

Custodial management was practiced until the 1960's when road building and timber harvest activities 
were initiated in Staubach, Pole, and Hog Hollow Creeks. Additional timber was sold by the Forest Service 
and harvested in Hall Creek and Johnny Gulch in the 1970's. Some of these harvest units were on drier 
Douglas fir slopes. Because harvest was by clearcutting, many of these units have not regenerated to the 
point of providing cover for wildlife today. 

Through the Forest Planning process and based on the Wilderness Study and designation of the Elkhorns 
as a Wildlife Management Unit in the early 1980's, commercial forest land in the Elkhorns was classified 
as unsuitable for timber management. The Elkhorns were taken out of the timber base because the 
emphasis on wildlife and recreation was felt to be incompatible with timber harvest on a sustained basis. 
Forest Plans did specify however that timber harvest could be used as a management tool to improve 
wildlife habitat. Restrictions have been placed on commercial harvest within BLM's Muskrat Wilderness 
Study Area in the Elkhorns; however BLM has forest stands south of the forest boundary where commercial 
harvest is allowed. 

In 1988, 40,000 acres within the Elkhorns, including both public and private lands burned following a fire 
started by a burning vehicle in Warm Springs Creek. The fire burned the northwest portion of the Elkhorns 
as far east as Kimber Gulch and including the McClellan and Beaver Creek watersheds (Figure 8). 

Although it was controversial because of the requirement that timber harvest be used only to improve 
wildlife habitat, salvage logging was completed on several hundred acres in Willard, Jackson, Warm 
Springs, and Crystal Creeks after the 1988 Warm Springs fire. Combined with the previous commercial 
harvest, a total of 2500 acres (less than 2%) on the Helena Forest portion of the Elkhorns has been 
commercially harvested (USDA -- FS 1976 and Warms Springs EA) (Figure 9). 

Logging on private lands adjacent to the Forest boundary has occurred in Warm Springs, Jackson, Crystal, 
and Staubach Creeks since 1988. The amount of private harvest is estimated to include about 1400 acres 
(J. Meyer, pers. commun). 

c. Fire Suppression 

The U.S. Forest Service practiced fire suppression in the Elkhorns after the turn of the century. Following 
the severe fires of 1910, fire suppression became an important objective of the early Forest Service. In 
those early days, the lack of readily available manpower and equipment, and a sophisticated transportation 
system made suppression efforts in the higher elevations unlikely. Suppression efforts in the grass/shrub 
communities and lower elevation forested areas dominated by ponderosa pine and dry site Douglas fir, 
were however, at least partially successful. 

By the late 1 930's however, with improved equipment, a large manpower pool available through the Civilian 
Conservation Corps, fire suppression efforts were more successful even at higher elevations. In 1935, the 
Forest Service adopted an agency policy of trying to control all fires before 10 AM the morning following 
ignition, or before they reached 1 acres in size. This policy was in existence until 1 971 when it was realized 
that fire has a role to play in the sustainability of some ecosystems. Prescribed natural fires began to take 
place in wilderness areas, and by 1978 the 10 AM policy and 10 acre fire control policies were replaced 
with a fire management policy. 

d. Fish and Wildlife Management 

During the early 1 800s, Lewis and Clark traveled along the Missouri River and through parts of what is 
known as the Canyon Ferry Valley. They documented the presence of elk, deer, antelope, prairie and 
mountain grouse, mountain sheep, bear, swan, geese, sandhill crane and beaver. In their journals they 
spoke of beaver as numerous and abundant in small tributaries. North and east of Winston, bison were 
said to be numerous. All in all the Missouri River Valley and associated mountain ranges were teaming' 
with fish and wildlife. 



34 



WARM SPRINGS FIRE - 1988 

VICINITY MAP 



Fire Area 




HELENA NATIONAL FOREST 
TIMBER HARVEST UNITS 




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FIGURE 9 




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Helena National Forest 

Elkhorn Mountains 
Landtype Aggregations 



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FIGURE 10 



Only native fish species were found in the Elkhorns prior to the arrival of European man. Introductions of 
brook trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, and Yellowstone cutthroat trout (vs. the native "Missouri" cutthroat) 
presumably originated from stocking by the Dept. of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (Hadley 1981). The original 
introductions were subsequently widely dispersed by sportsmen. Lakes in the Elkhorns were barren pric 
to stocking efforts begun by sportsmen as early as the 1920s. Subsequent lake stocking was (and is 
today) continued by MDFWP. 

Because of market and bounty trapping and hunting, by the early 1900's many wildlife species were at 
population lows. For all practical purposes, beaver, prairie dogs, bison, grizzly bears, and wolves had been 
extirpated from this area. Along with elimination of bison and prairie dogs, other wildlife like black-footed 
ferrets, mountain plover, swift fox, burrowing owls, and ferruginous hawks became rare. 

In response to declines in ungulates, hunting seasons were established in 1872 for grouse, buffalo, elk, 
moose, deer, bighorn sheep, antelope, and hare. These seasons prohibited hunting between Feb. 1 to Aug 
1 5. In 1 877, market hunting for game birds was prohibited, and in 1 897, moose hunting was halted. In 1 91 6, 

all hunting of antelope, beaver, and bighorn sheep was halted, and elk and deer hunting weie severely 
restricted. 

Elk were transplanted into Elkhorn Creek from Yellowstone Park in 1939. Also in this time period, many of 
the ungulate species increased due to protection from overharvest. Beginning in 1 940, game management 
programs were initiated and hunting seasons reestablished. Bighorn sheep, tenets, grizzly bears, and wolf 
populations never recovered in the Elkhorns. Non-native mountain goats were introduced in 1956. In the 
early 60's, either sex hunting seasons were replaced by permit systems which resulted in fairty rapid 
population increases in elk and deer in the Elkhorns. The increase in deer and elk populations has 
continued to the present. 

9. Urban Development 

The city of Helena, with a population in excess of 30,000, lies less than 5 miles northwest of the Elkhorn 
Range. While the core urban environment is confined essentially to the Helena valley, its influence has 
extended well into the Elkhorns since the last half of the 1 9th century. Dispersed rural settlement has 
spread through much of the foothills region, and subdivisions cluster along the north, west and east 
borders of the range. Many people who work in Helena now seek to build their homes in a more rural 
setting, pushing the "urban interface" right to the borders of federal lands in the Elkhorns. 

IX. MAN'S EFFECTS ON THE LANDSCAPE 

Summary: 

While recognizing that man has long occupied and used the Elkhorn landscape and must be considered 
in the future of the mountain range, it is necessary to understand the effects that man has had on 
ecosystem processes in order to then describe the existing conditions and to prescribe management that 
will help restore and sustain the diversity and productivity of the land into the future. This chapter explores 
the effects man has had on natural processes in the Elkhorns and how those, and more current develop- 
ments like subdivisions, will influence future management options. 

A. Soil Development 

Rates of soil loss exceeding normal erosion rates occurs naturally following vegetation disturbing events 
such as fire, wind, floods or outbreaks of insects and disease in trees. Man's influence on these processes 
has been mainly in relation to fire suppression and the introduction of other disturbances such as timber 
harvest, mining, grazing, and farming. 

B. Herbivory 

European man has influenced "natural' herbivory cycles by the introduction of domestic livestock, fire 
supression, and the total or near elimination of key native herbivores such as bison, prairie dogs, and 

35 



beaver. The differences between native herbivores and domestic livestock, which were introc' 
support mining communities beginning in 1870, include the intensity of grazing and the duration o. 
Bison grazing tended to be "severe*. That is, they removed all the vegetation on an area so that no >. 
species had a competitive advantage over any other. Severe grazing also broke the destructive cycles 
insects, killed old plants, and left space for seedlings to develop (Banister 1 991 ). In addition, the migratory 
movements of bison allowed for long periods of rest after grazing. The recovered plant canopy in turn 
allowed for build-up of ground cover and litter, better infiltration of rain, and seedling establishment 
(Banister 1991). 

With the absence of prairie dogs, an entire vegetation/wildlife community guild has been lost. In addition, 
soil structure and development cycles have been altered. 

In contrast to native herbivory, large numbers of domestic livestock and sheep were grazed annually in 
the Elkhorns on a season-long continuous basis from 1870 to about 1934. Archive photographs taken 
during this time period and range reports from the 1920's, both indicate that the range had been seriously 
degraded (USDA - FS 1982). This degradation, along with a lack of fire, is manifested in an abundance 
of woody shrub species, bare soil, and loss of ground cover. In addition, intensive livestock use contributed 
to the change in the structure and function of riparian areas. 

Agriculture and urban development in the Helena valley has eliminated an entire lowland habitat zone for 
many "herbivorous" and predatory wildlife species. Some species, such as bison, wofves, and grizzfy bears, 
have been extirpated both from the valleys surrounding the Elkhorns and then from the mountains 
themselves. Others, such as elk and black bear, have had to adapt to yearlong existence in the mountains, 
foothills, and more remote regions of the valleys. As the urban interface has expanded into the foothills, 
more key habitat sites are occupied, movement corridors are blocked, and decimating factors multiply. The 
proliferation of roads, barbed wire fences, power lines, dogs, and armed residents increases the vulnerabil- 
ity of whatever wildlife continues to occupy the interface. This includes smaller species such as cottontails, 
ruffed grouse, goshawks, ground squirrels, and weasels, as well as the larger species such as mule deer 
and coyotes. 

The near elimination of beaver, an important herbiovore on woody species, not only affected the vegeta- 
tion, but also the storage and release of water in streams. As dams broke and water tables lowered, 
vegetation once associated with saturated soils (eg. willow, aspen) began to die out. This in turn allowed 
for greater penetration of the streamside zone by livestock which accelerated the decline in woody 
vegetation (browsing, structural damage). 

As the eastern beaver population declined, expeditions to the West were often made solely for finding new 
trapping areas. By 1 900, beaver were almost extinct in North America Presently, although beaver have 
recovered because of laws regulating trapping, populations represent only a small fraction of earlier 
numbers (Naiman et al. 1988). This is primarily due to the effects of intensive livestock grazing. Grazing 
has resulted in the elimination of the amount and diversity of woody species necessary to sustain a beaver 
population in many drainages. 

Reduction of beaver in the Elkhorns has contributed to the narrowing and virtual elimination of certain types 
of wetland communities in some locations. In places where a water table dropped relative to its level under 
the influence of beaver, plants associated with saturated soils (such as the willow community in Tizer Basin) 
became decadent and began to die out. 

C. Flooding 

Flood intensity varies indirectly with the amount of precipitation that runs off the landscape. This in turn 
is influenced by soils and vegetation. Activities by European man which have had the potential to increase 
runoff and hence flood intensity include those actions which have disturbed or removed vegetation and 
compacted soils. These activities included mining, roading, grazing, and more recently, compaction 
caused by streamside (eg. camping) recreational uses. The elimination of beaver, and subsequent reduc- 
tion in habitat due to grazing, has also affected localized flooding in the Elkhorns. 



36 



D. Erosion and Deposition 

Vegetative cover is the primary factor controlling rates of erosion; consequently, accelerated soil loss 
occurs in pulses of erosion after vegetation has been disturbed. Both timber harvest and mining activities 
have resulted in increased short-term erosion at local levels. 

Degradation of riparian vegetation due to heavy grazing and the removal of beaver, has likely changed the 
rates of erosion and deposition of riparian areas in the Elkhorns. Without streambank protection by root 
masses and vegetation, erosion and sedimentation processes associated with precipitation events have 
probably been accelerated. Upland areas that have experienced vegetation disturbance (either from fire, 
grazing practices, mining or shading by juniper canopy) have also experienced increased runoff and soil 
losses. 

E. Evapotranspiration 

Man's activities in the Elkhorns have likely had an effect on evapotranspiration. Intensive grazing and lack 
of fire, and cessation of timber harvest have led to an increased density of woody plants on forest and 
grasslands. Since woody plants consume more water into their tissues, there is less water available for 
soils, ground and surface water and the atmosphere. It could be argued, however, that timber harvest and 
the periodic widespread treatment of sagebrush in the Elkhorns inversely affected water yields by allowing 
for higher rates of solar penetration and therefore spring melt of snowpacks. 

Generally, for every acre of dense colonization by trees there is a 0.38-0.42 acre foot loss in water yield 
and decrease in runoff. Likewise, for every acre of trees cut (or burned), there is a corresponding gain in 
water yield to soils, ground and surface water systems (Dunne and Leopold 1978). The removal of other 
woody vegetation (eg. sagebrush) will also contribute to gains in water yield, but to a lesser extent than 
tree removal. 

Overall, water yields on a large scale have probably remained fairly constant, but could have experienced 
significant changes at a local level (eg. a particular spring). 

F. Insects and Diseases 

1. Bark Beetles 

With the advent of fire suppression by European man, tree densities increased and resulted in greater 
susceptibility to "stress" as the trees grew and over utilized the soil, water, and nutrients available. This 
made trees more susceptible to attack by bark beetles. Attacks on groups of trees rather than scattered 
individual trees has become more likely. The populations of these insects are capable of developing into 
epidemic status in just a few years. When an epidemic occurs, the majority of the trees in the stand can 
be killed. The end result of a bark beetle epidemic is a decrease in the overstory density and production 
of substantial quantities of down woody fuel. Over time, the understory is colonized by tree species more 
tolerant to bark beetles, and a multi-storied canopy results. 

2. Other Agents 

Similar to the effect of settlement on bark beetles, the increased tree densities and stress resulting from 
fire suppression has facilitated defoliation by budworms. Stands that developed a multi-storied structure 
are particularly susceptible. Budworm feeding damage has resulted in some mortality and extensive top-kill 
of trees in the Elkhorns. Trees that experienced top-kill developed deformed boles over time and subse- 
quently are prone to rot. In many cases, the trees in the understory stand layers were destroyed. 

Little change would be expected resulting from settlement except that rots might have increased in areas 
where timber harvest resulted in wounds on trees. 

Blister rust is an introduced pathogen from Europe to western North America and has quickly spread 
through much of the range of the five-needle pines. In some areas such as the Rocky Mountain Front west 



37 



of Choteau, extensive mortality is occurring in the whitebark pine. However, in the Elkhorns, this rust is 
present only at low levels. 

G. Fire 

Fire suppression in its earliest forms probably consisted of using burlap bags or pine boughs to swat out 
grass fires. Frequent, low intensity fires in grasslands and open forested stands (with typical flamelengths 
of 2 to 4 feet) could have been successfully suppressed with this equipment, utilizing the tactic of direct 
attack. These lower elevation areas (grasslands and ponderosa/Douglas fir stands) were the areas typical- 
ly occupied by early homesteaders. These early settlers were motivated to suppress fire to protect the 
homes and other log buildings they constructed. Therefore, it is suggested that settlers in the area were 
able to successfully suppress fire at lower elevations. 

Coincident with human settlement and the accompanying practices of grazing and fire suppression, the 
amount of shrubs and trees in areas dominated by grasses have increased from pre-settlement conditions. 
In the absence of fire and in the presence of intensive grazing (where livestock preferred non-woody 
plants), trees and shrubs were able to outcompete grasses for a limited amount of soil, water, and nutrients. 
These factors also contributed to increases in the amount of exposed soil and therefore soil erosion, due 
to the change from a shallow, diffuse root system holding the soil in place to deep tap-rooted type systems. 
The shading from conifers also precluded grasses and their diffuse root systems from becoming reestab- 
lished and holding soil in place. This change in the type and distribution of vegetation also changed the 
fuels" from fines' to larger fuels which in turn reduced the ability of subsequent fires to naturally ignite and 
spread. 

Areas in the Elkhorns that were typically maintained as open ponderosa stands have been invaded by 
Douglas fir seedlings and saplings as a result of suppressing frequent, low intensity, naturally-occurring 
fires. The resulting multi-storied structure of these stands would now precludes the low intensity creeping 
fires that once maintained savannah-like stand characteristics. Multiple tree canopies (occupying a variety 
of vertical heights) create fuel ladders". These fuel ladders increase the probability that a fire ignition would 
result in a high intensity "stand-replacing" crown fire. In contrast to the ground fires that naturally occurred 
in these open ponderosa stands, a fire event today would be predicted to result in the loss not only the 
understory vegetation, but also the mature and large overstory ponderosa pine trees. 

The role of fire suppression in Douglas fir is similar to that of ponderosa pine stands. Frequent, low intensity 
underburns occurred, especially on gentle slopes. These frequent fires favored the development and 
maintenance of open stands composed of larger trees and having very little woody undergrowth or woody 
debris. Drier habitat types would have had an understory of grasses, and moister sites would have 
supported an understory of forbs, grasses, and shrubs. Fire suppression in these stands has resulted in 
an increase in both younger trees and downed woody debris. In addition, on moist Douglas fir sites, the 
lack of underburning has resulted in the decline in numbers and vigor of undergrowth plant species (eg. 
spirea) that respond favorably to fire by resprouting. 

Lodgepole is generally considered a "serai" species that is perpetuated by disturbance events - especially 
fire. Once established, lodgepole stands are most susceptible to reoccurring fire at both young and old 
ages. Stands least likely to ignite and burn are those between 40 to 60 years old. Individual lodgepole trees 
are easily killed by fire due to their very thin bark. In a natural setting, some age diversification was present 
within the overall Elkhorn landscape (resulting in fire patterns' that often follow topographic breaks) even 
though stands or individual patches of trees tended to be the same age. This diversity in the ages of stands 
in the landscape matrix would have limited the spread of most naturally occurring fires. As a result of sixty 
years of fire suppression, the number of acres of the young to mid-aged trees have declined. This has 
resulted in many acres on continuous mature lodgepole timber which is now susceptible to high intensity 
fire events. In addition, the lack of 40 to 60 year old stands which naturally acted to buffer the spread of 
fire, increases the liklihood of a very large fire event. 

Fires in the subalpine fir/ spruce zone of the forest tend to be infrequent. However, when they do occur, 
they tend to be high intensity and therefore stand replacing. Long fire free intervals (between two hundred 
and three hundred years) are due nearly year-round presence of snow and cool temperatures at these 
higher elevations. When conditions are condusive to fire (eg. drought), the characteristics of suDaipme tir 

38 



and spruce which have very thin bark and a structure of branches that hang down and often come in close 
contact with the ground, contribute to the "stand-replacing" nature of fires in this zone. In addition, heavy 
fuel loadings are not "unnatural" here as they are under the more frequent natural fire regimes in the lower 
elevations. 

The effects of fire suppression in the higher elevation subalpine fir and whitebark pine sites in the Elkhorns 
are not as documented previously for the lower elevation Douglas fir and ponderosa pine zones. The 
reason for this difference stems from the fact that the technology required to suppress fire in these typically 
inaccessible areas (air tankers, helicopters, fire engines, fireline explosives etc.), has only existed for a 
fraction of the normal fire frequency in this forest zone (ie. 50 vears out of 200+ years). This technology 
has enabled suppression of fires in mature high elevation stancs that have begun to exhibit stand replacing 
behavior if action is taken quickly while the fire is small. However, even with modern technology, truely 
effective suppression of stand-replacing fire in the subalpine fire forest is not usually possible in part due 
to considerations of the safety and welfare of firefighting personnel. 

Overall, it is estimated that fire suppression efforts at higher elevations has had the effect of allowing the 
downslope "spread" of the spruce/fir zone into areas that were maintained as lodgepole under a natural 
disturbance regime. 

H. Management Options 

The loss of approximately one third of the low elevation grassland/shrubland habitats due to agriculture 
and urbanization, and the proximity of the growing urban center of Helena limits the degree to which 
pre-settlement ecosystem processes and patterns can be restored and maintained in the Elkhorns. In 
addition to the direct loss of an important habitat (prairie), the growing human population in the area 
assures that recreationists and other public land users will converge on the Elkhorns in increasing 
numbers. Residents adjacent to the Elkhorns are expressing greater interest in nearby public land man- 
agement concerns which may affect them directly such as fire management, and indirectly such as mining. 

The proximity of Helena significantly raises the level of recreational use in the Elkhorns. Traditionally, this 
activity has been greatest during the fall hunting season. However, local residents are using the Elkhorns 
for an increasing variety of day use recreation activities. This increased use has resulted in additional 
contact between visitors, violations, and resource damage. Many residents of the urban interface, in 
particular, tend to think of the Elkhorns as part of their backyard. As a result, private landowners may close 
traditional access routes to protect their privacy. 

The urban influence has also complicated fire suppression and the use of fire as a management tool in 
the Elkhorns. Not only has the frequency of man-caused fires increased, but the need to protect people 
and dwellings throughout the urban interface has inflated the cost and complexity of fighting wildfire in the 
lower Elkhorns. In particular, a much greater initial attack effort is required than for a non-urban area 
wildland fire. Prescribed burning needed to help restore many of the ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir 
stands to their presettlement structure is also likely to be constrained. In populated areas, local opposition 
to the smoke produced by prescribed fire is a primary limiting factor. 



39 



Part 2 



X. NATURAL RESOURCES -- RANGE OF NATURAL VARIATION, 
EXISTING, AND DESIRED CONDITIONS 

A. Introduction 

The information in Part 1 attempts to "set the stage" on which the rest of the Elkhorns landscape "picture" 
-- the vegetation, wildlife, and social/economic uses -- can be painted. In Part 2 of this document, the range 
of natural variation (RNV), existing conditions (EC), desired conditions (DC), and management directions 
(MD) are documented for the natural resource categories of soil, water, vegetation, fish, and wildlife. The 
desired conditions are derived from the direction provided in the existing Forest Plan and BLM Resource 
Management Plan (RMP) in combination with the objective of ecological management - sustainability. The 
management direction provides the general trend" needed to implement the desired condition overall in 
the landscape. More specific management opportunities are developed and documented at the level of 
the Implementation Areas. 

The use of the term "natural" refers to the conditions that included both the influences of climatic and 
geologically driven events (eg. lightening, earthquakes) as well as the influence of prehistoric man and 
Native Americans. This rests on the assumption that the influence of early man was largely complimentary 
to the natural regime and did not represent major perturbations in the "natural" rates and ranges of 
ecosystem processes. 

The information contained in Part 2 is addressed at a landscape level, including reference to both 
ecological landscape units and landtype associations. Generally, information at a more site specific level 
than landtype associations is deferred to the individual implementation area descriptions. Reference is 
made at the beginning of each resource section regarding the author of the report from which the material 
was taken. The original reports can be located in the Elkhorn Landscape Analysis project file. 



B. Soils (C. Maynard) 



Summary: 



RNV: 


based on parent material 

geologic normal rates of erosion 

some accelerated loss after natural disturbances 


EC: 


most still within "RNV 

30-40% of soils/veg not within RNV; small proportion not "reclaimable" 

20% affected by intensive grazing (bare soil, organic material, compaction, erosion) 

Reduction of 30-50 % of the veg biomass on many rangeland sites 


DC: 


maintain long-term site productivity 


MD: 


implement erosion control measures on granitic soils 
restore processes that incorporate organic material into soils 
restore plant cover on sites with excessive bare soil 



40 



1. Range of Natural Variation 

The range of natural variation of soils and their properties is assumed to closely coincide with what we now 
call "site potential". As used in this document, site potential is a term that refers to the range of biological 
capability inherent to any given location, based on the ability of the soils to support a given type of 
vegetation. 

Generally, during the pre-settlement period, soil erosion did not exceed the geologic "normal" rates. 
However, rates of soil loss exceeding baseline geologic erosion rates naturally occurred following vegeta- 
tion disturbing events such as fire, wind, flooding or outbreaks of insects and/or disease. 

The impacts of fire on soil properties and underground ecosystem components were a consequence of 
the amount of organic matter consumed, which was largely determined by the intensity and duration of 
the fire. In general, wildfires of naturally occurring intensity and duration would not have been expected 
to cause detrimental impacts to soil physical or chemical properties. 

The dry climatic conditions in the Elkhorns supported forest ecosystems with relatively slow decomposition 
rates. Under natural fire regimes, the mineralization of nutrients by fire greatly helped recycle the nutrients 
necessary for maintaining longterm site productivity. As with fire-related erosion, fire stimlated release of 
nutrients would have occurred in periodic pulses. When other conditions were favorable, this flush of 
nutrients would have been accompanied by the predominance of early to mid-successional stage plant 
communities. 

2. Existing Condition 

With the advent of European settlers, several types of 'unnatural' soil disturbing activities have occurred 
in the Elkhorns. These included mining, livestock grazing, road building, timber harvesting, water develop- 
ments, and the establishment of townsites. The suppression of natural wildfires also became an estab- 
lished practice. 

In much of the Elkhorn range, the existing environment continues to reflect soil conditions within the range 
of natural variation. Other portions of the landscape (30-40%) now have vegetation communities and soil 
conditions that would not have developed under natural ecosystem processes and disturbance regimes. 
Though proportionately small, still other areas have been so seriously altered by man-caused disturbance 
that existing site potential has for all practical purposes been permanently altered (this pertains primarily 
to mine tailings and dumps). These severely affected areas have detrimental displacement of soil surface 
layers. By definition, surface soil layers in these areas cannot be replaced within the 50 year planning 
horizon. 

a. Upland Soils 

Based on the combined soil, climatic and topographic features of the area, it is likely that the overall 
composition of vegetation between forest and non-forest has remained within similar percentages to 
present conditions for hundreds of years. However, the soils near the grassland/forest boundaries may 
have experienced both types of vegetation in varying proportions at different times. 

In general, existing conditions in the grass/shrub complex (roughly 20% of the area) reflect the impacts 
of both continuous livestock grazing for the past century and the suppression of natural fire regimes. 

According to the Broadwater County Soil Survey. ..'From early settlement in about 1865 until 1950, range 
in the Broadwater County area was overgrazed*. During and since that time, continuous grazing pressure 



41 



has significantly reduced the amount of organic biomass produced and the amount retained after grazing 
to be incorporated back into the soil. Percentages of bare soil have increased by 20-30% over historic 
ranges. The potential for and/or actual occurrance of accelerated erosion due to loss of ground cover is 
evident on at least 20% of the rangeland in the Elkhorns. 

The loss of ground cover and high percentages of bare soil associated with range use patterns have 
contributed to the loss of soil structure (compaction) in locations receiving continuous concentrations of 
livestock use. Detrimental compaction, defined as an increase in soil bulk density of 15% or more over 
undisturbed levels, has resulted primarily from the action of animal hooves on "depleted" soils. It can be 
found on an estimated 5-10% of the areas grazed by livestock. Moderate compaction is evident on at least 
an additional 10-15% of the rangeland. Compaction results in increased runoff and reduced plant growth 
due to reduced water supply, and restricted pore space and aeration of soils. 

Suppression of natural and native caused wildfires has led to changes in natural patterns of nutrient 
cycling. With the loss of this mechanism for incorporation of organic matter and mineralized elements into 
the soils, the nutrient status of both grassland and forest sites has been altered. In some cases, longterm 
productivity has been significantly reduced. 

The changes from pre-settlement conditions to the present are most evident in reduced vegetative 
productivity. Reductions of between 30-50 percent of the vegetative biomass produced prior to settlement 
are estimated for the majority of present rangeland sites in the Elkhorns. Due to reduced site productivity, 
and relative absence of fire, both grassland and forest sites have experienced significant changes in plant 
species composition, distribution, and density. In the grass/shrub complex, due to localized loss of surface 
soil, conditions are now favorable for juniper colonization on sites formerty occupied by a variety of other 
shrubs. Under historic fire patterns and return intervals, the percentages of juniper were less than under 
present conditions. Other changes include a decrease in the number of viable communities of cottonwood, 
aspen, willow, and numerous species of forbs and grasses. 

Changes in the forested portion of the landscape relate primarily to stand structure, canopy closure and 
woody debris accumulations. Forested areas generally support more trees per acre than were naturally 
maintained. In the absence of fire, decomposition alone does not adequately mineralize the amount of 
organic matter necessary to supply the nutrient needs of these forest stands. As a result of these greater 
fuel loads, the probability of fires that would burn hot and long enough to alter or damage soil physical 
or chemical properties are much greater. Under those circumstances, fires would result in a net loss of 
nitrogen and other essential elements in contrast to the natural release of nutrients following fire. In 
addition, infiltration and water-holding properties of the soil may also be adversely impacted by a given 
fire event. 

b. Riparian soils 

Changes in the upland landscape, in terms of the increased density of tree canopy cover and loss of 
ground cover, have impacted the amount of soil moisture available on both upland and riparian locations. 
Overall, this loss of available surface and ground water has contributed to a reduction in riparian vegetation 
and hydric soil properties on sites having riparian potential, and in some locations an actual loss of riparian 
potential. 

The reduction in riparian sites is most apparent in the grassland/shrubland complex and lower elevation 
forested areas. This follows from a history of overuse and dewatering that may have resulted in the 
permanent loss or impairment of many of the riparian systems in the Eikhoms. A conservative estimate of 
overall loss of riparian expression suggests a 20-40% reduction has taken place since pre-European times. 
Detrimental puddling, defined as identifiable ruts or hoof prints caused by equipment operation or animals 



*<i 



grazing on wet soils, is a condition which adversely affects soil productivity and hydrologic function. It is 
evident in riparian areas throughout the grazed portion of the Elkhorn landscape. 

The loss of riparian ecosystems, though not inclusive of a large number of acres, translates to a significant 
loss of fisheries, hydrologic function, and the diversity and productivity of both potential vegetation and 
wildlife. 

3. Forest Plan/RMP -- Desired Condition 

Few specific soil parameters are addressed in the current Forest Plan or RMP. Emphasis is given on 
maintainance of long-term site productivity and control of erosion on soils derived from granite. In order 
to maintain productivity and control erosion, the processes that insure sustainable soil productivity must 
be restored to natural levels. This includes those processes that help incorporate organic material back 
into soils. In addition, disturbances that result in compaction, puddling, and accelerated erosion must be 
controlled and efforts made to reestablish plant cover and "natural" soil structure and properties. 

Therefore, the overall desired condition of soils in the Elkhorns is as follows: 

Watersheds are characterized by soils which retain inherent characteristics, such as horizona- 
tion, aggregation or structure, organic matter content and distribution, and nutrient recycling 
processes. Limited, localized soil alteration is associated with disturbance by native animals, 
plant root growth, tree blowdown, and other natural causes. Management related soil disturb- 
ance severe enough to adversely affect long-term productivity and plant community succession 
and health is minimized to the degree practicable. Areas of surface soil are not severely 
displaced, compacted, and/or puddled except when essential for transportation and adminis- 
trative needs. Unnecessary roads are obliterated and/or stabilized. The soils capture and 
gradually release water commensurate with inherent soil infiltration and permeability rates, 
moisture retention capabilities, and local hillslope hydrology. Soil nutrient cycling and mineral- 
ization of organic matter is at levels compatible with inherent natural soil forming processes. 

4. Management Direction 

In order to implement the desired condition from the present condition of soils on the Elkhorn landscape, 
efforts must be directed toward maintaining or enhancing soil organic matter content and structure, and 
toward restoration of processes that facilitate nutrient recycling. In addition, erosion control measures 
should be implemented especially on granitic soils, and plant cover should be restored on sites with 
excessive bare soil. One of the critical considerations in implementing the desired condition is the manage- 
ment of livestock, especially in riparian areas. 

C. Water (B. Ihle) 

Summary: 



RNV: 


seasonal water flows have only moderate fluctuation 




streams connected with Missouri River 




good water quality 




abundant water at seeps and springs 




floodplains and wetlands occurred in low gradients 



4J 



Summary: (continued) 



EC: 



overall less flow; more flow fluctuation seasonally 
streams diverted and fragmented from Missouri River 
overall within state standards for water quality 
localized poor water quality 

lowering of water tables; less flow at seeps and springs 
loss of wetlands and floodplain development 



DC: 



generally stable flow regimes 

streams reconnected with Missouri River where possible 

good water quality 

watersheds functioning to store water and sediment 



MD: 



restore riparian 'habitat'; reintroduce beaver 

identification and correction of localized pollution 

rehabilitation of lower stream reaches (in cooperation with private landowners) 



1. Range of Natural Variation 

a. Surface Water 

Streams work toward a state of equilibrium, responding to changes in upland conditions, elevation, and 
climate. Disturbances such as local mass wasting or beaver activity greatly influenced the landforms that 
developed along stream reaches. 

High gradient streams in the Elkhoms were found in relatively narrow drainages, had little or no floodplain 
and narrow riparian zones. Lower gradient streams, such as Crow Creek and the South Fork of Crow Creek, 
may have distinct floodplains and broader riparian areas. At the individual stream scale, small differences 
in land surface height above the water table or distance from the stream influenced the development of 
riparian vegetation (Green et al. 1991). 

Streams in the Elkhorns respond to and were recharged by precipitation events. When precipitation was 
highest, during April, May and June, streamflow was greatest. January and February were the months with 
the lowest flow. Streams also responded to longer term climate events. For example, several years of below 
normal precipitation or drought generally resulted in lower average annual discharge. In addition to direct 
precipitation, seepage from groundwater and some snowmeft contributed year-round to streamflows. 

Prior to Euro-American settlement, streams in the Elkhorns were not ditched or diverted, except possibly 
by beaver. Because more water stayed in the stream course year-round, the stream had more competence 
and likely carried more water and sediment downstream during runoff and flood periods. Beaver dams, 
thick streamside vegetation and more vegetative cover on upland areas would have countered some of 
this sedimentation. Streamflow may have also been somewhat higher prior to Europeans because fires 
maintained more herbaceous vegetation which has lower evapotranspiration rates. However, rates of snow 
melt may have been higher as well which would tend to result in higher spring flows and lower summer 
flows. 

Stream flow losses included seepage from the streambed where it crossed alluvial material in the outlying 
basins. Alluvial material is composed primarily of sand, silt and gravel mixtures. Some stream flow was also 
lost to the ground water system when the stream flows over porous rocks such as limestone. 



44 



Floods were a recurring phenomenon in the Elkhorns area and played an important role In the develop- 
ment and evolution of stream channels. The effects of floods on landscapes with natural vegetation 
conditions were usually limited to streams, floodplains and gully bottoms. In contrast, fire erosion events 
affected upland areas as well as the 'bottoms'. Floods in the Elkhorns caused downcutting and alteration 
of streambanks, channel changes, increased turbidity, and the movement of sediment, cobbles, boulders, 
and debris. The flood of May 1981 was the largest flood event to have affected the Elkhorns in over 100 
years (Parrett et al. 1982). Suspended sediment measurements for one day during the flooding period on 
the Missouri River at Toston measured 33,000 tons/day on May 25, 1981. A portion of this sediment 
contribution was from Crow Creek. Other larger floods which occurred in the Elkhorns area occurred in 
1908, 1909, 1920, 1927, 1948, 1975, and 1978. 

Water quality was likely very good for the several hundred years preceding Euro-American settlement. 
Periods of higher sediment yield would have occurred during flood events, spring runoff, and may have 
occurred locally due to the grazing patterns of bison. However, because soils over most of the Elkhorns 
are not naturally highly erosive, excessive natural levels of sedimentation would not have been likely. Some 
very localized stretches of springs/stream undoubtably were naturally high in metaJs, low in pH, or had 
other characteristics of poor water quality because of some natural geologic feature they were in contact 
with. 

Several major streams drain the Elkhorn Mountains. Exclusive of the Deeriodge National Forest, they 
include Crow, Indian, and Beaver Creeks on the east, McClellan and Warm Springs, and Prickly Pear 
Creeks on the west. Many of these streams were tributaries of the mainstem Missouri River; hence, they 
were an important link between the ecology of the Missouri River Basin and the Elkhorn Mountains 
themselves. 

CROW CREEK 

Crow Creek drains Tizer Basin and the southeast portion of the Elkhorns. It flowed into the Missouri River 
near present-day Toston. Streams in the Crow Creek drainage are underlain by folded sedimentary rocks 
or glacial/alluvial deposits. Major perennial tributaries of Crow Creek and numerous first and second order 
drainages feed Crow Creek. Most of the first and second order drainages are intermittent and receive flow 
only after precipitation events, from snowmelt, groundwater recharge, and/or springs. 

Crow Creek drains the largest area about 77 square miles, of any of the Elkhorn streams. In addition, Crow 
Creek has the highest discharge, averaging about 48 cubic feet/second per day. The maximum discharge 
was recorded in 1981 at 3,640 cubic feet/second (flood conditions) and the minimum discharge on record 
occurred in 1922 at 1.4 cubic feet/second. Stream gradients and morphology are variable in Crow Creek. 
Generally, the gradient is less than 3 percent with a straight to sinuous stream course on the National 
Forest, and a more meandering condition occurring from the Forest Boundary to the Missouri River. 

The streams which drain into Crow Creek include both high and moderate gradient profiles. In general, 
high gradient streams have narrow, v-shaped bottoms, steep sides, steep gradients (10-15%) and mostly 
straight to slightly sinuous shapes on a surface or map view. These streams normally do not have much 
of a developed floodplain and riparian vegetation is found along a narrow corridor parallelling the stream- 
bank. These streams provide short-lived, high-energy flows during storms and rapid runoff periods. The 
relatively steep gradient indicates that there is a tendency toward downcutting in order to achieve an 
equilibrium with the surrounding landscape. 

Within this area, moderate gradient streams are associated with glacial activity in Tizer Basin. These 
streams, which are located in glaciated valleys, have wider, U-shaped bottoms, steep sides, gradients 
around 5-10% and somewhat more sinuous configurations than high gradient streams. Often, these 



45 



streams have wider riparian areas within a fairly well-developed floodplain. Streams with moderate gradi- 
ents include Wilson, Tizer/Little Tizer, lower Clear, and lower South Fork Crow Creeks. 

INDIAN CREEK 

Indian Creek drains a portion of the east Elkhorns. flow:ng to the Missouri River near present-day 
Townsend. Indian Creek drains about 21 square miles and has an average daily discharge of about 3 cubic 
feet second. Gradients are generally about 10 percent, above the confluence of the West Fork, and 3-5 
percent from the West Fork to the Missouri River. Tributaries include Sheps Gulch and the West Fork of 
Indian Creek. Indian Creek reportedly disappeared into the limestone outcrops that characterize its course 
through the Limestone Hills, and then reappeared in the lower 3 miles to its confluence with the Missouri. 

BEAVER CREEK 

Beaver Creek drains a portion of the east Elkhorns, flowing into the Missouri near present-day Winston. 
Beaver Creek and its tributaries are straight to very slightly sinuous in map view, indicative of fairly high 
gradients. Streams in the Beaver Creek drainage are primarily underlain by volcanic andesite type rocks. 
Unlike Crow Creek, Beaver Creek is fed by few, but perennial streams. These streams have v-shaped 
bottoms, and gradients of 10-15 percent in the upper reaches. The lower few miles of the South Fork of 
Beaver Creek have a more gentle gradient (5% or less). 

Beaver Creek drains an area of about 30 square miles, and has an average discharge of about 10 cubic 
feet/second per day. Tributaries include Weasel, South Fork Beaver, North Pole, Sawmill, and Badger 
Creeks. 

MCCLELLAN CREEK 

McClellan Creek drains the northwest Elkhorns flowing into Prickly Pear Creek near present-day East 
Helena. It drams an area of about 33 square miles and has an average daily discharge of about 4 cubic 
feet/second. It discharged about 1,730 cubic feet/second during flood conditions in 1981. Tributaries 
include Tepee, Jackson, Crystal, Maupin, Willard, and East Fork McClellan Creeks. 

McClellan Creek is one of only 2 municipal watersheds on the Helena National Forest. As such, Forest-Wide 
management direction applies. This direction includes coordination with the municipality and State Water 
Quality Bureau for any projects proposed within the watershed which could potentially degrade water 
quality. 

McClellan Creek and its tributary streams are underlain primarily by igneous rocks. Streams are moderately 
sinuous in map view with gradients varying from moderate to steep. Moderate gradients such as in Maupin, 
McClellan, and East Fork McClellan Creeks appear to be related to valley glaciers which widened and 
flattened the stream bottoms. Uplands are not as steep, particularly to the east of McClellan Creek and in 
the Maupin Creek drainage. The remaining tributaries have steeper gradients, v-shaped bottoms, and 
steep-sided uplands. The upper reaches of the tributaries, except Maupin Creek, drain glaciaJ cirque 
basins. 

WARM SPRINGS CREEK 

Warm Springs Creek drains about 21 square miles on the west portion of the Elkhorns. It flows into Prickfy 
Pear Creek near present-day Alhambra. Warm Springs Creek has an average daily discharge of about 1 .5 
cubic feet/second, but ran over 970 cubic feet/second during the 1981 flood. Gradients are generally low 



46 



to moderate. Tributaries include North. South, and Middle Forks. Hogan Creek, Browns Gulch. Badger 
Creek, and Rattlesnake Creek 

Warm Springs Creek and its tributaries are underlain primarily by igneous rocks. Warm Springs Creek has 
a shallow gradient, wide valley bottom, somewhat sinuous morphology in map view, and moderately 
sloping uplands. Conversely, Its tributaries have v-shaped bottoms, steeper gradients, steeper-sided 
uplands, and more sinuous morphologies in map view. Warm water emerges in the drainage near its 
confluence with Prickly Pear Creek at Alhambra. 

PRICKLY PEAR CREEK 

Prickly Pear Creek drains about 192 square miles on the west end of the Elkhorns. It has an average daily 
discharge of about 48 cubic feet/second, but ran over 4,000 cubic feeVsecond during the flood of 1981 . 
Gradients are generally moderate, but with a 'stair step' pattern as a result of glacial scouring. 

Tributaries of Prickly Pear Creek are underlain primarily by the igneous intrusive rocks. There are three 
tributaries of Prickly Pear within the area of consideration. These include Black Canyon, Rabbit Gulch, and 
Weimer Creeks. All can be described as high gradient streams similar to those described for Crow Creek. 

b. Ground Water 

Little information exists about groundwater in the mountainous portions of the Elkhorns. However, mineral 
exploration drilling in the upland areas of Indian Creek has intercepted water very regularly at depths of 
1 50 to 200 feet. This is water that is found in fractured volcanic and granitic-type rocks. In the foothills west 
of Radersburg, groundwater was reported to have been intercepted at depths of 200-250 feet below the 
surface (Lorenz and McMurtry 1956). 

Springs are the only widespread indicator of groundwater quality and subsurface flow regimes and are 
thus discussed here. Geologic information on the water-bearing properties of rocks in the Elkhorns 
provides an indirect source of information on groundwater activity; however, only sedimentary rocks are 
discussed in the literature. 

Groundwater is recharged by precipitation, including rain and snow. Recharge occurs by seepage of 
precipitation from higher areas, through soils and into fractures or permeable parts of bedrock in lower 
areas. Recharge may also have occurred in locations where beaver dams backed up water against 
permeable strata or soils. In some places, deeper rocks recharge overlying rocks. This is the case for the 
gravel benches that flank the Elkhorns. Recharge can be modified by vegetation uptake or by impermeable 
bedrock. It is believed that shallower groundwater systems respond fairly rapidly to precipitation and 
short-term climate factors, whereas deeper groundwater systems are more stable. 

Mapping of springs indicated a correlation with volcanic landtypes. These springs occur on a wide range 
of slopes. In addition, the Limestone Hills on the east side of the Elkhorns have a low potentiaJ for springs 
and seeps, as a result of the highly porous nature of the limestone parent material. 

Springs are often located at the heads of drainages, along streams and in other upland areas. Springs 
located at the heads of drainages are believed to be long-lived and have contributed to the development 
of the drainage. In other cases, spring locations may have changed as a result of fractures sealing 
themselves, adjustments from earthquakes, trampling by animals, or changes in vegetation patterns. New 
springs may have occurred as a result of a mass movement event. The natural water yield and water quality 
of springs in the Elkhorns are not known; however, with the possible exception of springs flowing through 
mineralized areas, water quality was likely good. 



47 



c. Wetlands and Floodplains 

Although a universal wetland definition is not available, wetlands include one or more of the following three 
attributes: (1) area that supports hydrophytes, (water-loving plants) at least periodically; (2) underlying 
hydric soils; and (3) hydrology is such that an area is saturated or covered with water at some time during 
the growing season of each year (Cowardin et al. 1979). The distribution of wetlands in the Elkhorns is 
closely correlated with glacial and alluvial deposits, and with the location of springs. Natural wetlands 
would have been larger and more widely distributed than today due to the effects of beaver dams and the 
absence of diversions for livestock and agriculture. Large, natural wetland areas resulting from springs and 
seeps occurred where Crow Creek intersected the Missouri River. 

Floodplains were not dominant features of the Elkhorn landscape due to the narrowness of most stream 
valleys and steep slopes. Floodplains were generally confined to stream areas that had lower gradients, 
such as the lower portions of Crow and South Fork Crow Creeks. 

2. Existing Condition 

a. Surface Water 

Man's activities have often been concentrated in the drainages of the Elkhorns. These activites, which 
include irrigation diversions, road and trail construction, placer mining, recreational camping, and livestock 
grazing, have resulted in soil compaction and increased soil erosion. The concentration of these activities 
has resulted in a relatively rapid degradation of watersheds when compared to the timeframe over which 
watersheds developed. The net result of these activities has been a decline and change in fish and wildlife 
populations and modifications in the function of stream systems, particularly in areas of extensive placer 
mining. 

The important linkage between the Elkhorns and the Missouri River has been altered due to man's 
activities. Crow Creek, once an important tributary of the Upper Missouri system, no longer reaches the 
River due to extensive irrigation networks. Beaver Creek generally dries up in early summer before reaching 
Canyon Ferry Resevoir. Indian Creek is dry for several miles upstream from the Missouri due to the past 
and present influences of mining. 

Although water yields are probably not substantially different now relative to the pre-settlement period, the 
rate and timing of yields may be more variable today than under the natural influences of beaver and 
normal floodplain processes. That is, under a natural disturbance regime, the difference in yield between 
seasons would have fluctuated less due to the normal functioning of watersheds to store water and 
sediments. 

The colonization of trees in areas naturally maintained as grasslands has probably resulted in increased 
evapotranspiration and therefore a net loss in water yield. However, in other areas, timber harvest and the 
shading effect of tree colonization on snow melt rates have potentially increased water yields. Declining 
precipitation levels in the Helena area over the past 60 years (Appendix A), is thought to have resulted in 
less recharge to the groundwater system and hence less direct runoff into surface waters. 

Based on the amount of road building and placer mining activity that occurred in the period following the 
first discoveries of placer and lode mines (1 860' s- 1880), water quality was probably greatly degraded, 
especially regarding sediment increases in streams in these areas. After this period of intense activity, 
effects on water quality were localized to a particular operation. For example, Indian Creek was excavated 
for several miles during the 40s and 50s and downstream sedimentation was likely great when water was 
flowing. More recently, sedimentation problems would be related to sloughing of old oversteepened placer 



mining piles (especially during spring runoff and snowmelt), roads, and in a few active placering areas such 
as below Crow Creek Falls during 1983-84. Water quality is rapidly degraded if a placer operation 
discharges directly into a stream; however, the direct effects last only as long as discharge occurs. 
Indirectly, sediment is stored in gravels as a result of a placering and requires high flow events to suspend 
and transport the sediments downstream. 

Water quality was also affected by lode mining activity. Drainages from some underground mines are 
suspected to contain heavy metals and have poor water quality. Water runoff over dump piles and tailings 
would also affect water quality, especially where they are located close to streams or in drainage bottoms. 
The amount of sediment and heavy metals contributed to streams from dump piles and other mine waste 
areas is believed to be minimal since many are located in the uplands. 

In spite of known mining sedimentation, channel instability due to grazing, and sedimentation from roads 
(USDA - FS 1989), water monitoring results for the period 1988-1991 indicate that water quality on all 
Helena Forest streams is within State standards (HNF 1992). This demonstrates that it is possible to have 
good water quality in poorly functioning riparian systems. 

b. Ground Water 

As suggested under surface water above, it is likely that the amount of water yield in groundwater systems 
has decreased in the Elkhorns over the past 60 years. The results of a decrease in groundwater would be 
expressed as decreases in spring flows, and less flow to streams which are recharged by groundwater. 

In local situations, especially where placer mining has occurred, the groundwater tables have been 
lowered relative to the natural level. An example is in Indian Creek where groundwater tables are approxi- 
mately 1 50-200 feet below the surface in the upland parts of the drainage (based on exploration drilling 
efforts). 

To date, very little water quality sampling has occurred for groundwater resources. The few water quality 
samples taken in 1991 suggest that groundwater sources are not contaminated by heavy metals. 

b. Wetlands and Floodplains 

The aerial extent of wetlands has declined from 'natural' conditions due to the removal of both beaver from 
trapping, and the destruction of riparian vegetation relative to livestock grazing. In addition, extensive 
diversion of water for irrigation and mining has resulted in the net loss of both wetlands and floodplains. 

3. Forest Plan/RMP - Desired Condition 

Overall Helena Forest Plan goals for water include: (1) Maintain high quality water to protect fisheries 
habitat, water-based recreation opportunities, and municipal water supplies and (2) meet or exceed state 
and Federal water quality standards. 

To meet these goals, the Plan outlines that soil and water conservation practices (Soil and Water Conserva- 
tion Handbook -FSH 2509.22) will be applied, and that the quality of water coming from degraded situations 
on Forest lands will be improved through watershed restoration projects. 

Additional guidance is as follows: 

(1) Projects involving significant vegetation removal will require a watershed cumulative effects feasibility 
analysis to ensure that water yield or sediment will not increase beyond acceptable limits. 



49 



(2) Water rights will be claimed for appropriate water bodies and streams. Instream flows adequate to 
protect the aquatic environment will be maintained during any project which removes water from any 
stream. 

(3) Discourage concentrated use, such as campsites and roads in riparian areas. Close wet meadows and 
wet areas to nonsnow ORV's. 

(4) Provide vegetative cover adjacent to streams to serve as a filter strip for sediment and maintain an 
optimum water temperature, as well as provide large debris for long-term instream fish cover and pooling. 
Where vegetative manipulation is possible, the activities will strive to achieve a balance of age classes and 
desired species composition. 

More specific Plan direction for water in the Elkhorns states that water quality and stream stability, 
particularly in McClellan Creek, which contributes to the East Helena municipal water suppy will be 
maintained or improved. 

The BLM Resource Management Plan states that water quality will be maintained or improved, and that 
whenever possible, roads and utility corridors will avoid riparian zones. 

The overall desired condition for the water resources in the Elkhorns is as follows: 

Watersheds function within their inherent natural range of variation as water catchments. They 
dissipate precipitation energy and efficiently absorb water, gradually releasing high quality 
water to streams, lakes, and upland seeps. 

Streambanks and their associated zones of influence (riparian and adjacent valley bottom 
and/or uplands) have sufficient ground cover and stability, which maintain streambank and 
channel erosion within the natural range of variation. 

4. Management Direction 

The focus of management to achieve the desired condition for water in the Elkhorns will be to restore 
watersheds in terms of streambanks, stream channels, and riparian vegetation. The management of 
livestock, recreation, mining, and the reintroduction of beaver (and rehabilitation of beaver habitat) will be 
considered as important tools. 

In addition, site specific sources of water pollution will need to be identified and corrected. Adverse 
changes in watershed function due to specific existing roads, harvest units, mining activities, grazing, and 
recreational activities will be identified and properly addressed through management changes, administra- 
tion, improvements, rehabilitation, etc. The effectiveness of such measures will need to be monitored and 
adjustments made if necessary. 

Areas where inherent site conditions are highly altered such as placer mine spoils, severely downcut or 
widened stream channels, etc. will need to be assessed on a case by case basis as to the potential for 
rehabilitation and the appropriate course of action. In cooperation with MDFWP and private landowners, 
the Forest Service and BLM will work to help restore the ecological connection of the Elkhorn streams with 
the Missouri River. 



50 



D. Vegetation 

1. Introduction 

a. Overall Vegetation (from S. Gilbert) 

The following analysis is for the 1 30,700 acres in the Elkhorns that includes the Helena Forest and the BLM 
lands on the east side of the Elkhorns. The majority of the area has forest site potential. However, 
grass/shrub meadows make up (22%) a large component of the total vegetation. A breakdown of the 
categories for the whole area is as follows: 



Forested Area (73.3%) 




Non-Forested Area 
(27.3%) 




> 50% crown cover 
30-50% crown cover 
1 0-30% crown cover 
seed/sapling stands 


33.1% 
17.4% 
5.2% 
17.6% 


Dry Meadow 
Wet Meadow 
Rock 
Surface Water 


21.6% 
0.6% 
4.5% 
< 1% 



b. Forest Characterization (from S. Gilbert) 

The forested portion of the Elkhorns represents a variety of climatic conditions, from warm to very cold and 
from dry to wet. Based on interpretations of habitat type groups, the forest potential represents the 
following temperature and moisture conditions: 



Warm and very dry 1 5% 
Warm and dry 13% 
Warm and moist 1 2% 
Cool and moist 13% 
Cool and wet 2% 


Cold and moist 27% 
Cold and wet 2% 
Cold and dry 1% 
Very cold/dry 1 5% 







c. Aspen In the Elkhorns (from S. Douthett) 

Aspen communities within the Northern Rocky Mountains can be broken into two distinct types, serai and 
stable. The stable stands are generally small (less than 5 acres) and scattered in distribution. They occur 
mostly along streams and meadow fringes and transitional areas between coniferous forest and grass- 
lands. Functionally, these aspen represent a single clone that regenerates through the root system in 
response to disturbance such as fire or beaver cutting. This kind of aspen requires seasonally high water 
and is often associated with riparian shrubs and grass/forbs. Stable aspen occur in the northern area of 
the Elkhorns in association with perched water tables. Most of the stable aspen stands in the Elkhorns are 
related to riparian areas and compete with the willow species for dominance along streambanks. However, 
unlike willow, which can tolerate surface moisture, aspen grow above the high water mark and send roots 
toward the water table. 

Serai aspen function on mollic soils by moving onto a soil with a thin mollic surface layer. As the trees get 
larger, the leaf fall is greater in biomass and the mollic layer thickens. As coniferous trees move into areas, 
the mollic horizon is replaced by an albic horizon and the aspen stands begin to deteriorate and die out. 
Fire disturbance will replenish the soils and raise the pH high enough to allow for suckering and stand 
replenishment (Cryer and Murray 1992). 

Larger aspen stands are found in association with ponderosa pine areas in the northwest portion of the 
Elkhorn range. These stands may absent for long periods of time and live underground until some 
disturbance such as fire removes the conifer overstory. An increase in soil temperature, pH, and available 
light create conditions allowing suckering to take place. These aspen stands are usually single generation 



51 



Aspen communities are associated with the quality of the soils more than the type of parent material the 
soil is derived from. However, the more healthy stands of aspen generally grow on soils derived from 
basalts, limestone, and calcareous shales. Some of the least vigorous stands are found on granitic soils. 
Soils on wet sites may have a large amount of incorporated organic matter (Jones and DeByle 1985). 
Intermediate and drier stands have well developed dark surface soil horizons. Community types known to 
exist in the Elkhorns are aspen/Geyer's willow (riparian/stable), aspen/Kentucky bluegrass (riparian/ 
stable), and aspen/meadow rue (seral/upland). Although represented in the Elkhorns, quantity, condition, 
and specific locations have not been mapped. 

d. Bitterbrush (from K. Cuneo) 

Antelope bitterbrush is a long-lived, low to medium height shrub ranging from less than 3 feet to over 12 
feet tall. Its growth form varies from decumbent plants with multiple stems to upright specimens with only 
one stem. Decumbent plants tend to grow at higher elevations and more mesic sites (Bunting, Neuen- 
schwander, and Gruell 1985; Giunta, Stevens, Jorgensen, and Plummer 1978; Hitchcock and Cronquist 
1961). 

Although bitterbrush is one of the most widely distributed western shrubs, it is believed to have limited 
distribution in the Elkhorns presently. It occurs in three basic vegetation zones: dry conifer (usually 
ponderosa pine), shrub steppe, and juniper woodiand (Rice 1983). Precipitation on sites that support 
bitterbrush ranges from 8 to 34 inches per year. The most extensive stands occur where precipitation is 
between 12 and 23 inches. 

Bitterbrush grows on a variety of soils and there are numerous ecotypes adapted to different soil condi- 
tions. In general, it is found on deep to very deep coarse-textured, well-drained, young soils, although 
stands may occasionally be found on clay-rich sites (Clark and Britton 1985). It is a extremely deep-rooted 
species. This growth habitat allows it to grow on very well drained sites and to successfully survive 
droughty conditions (Tew 1983). 

Rodents play an important role in the reproduction of bitterbrush. They can transport seeds up 1 ,000 feet 
to a storage spot in groups of 1 to 1 000 seeds (Nord 1 965). Up to 50 percent of mature shrubs may have 
originated from such rodent caches (Martin and Driver 1983). 

Bitterbrush plants reach seed-bearing age in 8 to 20 years, depending on site conditions. The importance 
of sexual reproduction to stand maintenance varies with ecotype. In upright forms, it is probably the only 
means of reproduction. In decumbent forms it is less important, and these forms do produce less seed 
(Giunta et al. 1978). 

Bitterbrush regenerates after fire either by sprouting or from off-site seed cached by rodents (Nord 1965). 
Sprouting is generally more successful in plants with a decumbent growth form. Plant age and vigor 
contribute to the sprouting response. Shrubs less than 5 or greater than 60 years old do not sprout well. 
Competition from other vegetation before or after a fire lowers bitterbrush vigor and reduces its ability to 
sprout. Even though bitterbrush is often killed outright by fire, it often occurs in communities with a high 
fire frequency. Fire may be necessary to maintain populations of bitterbrush by removing competing 
vegetation and baring mineral soil, which favors rodent seed caching (Driver et al. 1 980, Sherman and 
Chilcote 1972). 

The distribution of bitterbrush is thought to correspond with ELU's 1 and 4 in the Elkhorn Mountains. 
However, more specific distribution information and classification of growth types (decumbent vs. upright) 
is needed to facilitate the design of management practices used to improve or sustain current bitterbrusrt 
stands. 

e. Grassland Characterization (from S. Douthett) 

The lower elevations of the Elkhorns are dominated by grasslands andshrublands with coniferous forests 
occurring as fragmented patches within the landscape. Riparian areas are dispersed throughout the 
grasslands along stream channels, subsurface watercourses, and springs and seeps. 

52 



Various sources describing the native vegetation of the United States break the continent into broad 
vegetative types called rangeland types. The grassland/shrubland component of the Elkhorn landscape 
is comprised of a mix of rangeland types or associations. These grasslands/shrublands have characteris- 
tics of mixed forest, cold desert shrub, and shortgrass prairie associations (Sampson 1962). Other 
references would indicate that Elkhorn range consists of a mix of Palouse prairie grassland, cold desert 
shrub, and mountain browse (Holechek et al. 1989), or fescue prairie (fescue consociation) and Palouse 
prairie (Agropyron-Festuca) (Gould & Shaw 1 983). These differences in type descriptions demonstrate that 
the Elkhorn grasslands/shrublands are really inclusions of several associations which exist on the outer 
limits of their respective ranges. Habitat types within these grasslands are representative of any of these 
associations but not in "pure" form. A listing of these habitat types and their characteristics are found in 
tabular form in Appendix D. 

Because grassland/shrubland types were subject to environmental processes such as the interactions of 
drought, fire and herbivory, the whole system was typically disturbance-related. Ecological serai stages 
reflected the disturbance processes. All serai stages were represented at any given time in a patterned 
relationship that balanced the ecosystem in such a way as to prevent catastrophic changes as a result of 
disturbance events. The naturally occurring ranges of serai conditions were estimated (based on field 
observations) as follows: 





Late 


Mid 


Early 


Grassland 
Shrubland 


60-80% 
40-60% 


10-30% 
20-40% 


10-20% 
20-30% 



Variability within these ranges is dependent on the site potential and climatic conditions. Site potential 
refers to soils, habitat types and topographical attributes. Climatic conditions reflect site specific moisture 
regimes and drought cycles (Mueggler and Stewart 1978). 

Within any habitat type, the potential for the invasion of "increaser* plants exists following fire. There is a 
flush of forb production for the first 3-5 years following a fire, many of which are fire dependent and are 
only present while fire-released nutrients are available in the soil. The response in terms of grassland/ 
shrubland composition is dependent on moisture conditions and site potential attributes. 

f. Riparian Characterization (from B. Ihle, C. Maynard) 

Riparian vegetation are those plant species normally associated with water. These •water-loving' species 
include cottonwood, aspen, willow, alder, dogwood, certain grasses (like tufted hairgrass), forbs, and 
sedges. Riparian areas within the Elkhorns include lands adjacent to essentially all perennial streams, lakes 
and wetlands. Riparian site potential in the Elkhorns varies from narrow, structurally controlled, high 
gradient streams (eg. Beaver Creek) to relatively unconfined, low-gradient streams (eg. Eagle Creek). 

Typically, riparian areas were characterized by highly productive vegetation occupying soils with high 
organic matter and high water holding capacity. These areas functioned naturally as a sponge - storing 
and gradually releasing water throughout the summer months. The addition of beaver dams in lower 
gradient stream reaches complimented the natural "sponge effect" by increasing the amount of riparian 
vegetation in a given basin. 

Approximately 273 miles of stream and 28 distinct watersheds are found in the Elkhorn Mountains (within 
the boundaries of the Helena N.F.) Of these, 70% (197 stream miles) are 1st order streams, 22% percent 
are 2nd order streams, and only 4% are 3rd order streams. The only fourth order stream consists of 5 miles 
of main stem Crow Creek. Crow Creek is the largest watershed in the Elkhorns, containing 37% of the total 
stream miles. 

To effectively categorize segments of these streams for appropriate use and management recommenda- 
tions, a forestwide riparian classification system is being developed. Stream and non-stream riparian sites 
have been stratified into groupings or aggregates based on similarities in landform and geology. These 
characteristics have been proven to correlate closely with changes in stream type and associated features. 

53 



Forestwide, 31 "riparian aggregates' have been mapped and classified, twenty-five of which occur in the 
Elkhorns (Figure 10) (see also Appendix E). Each riparian aggregate is described by stream gradient, 
valley bottom shape and width, dominant substrate and bank stability, and other features. Aggregates 
commonly have 2-3 dominant potential plant community types, each with a variety of possible successional 
stages. In addition, each aggregate may have up to 3 dominant soil types and possible inclusions. 

In the Elkhorns, rolling uplands, slopes and ridges underlain by volcanic and metasedimentary parent 
material account for 52% of the land mass and 33% of the total stream miles. These aggregates (2-4, 1 8, 
1 9) are the dominant components of ecological landscape units 3 and 4. 

Glaciated landforms such as glacial trough walls, cirque basins, moraines and till deposits (Aggregates 
20-28) compose about 20% of the Elkhorn landscape including 30% of the total Elkhorn stream miles. 
These sites are found primarily in ELU 2 and in limited portions of ELU 1. The remainder of ELU 1 is 
dominated by granitic rolling uplands, slopes and ridges (Aggregates 10,11) which account for just under 
20% of both the land mass and total stream miles in the Elkhorn Mountains. 

Mountain slopes and ridges, breaklands, and dip slopes underlain by limestone parent material (Aggre- 
gates 1 , 1 2, 1 3) account for only 5-6% of the total land mass within the Forest boundary and 3% of the total 
stream miles. 

Limestone and metasedimentary landforms and geologic types are dominant on land ownerships outside 
of the Forest boundary on BLM and private lands. 



2. Ecological Landtype Units 

a. Ecological Landscape Unit #1 (Landtype Association #5 and #6) 

Summary: 



RNV: 


open 'old growth" (20-40%) ponderosa stands on lower elevations 

denser lodgepole, Douglas fir in higher elevations 

diverse understory; large aspen stands 

1-2% riparian; and 16-18% grasslands in LTA 5 

about 1 % riparian and 3-4% grasslands in LTA 6 


EC: 


species composition similar to RNV 

about 50% burned in 1988 Warm Springs Fire 

stands more dense; less (1 0%) ponderosa pine old growth 

decline in riparian areas (<1% now in both LTA's) and grasslands (13-15%, LTA 5; 2-3%, LTA 

6) 

decline in production of grassland biomass; greater level of bare soil 


DC: 


emphasis on moose, elk, and mule deer habitat 
structure, composition, and function within RNV 


MD: 


■manage" area burned in 1988 fire; prescribed and natural fire plan 

restore open savannah structure in ponderosa pine stands; increase diversity of plant species 

in the understory. 

increase grasslands; ground cover; riparian extent and function 

maintain and increase aspen 



54 



(1) Range of Natural Variation 

ELU 1 occurs in the northwest portion of the Elkhorn Mountains (see Figure 3) and is unique because of 
the granitic-derived soils and the component of ponderosa pine communities that occur within this 
delineation. 

FOREST VEGETATION (from S. Gilbert) 

Habitat types (Pfister 1977), or potential "climax' vegetation in this area, are indicative of warm and moist 
to dry conditions. Representative habitat types are Douglas fir/snowberry, Douglas fir/pinegrass, subalpine 
fir/grouse whortleberry, subalpine fir/beargrass, subalpine fir/pinegrass. Douglas fir, and subalpine fir are 
the indicated climax species (in the absence of disturbance). Ponderosa pine was a common serai species 
on the lower, drier sites. Quaking aspen was common to draws and swales at low to mid-elevations. 

Potential understory shrubs included serviceberry, snowberry, spirea, chokecherry, gooseberry, grouse 
whortleberry, Oregon grape, kinnikinnick, and common juniper. Potential understory forbs and grasses 
included hearleaf arnica, arrowleaf balsamroot and false Solomon's seal, pinegrass, beargrass, elk sedge, 
bluebunch wheatgrass, Idaho fescue and rough fescue. 

Fire played a dominant role in shaping species composition and structure of forest stands in this area 
Frequent, (reoccurring at 5 to 40 year intervals) fires were characteristic in these stands. Because of this 
frequency, fuels were sparse to limited in the understory and fire intensities were generally low, often 
creeping along the ground. At the lower elevations, Douglas fir seedlings, which requires shade for 
establishment, were inhibited by the frequent fire and open stand conditions. Therefore, open savannah- 
like stands of mature and older ponderosa pine were typically maintained. At higher elevations, stands of 
lodgepole pine were more commonly maintained by the frequent fire regime of these sites. Aspen and 
many of the shrub species found in this area are also adapted to the frequent occurance of low intensity 
fires and resprouting from the root crown or from rhizomes is stimulated by this type of disturbance. 

Individual fires might have been relatively small and covered only a single aspect, or they might have 
burned for a number of days and covered variable aspects over a large area Periodically, due to longer 
fire intervals (or due to steeper slopes) more severe burning conditions would have occurred and removed 
overstory trees on several hundred acres. 

Wind and drought also influenced the variability found in this ELU over time. The combination of limited 
rainfall and sandy soils were effective in limiting the moisture available for plant growth; the establishment 
of tree seedlings was especially affected by drought conditions in this ELU. Wind affected both the role 
of fire in lodgepole stands as well as directly affecting stands through 'blowdown' events. Lodgepole pine 
stands tend to develop under dense conditions and frequently have small root systems. The trees in the 
stand tend to protect each other and the stand remains relatively windfirm as long as the stand is intact. 
However, as they are opened up by some agent (mountain pine beetle, understory burn, etc) the stand 
becomes increasingly susceptible to damage from wind. 

As a result of the natural disturbance regimes in this ELU, stand structures were of at least two distinct 
types. Single open grown (10-50% overstory canopy) stands of trees larger than 9 inches diameter and 
up to 450 years of age would have been found at the lower elevations. On these sites seedlings that 
escaped underburns were found in low densities, and a few snags were consistently maintained over time 
by the endemic population of bark beetles. Snags from the older trees would have often had soft heartwood 
due to the effects of rot. The understory would have been of variable density and periodically thinned by 
the low intensity fires. Generally, understory production of shrubs, forbs, and grasses would have been 
relatively high because of the open canopy conditions that allowed light to the forest floor. Bitterbrush was 
believed to be an important understory plant under natural conditions. Some variation of canopy coverage 
occurred due to local factors such as aspect, fire intensity, and rock content of the soil surface. 

Stands of Douglas-fir and lodgepole pine that included several age classes occurred at the higher 
elevations in this ELU. Because of its adaptation to fire, lodgepole pine was maintained as the dominant 
species on portions of this ELU. Spruce and subalpine fir are very susceptible to fire and would have been 



55 



maintained only in the moister inclusions within this ELU. In these moist areas, large old trees were 
common. 

GRASSLAND VEGETATION (from S. Douthett) 

Grassland/shrubland complexes were not only found in the understory of open stands, but were also found 
as scattered patches throughout this ELU. Some larger grassland patches were found at lower elevations. 
Grasslands at higher elevations consisted primarily of rough fescue dominated community types, whereas 
lower elevation areas were dominated by bluebunch wheatgrass and Idaho fescue. Productivity of these 
sites varied from 300-1000 lbs. /acre annual biomass. 

RIPARIAN CONDITIONS (from C. Maynard) 

Six distinct watersheds formed in the granitic parent material of the slopes, ridges and rolling uplands of 
this portion of the Elkhorns landscape. Due to the permeability of this sandy textured material, the slopes 
and ridges are largely undisected. Streams tend to be widely spaced and weakly incised flowing through 
rolling, concave valley bottoms. Stream gradients are moderately steep, ranging from 7 to 16%, and have 
low sinuosity. Large boulders are common within the streams, forming pool habitat and often a step pool 
sequence. However, because the granitic bedrock decomposes to a coarse sand and fine gravel, fish 
spawning beds are limited in these streams. Woody debris of various sizes is common in these streams 
and may affect as much as 30% of the channel area. Stream banks are loosely aggregated, medium to 
coarse sandy loam over cobbles and boulders, and have limited amounts of organic matter. Up to 1 0% 
of the streamside sites are boulder/cobble bars with little or no vegetation. 

Upper streamside terraces reflect the influence of relatively frequent fires with large amounts of organic 
matter having been incorporated into the soil profiles. These terraces and valley bottoms support open- 
grown stands of Douglas fir and Ponderosa pine, with aspen often present as a co-dominant overstory 
species. At slightly higher elevations and on and cooler sites Engleman spruce and lodgepole pine occur 
in conjunction with Douglas fir. Shrubs such as dogwood, alder, willow and currant dominate the understo- 
ry or may form the overstory along streambanks. On sidebars and in depressions, forb and grass 
dominated communities are found. Sidehill seeps are associated with higher mountain slopes, some of 
which support spruce and subalpine fir with forbs in the understory, while others support communities of 
willow, sedges, and forbs. 

Small acreages of glacial till deposits are also included in this ecological landscape unit. Associated with 
these deposits are sites where saturated conditions are common and hydric soils have developed. The 
wetland hydrology of these locations supports hydrophytic vegetation such as sedges, rushes, willows and 
alders. 

(2) Existing Condition 

FOREST VEGETATION (from S. Gilbert) 

Vegetative composition of the area is similar to the pre-settlement conditions, although the structure, 
extensiveness, and vigor of some vegetative communities has changed. 

The changes from pre-settlement are owed largely to changes in the fire regime. Native American fire starts 
have been eliminated, and in addition, grazing by domestic livestock has reduced the quantity of fine fuels 
and increased the percentages of bare ground. Therefore, low intensity fire is no longer likely. Timber cut 
for lumber, firewood, and coke production, and fires started during mining exploration work were estimated 
to be quite extensive in ELU 1 due to its proximity to the Helena Valley. Hence, much of the existing timber 
resource can be considered "second growth*. In conjunction with settlement of this area, fire suppression 
became effective, and most fires that started were extinguished, especially in the lower elevation, inhabited 
areas. 

These changes have resulted in the successful establishment of Douglas fir at high densities in stands 
once predominated by ponderosa pine, an increase in the density of lodgepole pine stands, and an 
increase in the accumulation of fuels in v doqhair' lodgepole stands. Many large ponderosa pine with 

56 



numerous fire scars are still evident. However, due to limitations in water and nutrients, the greater number 
of trees present are increasingly susceptible to stress. 

Drought has played the same role as during presettlement conditions. However, its effects are greater 
because of the 'stress* associated with greater densities of trees. Higher stand densities have also 
increased the susceptibility of these stands to attack by mountain pine, Ips, and western pine beetles. 
Periodically, extensive losses of overstory trees (25-50%) can be expected from beetle "kill", This in turn 
creates down woody fuels at greater levels than ever occurred naturally (20-50 tons/acre) and could 
potentially change the characteristic nature and behavior of fire from high frequency, low intensity to low 
frequency, high intensity cycles. The 1988 Warm Springs Fire which created stands replacement condi- 
tions on 24,000 acres, affected the higher elevations in this ELU. In these areas, conditions range from 
areas of bare mineral soil to areas of very dense lodgepole pine seedlings. Many of the fire-adapted 
species such as aspen, spirea, and several forbs are found in abundance in portions of the burned area. 
One year after the fire, in 1989, morel mushrooms were found in abundance. 

Evidence of both redbelt and blowdown are found in this ELU. Portions of the Warm Springs fire were 
thought to have been fueled by downed wood resulting from a redbelt incident in the 1 950's (S. Gilbert, 
pers. commun.). In addition, several patches of blown down timber occur in Dutchman Creek. Blown down 
events often occur after heavy wet snowfall events. 

The structure of many of the stands has changed. What were once open ponderosa pine stands at lower 
elevations now have a few ponderosa pine, but 60-80 year old Douglas fir provide most of the canopy 
coverage and basal area. The understory plants are less dense and have low vigor in most stands. Trees 
have colonized into areas that had been maintained as meadows. Aspen is still a noticable component in 
this ELU (especially in the Warm Springs Fire), but "old" stands are predominantly one age class, are 
riddled with disease, and have little or no reproduction. 

GRASSLAND VEGETATION (from S. Douthett) 

Grassland have declined, but are still represented at the lower ends of their natural ranges in this ELU. The 
production of biomass has declined and the extent of exposed soil and rock has increased. 

RIPARIAN CONDITIONS (from C. Maynard) 

The current environment of ELU 1 encompasses roughly 75 square miles, or 34% of the land mass in the 
Elkhorn Mountains and supports 75 miles of streams, or 27% of stream miles within the Helena NF portion 
of the Elkhorns. This equates to a drainage density of 1 stream mile per square mile of land mass with 
riparian habitat constituting roughly 2% of the ELU (under 1 000 acres). The following watersheds constitute 
ELU 1. 



WATERSHED ID/NAME 


WATERSHED ACRES/STREAM 
MILES 


PERCENT OF WATERSHED 
IN ELU 1 


0904 McClellan Creek 


10,370 ac/23 str.mi. 


82% 


0822 Warm Springs Creek 


10,512 ac./ 19 str.mi. 


97% 


0821 Dutchman Creek 


3,713 ac./ 7 str.mi. 


100% 


0901 Maupin Creek 


3,718 ac./ 10 str.mi. 


100% 


0823 Strawberry Creek 


2,236 ac./ 6 str.mi. 


100% 


0822A Badger Creek 


808 ac./ 3 str.mi. 


100% 


0820 Prickly Pear Creek 


600 ac./ 2 str.mi. 


9% 



57 



WATERSHED ID/NAME 


WATERSHED ACRES/STREAM 
MILES 


PERCENT OF WATERSHED 
IN ELU 1 


0800 Watersheds Drain Off 
Forest 


14,253 ac./ 6 str.mi. 





Fifty percent of the land mass included in ELU 1 is contained within the McClellan and Warm Springs 
watersheds. A small percentage of these watersheds are included in ELU 2 as upper elevation cirque 
headwalls. These are glacially scoured slopes underlain by hard metasedimentary bedrock and commonly 
supporting subalpine fir and whrtebark pine communities. 

Although physical and structural characteristics of streams and valley bottoms in ELU 1 remain within the 
range of natural variation, vegetative features have changed. Presently, valley bottoms in this ELU charac- 
teristically support an overstory dominated by Douglas fir often with greater than 30% canopy closure as 
compared to canopies of less than 1 0% closure that were maintained by natural disturbance regimes. The 
effect of this increased canopy coverage and the shading that accompanies it has been a trend toward 
reduced populations of forbs and grasses. The result is a relatively scarce understory compared to 
•natural' conditions. Reduced understory vegetation may contribute to increased erosion rates in the 
loosely aggregated soils of this area. The exclusion of fire has also caused riparian and upland plant 
communities to move toward later serai stages. The percentages of sites dominated by spruce and 
subalpine fir are higher now, whereas earlier serai communities of willow, alder and forbs are fewer than 
found pre-settlement. Likewise, the acreage encompassed by wetlands such as those delineated on 
Willard Creek, and in Casey Meadows have declined and the structural integrity of hydric soils and 
hydrophytic vegetation communities altered. 

(3) Desired Condition 

Forest Plan direction for vegetation in this area (mainly MA E-4) states only that moose, elk, and mule deer 
habitat is 'optimized', and that silvacultural practices can be used as a management tool to maintain and 
improve vegetation diversity (if compatible with wildlife values). 

The desired condition for vegetation is to maintain the structure, function, and composition of vegetative 
communities within the range of natural variation. This in turn, will insure that the habitat for the endemic 
plant and animal species (provided none have already been 'lost*) is sustained over time. 

(4) Management Direction 

In order to implement the desired condition for this ELU, the primarily management emphasis is on 
restoring 'natural' stand structure in the lower elevations. In conjunction with restoring fire to this ecosys- 
tem, the effects of livestock grazing and recreation values (including big game security) must be consid- 
ered. An opportunity exists to look at the area burned by the 1 988 Warm Springs Fire and to plan for some 
natural and/or prescribed burn options. 

The extent of grasslands and riparian vegetation should be increased to within the natural range. In 
addition, the structure and composition of riparian areas should be modified to reflect more 'natural" 
conditions. 



58 



b. Ecological Landscape Unit #2 (Landtype Associations 7,8,10) 

Summary: 



RNV: 


mostly high elevation dense forest 

underburning in lodgepole on gentle slopes 

stand replacing fires 100-150 year intervals 

low within stand diversity; high between stand diversity 

8-10% riparian in LTA 10; 1-3% in LTA 7,8 

8-12% grasslands in LTA 10 


EC: 


similar to RNV 

stands somewhat denser; spruce and fir developing into older classes 

slight decline in riparian areas and grasslands 

loss of native grass species in high elevation meadows 


DC: 


emphasis on elk summer range and mountain goat habitat 
structure, composition, and function within RNV 


MD: 


underburn on gentle slopes where feasible 

break up large continuous age classes of lodgepole 

increase riparian and grassland in LTA 1 0; increase native grasses 

protect jurisdictional wetlands 



(1) Natural Range of Variation 

ELU #2 occurs in a southwest to northeast direction through the core of the Elkhorns Mountains (see 
Figure 3) and consists primarily of subalpine fir habitat types. Lodgepole pine is the dominant species 
within these stands. 

FOREST VEGETATION 

Habitat types in this area are indicative of the cool and moist, cold and moist and very cold and dry 
conditions. Representative habitat types are Subalpine fir/Grouse whortleberry -Grouse whortleberry, Sub- 
alpine fir/Grouse whortleberry-Pinegrass, Douglas fir/Twinflower-Pinegrass and Subalpine fir/Twinflower- 
Grouse whortleberry and Subalpine fir-Whrtebark pine/Grouse whortleberry. Subalpine fir is the climax 
species in most of the area; however, most of the area is dominated by lodgepole pine with subalpine fir, 
whitebark pine, spruce and Douglas fir present on a limited basis. 

Potential understory shrubs include grouse whortleberry, spirea, Oregon grape, blue huckleberry, com- 
mon juniper, twinflower, kinnikinnick, serviceberry and buffaloberry. The forbs and grasses potentially 
found in this ELU include broadleaf arnica, heartleaf arnica, sidebells pyrola, mountain sweetroot, northern 
bedstraw, western meadowrue and round-leaved violet, elk sedge and pinegrass. 

Fire was a dominant process affecting the forested stands in this area Fire scar evidence in the area 
indicates that low intensity understory burns occurred at about 40 year intervals, and stand replacing fires 
occurred at 1 00 to 1 50 year intervals. Few lodgepole stands were able to support more than two under- 
burns because subsequent fires tended to be more intense (burning trees killed in the previous fires) and 
burned the fire scars on the relatively thin-barked lodgepole trees surviving earlier fires. Underburns 
occurred on slopes less than 30%. Fires on steeper slopes "preheated" and moved into the crowns. When 
stand replacing fires occurred, the the boles of trees were generally not consumed. However, as indicated 
by a lack of down woody material in spite of slow decomposition rates, subsequent fires probably burned 
downed woody materials and reduced seedlings from the very high levels that often become established 
immediately after a stand replacing fire. Lotan et al. (1 985) reported that fire hazard is greatest for lodgepole 



59 



pine stands about 35 years after either a stand replacing fire or mountain pine beetles kill, and again at 
about 1 50 years when the regenerated stand begins to break apart due to the effects of various agents 
such as mountain pine beetle, rot or wind damage. 

Because of its adaptations to fire, lodgepole pine was maintained as the dominant tree species in this ELU. 
Douglas fir would have been maintained to a lesser degree by virtue of the thick bark on older trees. Spruce 
and subalpine fir are very susceptible to fire and were maintained at very low levels except on wetter 
portions of the area. 

The common shrubs exhibit three types of reactions to fire. Spirea and serviceberry sprout from surviving 
root crowns and are able to survive even severe fires, especially if soils are moist. Grouse whortleberry, 
blue huckleberry, buffaloberry and Oregon grape sprout from rhizomes or surviving root crowns, and are 
moderately resistant to fire kill. Common juniper, twinflower and kinnikinnick are susceptible to fire kill and 
usually reoccupy the site from lightly burned or missed patches. Common juniper is also reestablished by 
bird-dispersed seeds. The common forbs are all susceptible to fire damage. Their postfire survival strategy 
is primarily to sprout from rhizomes in lightly burned areas or by windborne seed. The grasses sprout from 
surviving rhizomes and usually provide a flush of new growth following cool to moderately severe fires. 

Wind, insects, and disease also affected the forests in this ELU. Large, intense fires would have been 
expected to sanitize the stand from the dwarf mistletoe parasite for long periods of time. Conversely, stands 
with underburns often had infected trees which survived. Due to the multi-storied effect this has created, 
the rate of infection in "new* stands increased. Where stands were heavily infected, high intensity fire was 
promoted by the presence of "witches brooms", spike tops and downed fuels. 

As a result of the interaction of wind, disease and insects, and fire, stand structure has tended toward 
lodgepole pine with one or two age classes present. Canopy coverage was generally greater than 50%; 
stands often originated with very high numbers of trees and tended to stabilize at high numbers (approxi- 
mately 5000 trees per acre) unless some other process such as a light underburn thinned the trees. 
Historically, there was very little vertical diversity within stands, but a great deal of diversity between 
adjacent stands. Due to the small and shallow root systems of lodgepole pine, most snags (about 90%) 
fell down 20 years after a fire or insect attack occurred (Lyon 1 984). Understory production of shrubs, herbs 
and grasses would have been relatively low due to the dense conifer development. Because many of the 
stand replacing tires were wind driven, these conditions would have occurred over large acreages within 
this ELU. 

GRASSLAND VEGETATION 

Although comprised mostly of forested vegetation and rock scree, grasslands are scattered in this ELU, 
and vary in size from less than 1 to over 1 00 acres. Rough fescue was the primary grassland species, 
although many of the parks had small inclusions of other grass species. 

RIPARIAN CONDITIONS 

This ecological landscape unit encompasses the Beaver, Prickly Pear, and Weimer Creek watersheds, and 
the upper elevation zone of the Crow Creek watershed. Glaciated landforms account for 80% of all stream 
miles in this ELU, nearly half of these are located in cirque basins and adjacent glaciated slopes. These 
sites commonly support upper subalpine vegetation types often dominated by spruce and subalpine fir 
with a variety of shrubs such as alder, maple, dogwood and currant contributing to the structural diversity 
of the understory. These basins serve as cachements, collecting and storing precipitation that falls 
primarily as snow and is released throughout the spring and summer as it mefts. Extensive riparian 
meadows occupy the basins where the gradients are less than 1 0%. In contrast, streams on the adjacent 
slopes have relatively steep gradients (10-16%) with bedrock-controlled bank structure. Large woody 
debris may occupy over 30% of the channel area in these mountain streams and often forms an important 
component of banks. 

Thirty five percent of the stream miles in ELU 2 flow through glacial till deposits. These sites occupy slightly 
lower elevational ranges and in addition to supporting spruce and subalpine fir, may support communities 
of Douglas-fir, aspen and cottonwood. These streams were occasionally dammed by beavers. Tnis 

60 



resulted in saturated conditions in the valley behind the dam, and an accumulation of sediments and 
organic matter. Plant communities of willow and sedge also developed on the moister sites. A small 
percentage (5%) of the riparian habitat in ELU 2 occurs as seeps with poorly defined channels flowing from 
glacial trough walls. These locations are generally dominated by alder communities growing on very rocky 
sites with little soil development. 

Just under 1 5% of the streams in ELU 2 are associated with unglaciated landforms. These are found flowing 
through rolling uplands and down mid-elevation slopes underlain by volcanic parent material. Valley 
bottoms in these areas are relatively narrow (less than 50 ft.) and generally steep. Adjacent sideslopes are 
often steep. Due to the limited permeability of the parent material, channels are moderately incised and 
commonly v V-shaped'. Alder and maple shrub communities dominate these riparian zones and are 
commonly rooted in a substrate consisting of a matt of organic matter over a shallow horizon of fine 
textured loam. This loam is in turn underlain by angular basalt gravel and cobbles. Woody debris in various 
stages of decomposition is an important component in soil profiles both on stream banks and on mid-level 
terraces. Volcanic bedrock often appears as stream bank material. 

The remaining 5% of the riparian sites in ELU 2 occur in conjunction with colluvial deposits of various 
geologic origin. These locations tend to be hummocky or slightly concave with flat to hummocky microre- 
lief. Drainage patterns may include seeps, bogs or springs, often with no clearly defined stream channel. 
The saturated conditions of these sites have allowed the development of hydric soils, which in turn support 
hydrophytic vegetation. 

(2) Existing Condition 

FOREST VEGETATION 

Vegetative composition has not changed from pre-settlement conditions. Fire, blowdown, mountain pine 
beetle and dwarf mistletoe continue to be the processes most likely to affect the forested stands in this 
area. 

Major portions of the ELU appear to have had stand replacing fires soon after the time of European 
settlement. Areas not burned at that time were frequently the high elevation subalpine firAwhitebark pine 
sites, especially those that were in or adjacent to rock scree. Periodic relatively small fires have occurred 
since that time, but none affected very significant acreages until the Warm Springs Fire in 1 988. The Warm 
Springs fire affected the north end of this ELU with mostly stand-replacement conditions. In these areas, 
conditions range from areas of bare mineral soil to areas of very dense lodgepole pine seedlings. Many 
of the fire-adapted species such as aspen, spirea, and several forbs are found in abundance in portions 
of the burned area. One year after the fire, in 1989, morel mushrooms were found in abundance. 

The major change in fire effects since the time of European settlement has been the near exclusion of the 
underburning type of fires that formerly eliminated down woody material and thinned stands. The lack of 
underburns has also allowed more subalpine fir and spruce to become established in the understory than 
would have naturally occurred. 

Blowdown events have continued to affect forested stands in this ELU. One large known patch occurs in 
the middle reaches along Wilson Creek. 

Mountain pine beetle has remained at an endemic level in the ELU because of the relatively young age 
and small diameter of most of the stands; however, most of those stands are now susceptible (average 
diameters greater than 8 inches, age greater than 80 years and elevations to 7100 feet). Mortality from 
25-50% of the trees over 8 inches dbh would be expected. Dwarf mistletoe effects are similar to the 
pre-settlement conditions. 

Stand structure is similar to the pre-settlement condition with the following exceptions: stands are some- 
what denser; subalpine fir and spruce have been able to establish and develop into larger size classes; 
and there is less age class diversity. 



61 



GRASSLAND VEGETATION 

Grasslands have declined to the lower end of their natural range in LTA 10. Due to the past influences of 
intensive sheep grazing, and the current influences of elk grazing, biomass production has declined, and 
the extent of exposed soil and rock has increased. Although some of these grasslands include non-native 
species such as Timothy, generally, species composition is thought to be similar to the pre-settlement 
condition. 

RIPARIAN CONDITIONS 

The 83 stream miles in this ELU (30% of all Elkhorn streams) drain roughly 66 square miles of land mass 
(30% of the range). This equates to a drainage density of 1.3 stream miles per squae mile of land mass, 
with riparian habitat composing 2-3% of the ELU. This includes 38% of the Crow watershed and 48% of 
its streams. Eighty percent of ELU 2 is encompassed by the Beaver Creek and upper Crow Creek 
watersheds. The following watersheds are included in this ELU. Acres of each watershed not contained 
in ELU 2 have been subtracted and accounted for elsewhere. 



WATERSHED ID/NAME 


WATERSHED ACRES/STREAM 
MILES 


PERCENT OF WATERSHED 
IN ELU 2 


1203 Beaver Creek 


14,428 ac./ 19.6 str.mi. 


98% 


0820 Prickly Pear Creek 


6,345 ac./ 13.3 str.mi. 


91% 


0822 Warm Springs Creek 


247 ac./ - 


3% 


0820A Weimer Creek 


632 ac./ 1.6 str.mi. 


100% 


1 206 Crow Creek 


21,000 ac/49 str.mi. 


38% 


0904 McClellan Creek 


2,303 ac./ 2 str.mi. 


17% 


1 201 Antelope Creek* 


484 ac./ - 


38% 


1203A N.Pole Creek* 


1 54 ac./ - 


25% 


1203B S.Pole Creek* 


30 ac./ - 


4% 


1203C Weasel Creek* 


70 ac./ - 


3% 


1 205A Indian Creek* 


383 ac./ 


12% 


1207A Johnny Gulch * 


84 ac./ 


6% 



•The portions of these small, first order watersheds included in this ecological land unit are upper elevation 
ridges (over 7000 ft.) with lodgepole, subalpine fir and whitebark pine communities. Stream do not originate 
at these sites, consequently no riparian habitat is found. 

In general, the present day composition of riparian habitats in ELU 2 remains within the range of natural 
variation. Exceptions are found in those locations impacted by historic mining activity such as upper Wilson 
Creek, where the bank structure and vegetation will remain in an altered state indefinitely. Sites that 
formerly supported vigorous shrub communities and provided desirable habitat for beaver have dimin- 
ished in both extent and composition. Areas within the cirque basin riparian meadows that receive heavy 
browsing or grazing by wildlife or domestic livestock presently have reduced shrub communities, and 
reduced levels of shrub regeneration. This is due to the annual utilization of woody species exceeding 
certain thresholds. Altered soil structure, as indicated by hoof caused hummocks, is also associated with 
grazed sites. 



62 



Jurisdictional wetlands that have been delineated near Tizer and Wilson Creeks occur in conjunction with 
Aggregates 25, 27. In keeping with the Federal regulations governing jurisdictional wetlands, activities that 
do not 'enhance the wetland characteristics " are prohibited. Inventory data indicates there may be as 
much as 500 acres within this ELU that qualifies for protection as jurisdictional wetlands. These wetlands 
may currently be impacted by grazing in the North Crow allotment. Other allotments, Tizer and Wilson are 
currently vacant. 

Extensive acreages of ELU 2 were impacted by the Warm Springs fire of 1 988, and those sites are now 
regenerating with earlier serai plant communities that include higher percentages of aspen than are found 
on unburned sites. 

(3) Desired Condition 

Forest Plan direction for vegetation in this area (mainly MA E-2) states only that mountain goat and summer 
elk range are'optimized', and that timber harvest does not occur in this area 

The desired condition for vegetation is to maintain the structure, function, and composition of vegetative 
communities within the range of natural variation. This in turn, will insure that the habitat for the endemic 
plant and animal species (provided none have already been "lost*) is sustained over time. 

(4) Management Direction 

This ELU is fairly similar to the RNV with the exception that 'between' stand diversity has been lost. That 
is, there are larger patches of continuous lodgepole of roughly the same age. Management direction is to 
explore opportunities to use natural fire within prescription to break up some of these solid blocks and 
reestablish more natural distributions of age classes. In addition, opportunities for underburning on gentle 
slopes of lodgepole pine should be explored. 

Jurisdictional wetlands should be protected and riparian habitat increased. The production and relative 
abundance of native grasses should be increased in the high elevation meadows found in this ELU. 

c. Ecological Landscape Unit #3 (Landtype Associations 1 , 3, and 9) 

Summary: 



RNV: 



EC: 



relatively open (10-50% canopy) Douglas fir stands 
10-33% grasslands; 1-5% shrubs 
abundant, diverse riparian (5-10% in LTA 9) 
1 -5% aspen in relatively dense stands 
5-10% old growth 



DC: 



species composition similar to RNV 

stands more dense (greater than 50% canopy) ;understory less diverse 

decline in grasslands (8-30%) 

decline in extent, function, and diversity of riparian areas 

rough fescue less abundant; decline in production of grassland biomass; greater level of bare 

soil 



emphasis on elk carving and summer habitat 
structure, composition, and function within RNV 



63 



Summary: (continued) 



MD: 


decrease canopy in forested stands 




increase extent of grasslands and component of rough fescue 




increase ground cover 




increase riparian extent, diversity, and function 




increase aspen density and vigor 




maintain old growth 



(1) Natural Range of Variation 

This ELU occurs on the north, east, and south portions of the Elkhorns (see Figure 3). This ELU represents 
the transition areas between the continous grassland/shrubland (ELU 4) and the continous interior forests 
(ELU 2). 

FOREST VEGETATION 

Habitat types in this area are indicative of the warm and dry to very dry conditions. Representative habitat 
types are the same as in ELU 1 , although the habitat types representative of warm and moist conditions 
are not as well represented. The representative habitat types are Douglas fir/Pinegrass, Douglas fir/ 
Heartleaf arnica, Douglas fir/Rough fescue and Douglas fir/Snowberry. Douglas fir is the dominant tree 
species in this area. Ponderosa pine is present only incidentally. Limber pine, lodgepole pine and Rocky 
Mountain juniper occur in many of the stands in a serai role. 

Common understory shrubs, forbs and grasses are the same as those found in ELU 1 , although their 
relative frequency is influenced by the slightly drier conditions. 

Fire and drought were the dominant processes that influenced plant composition and structure in this area 
Natural fire regimes included frequent (5 to 40 years), low intensity fire. Fire sizes usually were limited to 
a given exposure at a time and seldom burned entire drainages. 

Fires thinned Douglas fir and maintained relatively open stands. Douglas fir would have been favored over 
other conifer species because of its thicker bark that enables it to survive low intensity fire. Understory 
plants responded to fire as described for ELU 1 . 

These two-storied Douglas fir stands created favorable conditions for spruce budworm. However, the low 
stand densities would have limited stress and prevented more than intermittent feeding" damage of light 
to moderate intensity. 

Fire maintained these stands in a fairly open condition (10-50% canopy coverage) except in areas of very 
light fuels such as along rocky ridges. Some stands survived the periodic fires and developed two to three 
canopy levels. As these stands became more dense over a period of time, the fuel ladder created increased 
the probability that subsequent fires would result in a return to very open stand conditions. Snags were 
created and maintained at a relatively low levels by fires and Douglas fir beetles. The open stand condition 
created a favorable environment for understory production; however, the relatively dry soil conditions 
provided for onfy moderate expression of this potential. 

Aspen occupied between 1 and 5 percent of the landscape in this ELU. Canopy closure was greater than 
50% in stands occurring in 1 -2 acre patches. 

GRASSLAND VEGETATION 

ELU 3 encompasses large, contiguous grasslands surrounded by dry, warm Douglas fir forests. The 
dominant grass species include bluebunch wheatgrass, rough fescue, and Idaho fescue grassland. 

Grasslands occupied 20-33% of LTA's 1 and 3 and 8-10% of LTA 9. Biomass production ranged from 
600-1 1 00 pounds/acre, and less than 1 0% of the ground consisted of exposed soil or rock. Rough fescue 

64 



was the dominant grass present. Shrubs occupied 1-10% of the landscape in this ELU, consisting mainly 
of big sagebrush (but also mountain maple and snowberry) in patches of between 5 and 50 acres. 

Grasslands occupied about 32% of LTA 1 . The dominant grassland habitat types included rough fescue/ 
Idaho fescue and rough fescue/bluebunch wheatgrass. Steep slopes dominated by Idaho fescue/ 
bluebunch wheatgrass habitat types with small inclusions of the mountain big sagebrush/Idaho fescue 
type, occupied 10% of LTA 1 in the lower elevations. On gentler slopes, large grasslands comprised of the 
rough fescue/Idaho fescue habitat types were found. 

RIPARIAN CONDITIONS 

This ecological landscape unit is dominated by mid-elevation mountain slopes and rolling uplands under- 
lain by volcanic and metasedimentary parent material. Portions of sixteen first order watersheds on the 
north, eastern and southern slopes of the Elkhorns express the characteristics of ecological landscape unit 
3. This includes the segment of Crow Creek below Crow Falls to the confluence with Hall Creek and the 
downstream tributaries of Teakettle, Longfellow, Tin Cup, Dewey, Hall and Bear Creeks. The dominant 
drainage pattern for this ELU is dendritic, with deeply incised, "V-shaped" valley bottoms having formed 
where the volcanic substrate is in contact with more permeable materials such as metasedimentary shales 
and limestones. This ELU can be characterized as the transition zone between upper subalpine and lower 
mixed forest habitat types. 

Streams are within narrow valley bottoms (less than 50 ft.) but are only moderately confined due to the small 
width of the stream in relation to the floodplain. Streams also tend to have a low to moderate sinuosity and 
width/depth ratios, and commonly a riffle sequence. Woody debris affects between 1 and 30% of the bank 
channels, and primarily consists of small sized material. Substrates are ideal for spawning gravels, but 
habitat is limited. 

Plant communities are diverse in the slightly wider valley bottoms such as Hall Creek and may support 
several structural layers. Douglas fir, Engleman spruce, aspen, and cottonwood may dominate the oversto- 
ry, with dogwood, alder, chokecherry and currant occurring as common understory shrubs. Where valley 
bottom widths allow, higher streamside terraces support a component of meadow. 
Dominant riparian soils are fine textured and high in organic matter with well developed surface horizons. 
Steeper sideslopes in ELU 3 occasionally are the source of seeps. Where seeps occur, they may create 
extremely moist microsites with deep organic soils and hydrophytic vegetation. Narrower riparian vaJleys 
with steep sideslopes are dominated by alder and dogwood communities, with spruce, subalpine fir and 
Douglas fir in the overstory. Fire intervals in riparian sites may have been somewhat longer than the 
frequent fires documented for the associated uplands of this ELU. However, natural wildfires played an 
important role in consuming woody debris, cycling nutrients and building surface soil horizons. 

(2) Existing Conditions 

FOREST VEGETATION 

Vegetative composition of the area is similar to pre-settlement conditions, although the relative frequency 
and vigor of the various species have changed. 

Fire, drought, and western spruce budworm are important factors in shaping species composition and 
structure. As discussed in ELU 1 , the frequency of fires was reduced by the elimination of Native American 
ignitions, the reduction of fine fuels through grazing of domestic animals, and by fire suppression. Some 
timber harvest occurred in these areas, but not to the extent that occurred in ELU 1 . 

The less frequent, but more intense fires (the Warm Springs Fire burned the north section of this ELU) have 
reduced the overstory of the original stands and permitted young seedlings to become established, often 
in high densities. The stress in the Douglas fir trees due to competition and periodic drought has enabledd 
western spruce budworm to play a more significant role in the existing stands. As stand densities have 
increased and trees have matured, budworms have persisted and spread. 



65 



The structure of stands in ELU 3 are now even-aged (or even-aged in groups), with canopy coverage 
generally greater than 50%, except where surface soils are rocky or on harsh sites. The original overstory 
has faded in dominance and given way to a younger, denser stand. The mortality of those original overstory 
trees provides a relatively steady supply of large diameter snags over time (perhaps 2-3 per acre). 
Seedlings are established on an intermittent basis (20-30 year intervals) at high density levels (1000-2500 
trees per acre). The young stands grow rapidly, but soon decline in growth due to competive stress. Also 
due to competive stress, understory production of shrubs, herbs, forbs and grasses is now low and 
impoverished. 

GRASSLAND VEGETATION 

The patch sizes or locations of grassland communtity types within this association have not changed 
significantly since pre-settlement times. However, as a result of grazing and fire suppression, the amount 
of rough fescue has declined, and the present condition includes more Douglas fir and juniper in areas 
naturally maintained as grass/shrublands. 

Areas typically dominated by rough fescue have been replaced by Idaho fescue and timber oatgrass. While 
these latter grasses are vigorous, they produce at least 30% less biomass than rough fescue and therefore, 
less material is available for nutrient cycling and maintenance of soil productivity. In addition, there is 
currently more exposed bare ground than occurred naturally, and erosion is evident. 

RIPARIAN CONDITIONS 

The sixty eight square miles of land falling within the delineation of ELU 3 drains 30% of the mountain range 
with a total of 64 stream miles (23% of Elkhorn streams). This equates to a drainage density of slighly less 
than one stream mile per square mile of land mass. Twenty eight percent of the Crow Cr. watershed and 
32% of its streams are found in ELU 3; in turn, the Crow watershed accounts for 36% of the land area in 
ELU 3 and 52% of its streams. 

Riparian habitat accounts for less than 2% of the total acreage in ELU 3. First order watersheds dominated 
by mountain slopes and ridges underlain by volcanic parent material and draining the northeast slopes 
of the Elkhorns (i.e. Corral, Antelope, Staubach, No.Pole, So. Pole, Weasel, Kimber, Whitehorse and Indian 
Creeks) account for nearly 20% of the land mass and 31% of the stream miles in this ELU. 

Watersheds dominated by metasedimentary and limestone geology (i.e. Slim Sam, Dahlman and Johnny 
Gulch) and draining the southern and eastern slopes compose 1 4% of the land and 8% of the stream miles 
in ELU 3. The remaining acreage of ELU 3 includes an additional 8% of the total streams. These are the 
headwaters of streams which drain off forest, and for which the watershed delineations have not yet been 
extended. The following watersheds are included in ELU 3: 



WATERSHED ID/NAME 


WATERSHED ACRES/ STREAM 
MILES 


PERCENT OF WATERSHED 
IN ELU 3 


0825A Corral Creek 


470 ac./ 1.4 str.mi. 


100% 


0825B Trib. To Spokane 
Creek 


504 ac./ 1.1 str.mi. 


100% 


0904 McClellan Creek 


889 ac./ - 


7% 


1201 Antelope Creek 


600 ac./ 2.1 str.mi. 


55% 


1 202 Staubach Creek 


830 ac./ 3.1 str. 


70% 


1203A N.Pole Creek 


446 ac./ 2.0 str.mi. 


74% 



66 



WATERSHED ID/NAME 


WATERSHED ACRES/ STREAM 
MILES 


PERCENT OF WATERSHED 
IN ELU 3 


1203B S.Pole Creek 


385 ac./ - 


50% 


1203 Beaver Creek 


292 ac./ - 


3% 


1 203C Weasel Creek 


1,275 ac/2.2 mi. 


53% 


1204 Kimber Gulch 


321 ac./ .5 str.mi. 


10% 


1204B Whitehorse 


1,413 ac/3.4 str.mi. 


68% 


1204C Unnamed Trib. 


338 ac./ 1 str.mi. 


80% 


1205A Indian Creek 


1,667 ac./ 3.6 str.mi. 


52% 


1 206A Slim Sam 


395 ac./ 1 str.mi. 


8% 


1207 Dahlman Gulch 


4,148 ac./ 2.2 str.mi. 


95% 


1207A Johnny Gulch 


1,405 ac./ 1.8 str.mi. 


94% 


1206 Crow Creek 


15,837 ac/33 str.mi. 


28% 


0800 Off Forest 


9,253 ac./ 1.5 str.mi. 


? 


1200 Off Forest 


3,514 ac/4 str.mi. 


? 



Forested sites within this ecological landscape unit commonly support stands of Douglas fir and lodgepole 
pine with canopy cover greater than 30%. Stand structure of both uplands and riparian sites has been 
favorable for the establishment of spruce budworm at levels exceeding what is believed to have occurred 
under natural conditions. Additional impacts of canopy closure include increased rates of evapotranspira- 
tion, which in turn reduces the available soil moisture for understory forbs and grasses. It may also reduce 
the number of sites favorable for aspen regeneration and survival. 

The majority of riparian locations within ELU 3 have been grazed by domestic livestock for many decades. 
One impact of this long term disturbance to streams includes increased width/depth ratios as banks have 
been trampled, compacted and eroded. Both the structure and composition of riparian vegetation has 
changed. Sites formerly dominated by willow or other shrubs now support primarily introduced grasses 
due to high utilization of shrubs by domestic livestock. 

(3) Desired Condition 

This ELU has components of Management Areas E-1 , E-2, and E-3. As such, Forest Plan direction for 
vegetation is limited. For MA E-3, prescribed burning and timber management are allowable for the 
purpose of enhancing elk calving and summer range. 

The desired condition for vegetation is to maintain the structure, function, and composition of vegetative 
communities within the range of natural variation. This in turn, will insure that the habitat for the endemic 
plant and animal species (provided none have already been "lost") is sustained over time. 

(4) Management Direction 

To restore the vegetation within the range of natural variation, management direction will be to decrease 
ihe canopy in forested stands, increase the extent of grasslands (and decrease conifers colonizing iniu 



67 



grasslands) and the relative amount of rough fescue, and increase the extent and function of riparian areas, 
especially in LTA's 3 and 9. Many of these actions will include reintroduction of fire into these LTA's. 

Existing old growth should be maintained. Restoration of riparian habitats will include both livestock 
management and reintroduction of beaver wherever feasible. 



d. Ecological Landscape Unit #4 (Landtype Associations 2, 4, 11) 

Summary: 



RNV: 


predominantly grassland/shrubland; conifers in favorable microsites 

60-65% grasslands in LTA's 2,4; 85-90% in LTA 1 1 

less than 10% pure shrublands 

mosaic of diverse relatively small patches 

5-10% riparian (LTA 2,4) with aspen, cottonwood, willow 

black sage, mtn mahogany, bitterbrush in LTA 1 1 


EC: 


conifer and shrub colonization into grasslands 

decline in grasslands (45-50% LTA's 2,4; 70-75% LTA 11) 

increase in exposed soil and soil erosion 

loss of soil structure and productivity in a few areas 

loss of small patches in mosaic pattern to fewer larger patches 

decline in extent, function, and diversity of riparian areas 


DC: 


elk and mule deer winter range 

structure, composition, and function within RNV 


MD: 


increase grasslands; decrease conifers and shrubs 

restore mosaic pattern; diversity 

increase ground cover; check erosion and losses in organic content 

restore streambank plant cover 

increase riparian extent, diversity, and function 







I 
I 

p 



(1) Natural Range of Variation 

ELU #4 occurs in the southeast portion of the area and is dominated by grass-shrub complexes. This ELU 
contains a significant proportion of lands administered by BLM. 

FOREST VEGETATION 

Habitat types in this area are indicative of the warm and dry to very dry conditions. Although only 8-16% 
of this ELU is forested, representative timber habitat types include Douglas fir/Hearleaf arnica, Douglas 
fir/Rough fescue, Douglas fir/Common juniper, Douglas fir/Bluebunch wheatgrass, Douglas fir/Idaho fes- 
cue and Limber pine/Idaho fescue-Idaho fescue. Although Douglas fir is the indicated climax tree species 
on many of these forested sites, it often shares space with limber pine and Rocky Mountain juniper. 
Depending on the individual habitat type, limber pine and juniper can range from dominance to an 
occasional individual. 

Potential understory shrubs include big sagebrush, snowberry, and bitterbrush. 

Soils, fire and drought play the dominant role in shaping species composition and structure of timber 
stands in these areas. As indicated by fire scars on remnant Douglas fir trees, low intensity fires frequently 
(5 to 25 years) burned through this ELU. 



68 



The fire relationships for Douglas fir are similar to the discussion for ELU's 1 and 3. However, in this ELU, 
fires would have tended to maintain grass/shrub vegetation in what would be classified as dry forest habitat 
types. A few Douglas fir would have survived fire on rocky ridges or in moist gulleys. As they cast 
wind-dispersed seed into adjacent areas, some of these seeds were able to become established during 
years of favorable moisture. However, seedlings were generally killed by a subsequent fire. 

Limber pine did not survive fire unless an individual escaped long enough to develop thicker bark. Like 
Douglas fir, limber pine probably survived only in rocky areas or moist gulleys. Its seed is heavy and 
wingless, but dispersal by birds is very effective in spreading the seed over an extensive distance. 

Rocky Mountain juniper is also very susceptible to fire, especially when young. It can begin seed produc- 
tion by age 10 and is a prolific seed producer, particularly under stress. Dissemination of the seeds is 
primarily by birds and secondarily by gravity and water (Noble 1990). 

Most of the area is below the limits of conifer tree growth (and therefore is classified as grass/shrub habitat 
type) because of moisture limitations. In addition, the characteristic shallow, limestone soils don't retain 
the moisture levels that trees require. During wet climate cycles, trees were able to expand into adjacent 
areas, but were subsequently killed by drought or fires. 

On favorable microsites in draws or rocky outcrops within the overall matrix of grass/shrublands, stand 
structure of conifers was maintained as individual trees or 2 levels of canopy. 

Aspen was found on 3-5% of the landscape in LTA's 2 and 4 and was an insignificant component of LTA 
1 1 . Aspen stands were found as single canopied patches occupying 1 -5 acres patches. 

GRASSLAND VEGETATION 

Grassland/shrublands occupied between 82 and 94 percent of the landcape in ELU 4. Habitat types 
included bluebunch wheatgrass/blue gramma, rough fescue/bluebunch wheatgrass, rough fescue/Idaho 
fescue, Idaho fescue/western wheatgrass, Idaho fescue/bluebunch wheatgrass, mountain big sagebrush/ 
rough fescue, mountain big sagebrush/Idaho fescue, and bitterbrush/ldaho fescue. 

Grassland/shrubland site potential occurs on approximately 84% of LTA #2. Prior to settlement, about 
6-10% of that area was maintained as shrublands. Shrub habitat types were associated with deeper soils 
but with dry conditions due to landscape position. The mountain big sagebrush/rough fescue potential 
exists in long, wide draws along east facing slopes at higher elevations where the soils are well-developed 
and protected from the wind. 

As indicated by the presence of mollic soils, about 79% of LTA #4 has grassland site potential which 
include rough fescue/Idaho fescue and mountain big sagebrush/Idaho fescue habitat types. Rolling slopes 
of contiguous grassland canopy are intermingled with sagebrush inclusions that include patches of 
sagebrush along southeastern slopes that are small in size relative to the grassland patches. Sagebrush 
patches were usually found in the transition zone between Douglas fir/lodgepole pine forests and grass- 
lands. The adjacent Douglas fir habitat types had relatively closed canopies and a limited shrub and grass 
understory. 

Representative mostly of the BLM lands in the Elkhoms, LTA 1 1 had a unique mix of habitat types at its 
lower elevations. There are 5 habitat types found here that are found nowhere else in the Elkhorns. These 
include bluebunch wheatgrass/blue grama, Idaho fescue/western wheatgrass which are surrounded by 
open Douglas fir patches and do not occur in association with other grassland habitat types. Black 
sagebrush/Idaho fescue, black sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass, and curlleaf mountain mahogany/ 
bluebunch wheatgrass are the shrub habitat types found exclusively in LTA 1 1 . 

The black sage/Idaho fescue type is is the more productive of the black sage habitat types, and is found 
on more mesic north slopes. The black sage/wheatgrass type is found on low elevation, dry sites. Patch 
size is related to topography. Mountain mahogany occurs in the lower elevations within limestone sub- 
strates and outcroppings. Most areas are steep and rocky but with enough soil depth to produce healthy, 
vigorous stands of bluebunch wheatgrass between the mahogany plants. 

69 



Another unique habitat type in LTA 1 1 included bitterbrush/ldaho fescue type found at lower elevations 
as one large patch. The rest of LTA 11 consisted largely of rough fescue/Idaho fescue and Idaho 
fescue/bluebunch wheatgrass grasslands, the latter at higher elevations and the former at mid to lower 
elevations. 

RIPARIAN CONDITIONS 

This ecological landscape unit is represented by rolling uplands with broad, rounded ridgetops. It is 
underlain by volcanic and metasedirnentary parent material. The elevational and precipitation range in this 
portion of the Elkhorns landscape supports predominately grassland/shrubland vegetation, with inclusions 
of drier conifer sites. Drainages tend to be dendritic, moderately spaced and weakly incised with concave 
bottoms. Streams have low width/depth ratios and low sinuosity. Stream gradients for the smaller, first 
order streams are moderate (6-10%). The larger third and fourth order stream segments such as Slim Sam 
and Crow Creek have gradients between 4-6%. 

Larger streams also have well-developed floodplains with gravel/cobble bars comprising 1 0-30% of the 
stream banks. Alluvial deposits are often established by alder communities which deposit organic matter 
and trap sediments, building microsites for forb and grass communities to occupy. Slightly higher terraces 
and drier sites may support Cottonwood, aspen and Douglas-fir in the overstory with willow, currant, 
dogwood and snowberry as understory shrubs. Vegetative structural diversity may have included four or 
more canopy layers in the wider valley bottoms. Likewise, several component soil types may have oc- 
curred, ranging from unconsolidated alluvial deposits to well developed loams. In general, riparian soils 
reflected upland landscape features. These included medium to fine textured loams with dark surface 
horizons and depths ranging from 4-20' to bedrock. This ELL) contains the majority of perennial springs 
which are located on lower slopes and in swales. These springs are the water source for several of the first 
order streams within the Crow Creek. Though not extensive in acreage, these sites provi s unique habitat 
for a variety of plant species. They are commonly dominated by grass/sedge/Carex communities. 

(2) Existing Condition 

FOREST VEGETATION 

The composition of forested vegetation is similar to presettlement conditions; however, the overall percent- 
age of conifers has increased. 

Fire suppression in this ELU has resulted in the increased distribution and densities of conifers and shrubs 
and a subsequent reduction of area occupied by grasslands. The effects of drought are accentuated by 
the competitive interaction of the increased tree and shrub components. 

Seedlings tend to become established on an intermittent basis. Canopy coverage is greater than 50%, 
except where surface soils are rocky or on harsh sites. Douglas fir is the dominant species with significant 
amounts of limber pine. The structure tends toward a single story as the younger trees and shrubs overtake 
the older trees. Understory production of shrubs, herbs, forbs and grasses has become low to non-existant 
under a dense conifer canopy. 

Aspen stands now occur on only 1 -3% of the landscape. In addition, vigor and reproduction has been 
curtailed by the lack of fire and the effects of intensive grazing. 

GRASSLAND VEGETATION 

The two primary changes in the grassland communities of the Elkhorns, associated with the settlement of 
humans, were the introduction of domestic livestock and fire suppression. 

The community types within ELU 4 have changed more dramatically over the past 1 00 years relative to the 
communities found in other ELU's. Grasslands have been altered by the colonization of shrubs and 
coniferous vegetation, and natural shrublands have also been colonized by conifers. The natural diversity, 
represented by a mosaic of small community patches, has been replaced by fewer larger communities. 

70 



If environmental change is assumed to be discontinuous with thresholds between alternative states under 
different combinations of seasons, grazing, fire, and local variability, it can be said that some combinations 
may push the system into a state that is not readily reversed (eg. soil loss is extensive) without substantia] 
human intervention and cost (Friedel 1 991 ). Because of the effects of livestock grazing and fire suppression 
on community structure (toward deep rooted conifers and shrubs) and soils (erosion), some areas in ELU 
4 (particularly in the lower elevations) appear to have passed one and possibly two recognizable range 
thresholds. 

The change from grass to woody vegetation occurred when the grass layer was grazed beyond its capacity 
to recover quickly, and fire suppression enhanced the survival of woody plant seedlings. Grasses grazed 
heavily cannot compete against ungrazed woody seedlings for soil moisture (Friedel 1991). In some areas, 
the colonization of woody species has been so successful, there is not sufficient fuels on the site to carry 
a fire should it be reintroduced. In addition, losses of ground cover have resulted in soil erosion. A second 
threshold is reached when soil erosion outstrips soil development and the soil physical and chemical 
properties are altered irreversibly. 

Many of the grassland communities in this ELU, although they have not reached these threshold levels, 
express the effects of grazing and fire suppression through reduced herbaceous biomass (because of 
competition with invader species) and the lack of nutrient cycling that follows frequent fire events. 

Communities already stressed by the effects of heavy livestock grazing and establishment of coniferous 
plant species have lost their ability to withstand long term drought conditions and insect defoliations. 
Deeply rooted woody plants have a competitive edge over shallowly rooted grasses during periods of 
drought. The two major drought events in the past 70 years have accelerated the effects of fire exclusion 
and previous heavy grazing. Insect defoliation on grassland sites that are stressed results in a change in 
species composition due to the reduction in the amount of seed produced by the dominant grasses. 

Although the effects of insects and climate normally accelerate the effects of fire and grazing, some effects 
have resulted in more "natural* results. For example, spruce budworm infestations have killed young 
Douglas fir trees withn grassland sites. This has been especially evident in years when the trees are water 
stressed due to drought conditions. In years when the snowpack has been below normal, extreme cold 
temperatures and solar radiation have effectively killed sagebrush (eg. in 1988) thereby restoring some of 
the grassland components and the age class diversity within shrubland sites. 

RIPARIAN CONDITIONS 

ELU 4 includes the lower elevation portions of ten first order watersheds in addition to roughly 33% of the 
land mass and 21% of the stream miles of the Crow Creek watershed. The lower mountain slopes and 
rolling uplands underlain by volcanic and metasedimentary parent material that dominate ELU 4 compose 
various percentages of the following watersheds. 



WATERSHED ID/ NAME 


WATERSHED ACRES/ STREAM 
MILES 


PERCENT OF WATERSHED 
IN ELU 4 


1203B South Pole Creek 


342/. 9 


45% 


1 203C Weasel Creek 


989/1 


44% 


1204 Kimber Gulch 


1,491 /.75 


43% 


1204B Whitehorse Creek 


459/ 


22% 


1204C Unnamed Trib. 


87/. 3 


20% 


1 205A Indian Creek 


1,158/ 1.5 


36% 



71 



WATERSHED ID/ NAME 


WATERSHED ACRES/ STREAM 
MILES 


PERCENT OF WATERSHED 
IN ELU 4 


1206A Slim Sam 


4,391 / 13 


92% 


1205B West Fork Indian Creek 


1,674/3.3 


100% 


1207 Dahlman Gulch 


221 / .5 


5% 


2801 Sand Creek 


1 ,463 / 2.3 


100% 


1206 Crow Creek 


17,815/22 


32% 


1200 Drains Off Forest 


4,828 ac/4.5 str.mi. 






The fifty six square miles of ELU 4 (25% of the Elkhorns) are drained by 50 miles of stream (18% of total 
stream miles). This equates to a drainage density of about 1 mile of stream per square mile of land. Fifty 
percent of ELU 4 is within the Crow Creek Watershed. The floodplains of mainstem Crow Creek and Slim 
Sam Creek are within this ELU. However, due to the overall dry nature of this portion of the landscape, the 
expression of riparian habitat is limited, particulary in the smaller drainages to the south. Riparian habitat 
constitutes less than 2% of ELU 4. 

The riparian plant community composition and stream bank features have been significantly altered from 
natural conditions on many stream segments in this ELU. The past century of intensive livestock grazing 
has reduced the expression of riparian soils and vegetation characteristics. Regeneration of aspen, willow, 
dogwood and cottonwood are limited. A summary of disturbance information collected over the past two 
field seasons indicates forage utilization levels are generally over 40% and in some cases greater than 60%. 
This level of utilization over time has resulted in compacted soil and levels of bare soil exceeding 20% of 
the total area This in turn has decreased the soil moisture holding capacity. Since available soil moisture 
is already a limiting factor for much of the growing season in this ELU, deteriorated riparian habitat creates 
additional limitations for other plant and animal species. 

Additionally, high levels of plant utilization within riparian zones have resulted in reduced percentages of 
litter and organic matter, leading to deterioration of soil productivity. Increased potential for rill and sheet 
erosion is found on sites where surface organic matter is marginal. 

(3) Desired Condition 

Forest Plan direction that applies to this ELU includes those goals, standards and guidelines pertaining 
to Management Area E-1. Direction in the RMP applies to the many Management Units found in LTA 11. 

This area has a management emphasis on elk and mule deer winter range. Prescribed burning and 
livestock management are mentioned as tools to maintain or improve the vegetative condition and produc- 
tion. Timber harvest is allowed if used to enhance elk winter range on the Forest lands. Several BLM 
allotments in LTA 1 1 are categorized as T, and direction is to improve vegetative conditions. 

The desired condition for vegetation is to maintain the structure, function, and composition of vegetative 
communities within the range of natural variation. This in turn, will insure that the habitat for the endemic 
plant and animal species (provided none have already been 'lost') is sustained over time. 



72 



(4) Management Direction 

To move from the existing condition toward the desired condition, emphasis will be on restoring soil 
productivity, reducing bare soil and erosion, and increasing the diversity and extent of grasslands. This 
will entail reductions in conifers and shrubs through the reintroduction of fire, and changes in livestock 
management. In addition, the impacts of livestock on riparian areas requires immediate attention. Direction 
is toward restoring streambanks, increasing willow, aspen, and Cottonwood, and restoring riparian func- 
tion. More information is needed regarding the unique habitats in LTA 1 1 which include riparian, black 
sage, mountain mahogany, and bitterbrush. 



73 



E. Fisheries (from L. Walch) 



Summary: 



RNV: 


cutthroat, grayling, and mottled sculpin present 

beaver pond habitat abundant 

barriers prohibited fish in Tizer Basin and in most of the lakes 


EC: 


mostly brook trout; a few pure cutthroat trout populations 
degradation of fish habitat attributable to livestock grazing, 
loss of pool habitat and extent of fish habitat due to loss of beaver 
limited number of "habitat improvements* 


DC: 


maintain and enhance cutthroat trout habitat 
restore linkage with mainstem Missouri River 
maintain viable populations of fish species 
maintain recreational fishery in lakes 


MD: 


reintroduce cutthroat wherever feasible 

rehabilitate habitat negatively impacted by livestock/mining/roads 

control expansion of brook trout 

provide recreational fishery in lakes 

reestablish link between tributaries and Missouri River 



1. Range of Natural Variation 

a. Stream Fisheries 

Prior to European man, only native fish species were present within the Elkhorns. Of the saimonid fish 
species native to Montana, westslope/upper Missouri cutthroat dominated streams within the Elkhorns. 
Arctic grayling as well as cutthroat trout were probably abundant in the downstream reaches of some of 
the Creeks. It is likely that fluviaJ stocks of cutthroat trout from the Missouri River migrated substantia) 
distances up Prickly Pear, Beaver, and Crow Creeks to spawn. Mottled sculpins were probably the only 
nongame fish species present in the Elkhorns. 

Beaver ponds likely provided for an array of fish habitat quite different from the common steeper gradient 
stream reaches in the Elkhorns. Barriers that included gradients too steep for fish passage and/or 
waterfalls (eg. Crow Creek Falls) probably limited the distribution of fish in Tizer Basin and the associated 
lake basins. 

b. Lake Fisheries 

The lakes in the Elkhorns were most likely barren of fish with the exception of the lower South Fork Lake. 
There are no apparent barriers along the stream and therefore, it was possible that cutthroat could have 
migrated up the South Fork of Crow Creek to this lake. 

2. Existing Condition 

a. Stream Fisheries 

Fish populations, distributions, and habitats have changed drastically since European settlement primarily 
due to the influences of introduced fish species, mining, beaver trapping, and livestock grazing. A 1981 
survey which sampled 29 streams across the Helena National Forest portion of the Elkhorns, found 22 of 
those streams to support fish, including 52 occupied miles of stream (Hadley 1981). Overall, a limited 
number of pure strains of cutthroat trout were confirmed. These include Staubach Creek (1991 confirma- 
tion), Dutchman Creek (1980), and McClellan Creek (1980 and 1990). According to Hadley, several 



74 



additional streams, including Hall, Prickly Pear, Crystal, Beaver, and Warm Springs Creeks had cutthroat 
trout with minor amounts of hybridization with rainbow trout. At the conclusion of the 1981 report, Hadley 
recommended that the Elkhorns become the most 'diverse and secure upper Missouri cutthroat habitat 
known to exist'. 

The decline in cutthroat trout is mainly attributable to the introduction of brook and rainbow trout. In 
addition to direct competition for habitat and food, the rainbow trout can sucessfully hybridize with 
cutthroat and therefore dilute genetic purity. Currently, brook trout predominate throughout the range that 
was previously dominated by cutthroat trout. Rainbow and brown trout have also occupied some of the 
streams as well. 

Habitat degradation has also played a role in the decline of the native fisheries in the Elkhorns. The drastic 
reduction in beaver and the subsequent reduction in riparian habitat quantity and quality has in turn 
affected overall fish habitat diversity and quality. Additional factors include mining and grazing which have 
detrimentally affected fish habitats on selected stream reaches. For the most part, stream reaches charac- 
terized by fine textured soils that are easily trampled, have been damaged to varying degrees by livestock 
grazing. 

While many of the streams in the Elkhorns do not have high recreational value, Crow Creek is considered 
one of the most important fisheries on the Helena National Forest in terms of its values for both fish habitat 
and for providing recreational fishing. 

Fisheries monitoring and habitat improvements have occurred in some of the streams in the Elkhorns. 
Monitoring has generally related to the interaction of livestock grazing on fish habitat quality. The streams 
monitored in the Elkhorns had poor ratings and identified that shrub regeneration was also poor. Monitor- 
ing has also identified some of the limiting factors and opportunities to enhance both existing fisheries and 
potential cutthroat fisheries. These opportunities are developed for each implementation area. 

Habitat improvements have generally been the installation of log-step structures to enhance pool habitats. 
These have been placed in Crystal, Indian, and South Fork Crow Creeks. Evaluation has been accom- 
plished only in Crystal Creek, where 9 of 10 structures were functioning as planned. Two riparian exclo- 
sures have been constructed -- one on Indian Creek and another on the East Fork of Dry Creek 
(Deerlodge). Fish response to the protection provided within the exclosures has been evaluated and is 
reported to be "good*. Several beaver have been introduced within the Crow drainage; although no 
evaluation has been done, evidence of recent beaver activity has been noted in Slim Sam Creek and Crow 
Creek. 

b. Lake Fisheries 

The Lakes in the Elkhorns, including S. Fork Crow lakes, Tizer lakes, Glenwood Lake, Hidden Lake, and 
Leslie Lake have all been stocked with trout species since the first stocking occurred in the 1 920's. Local 
sportsmen stocked brook trout in all the Elkhorn lakes at that time (MDFWP files). The Tizer Lakes have 
maintained a self-sustaining population of small brook trout. Glenwood Lake is not self-sustaining (no 
suitable spawning habitat exists), and was stocked with rainbow trout in 1 946, and cutthroat trout in 1 979. 
It is scheduled for additional cutthroat fingerlings in 1 994. Leslie Lake also contains cutthroat is is periodi- 
cally stocked. Hidden Lake was stocked with brook trout in 1980, cutthroat in 1984, and at last report 
contains brook trout from 8-1 5" in length, which are apparently self-sustaining. Brook trout are apparently 
self-sustaining in the South Fork Crow Lakes; local fisherpersons report the large fish in the upper lake are 
virtually 'uncatchable'! 

None of these lake fisheries have been impacted by grazing, mining, or a reduction in beaver populations. 
No opportunities to enhance these fisheries have been identified. 

3. Desired Condition 

The Helena Forest Plan gives direction regarding the management of indicator species (cutthroat trout). 
The direction is to maintain or enhance habitat of cutthroat trout. Additionally, Forest Plan direction for other 
fish species is to maintain viable populations. 

75 



4. Management Direction 

To maintain and enhance fisheries, management direction should emphasize reducing the negative 
impacts of livestock grazing on fish habitat, rehabilitation of stream reaches affected by mining or road 
construction, reintroduce cutthroat in suitable habitat, correct sedimentation problems, increase pool 
habitat where such habitat is a limiting factor, and control the expansion of brook trout to improve 
production of cutthroat populations. The lake fisheries in the Elkhorns should be maintained through 
stocking (where necessary) to provide recreational fishing. Lastly, the opportunity to provide a linkage 
between important tributaries (eg. Crow and Beaver Creeks) and the mainstem Missouri River. 



F. Wildlife (from J. Lavell, J. Vore, T. Carisen, and J. Canfield) 

Summary: 



RNV: 


bison and prairie dogs were "keystone" grassland species 

diverse grassland wildlife guild 

presence of many large predators 

abundant riparian "niches", especially in beaver "complexes" 

abundant "savannah" old growth associates 

species associated with burned areas abundant (woodpeckers) 

Elkhorns not fragmented from adjacent mountain ranges 


EC: 


large portion of grassland prairie permanently "gone* 

reduction in diversity of habitats and hence wildlife guilds in grasslands and riparian areas 

loss of forage productivity in old growth habitats 

elimination of bison, prairie dogs, grizzly, bighorn, wolf 

young age structure in mule deer bucks 

30% of elk winter on private land; some displacment during hunting season 

potential to loose large blocks of interior forest and "security" 

introduction of non-native species; mountain goats 


DC: 


sustain biodiversity; restore "lost" habitats and attributes 

high quality winter range 

restore native species where feasible 

restore "natural" sex and age structures in hunted species 

adequate security during hunting season 


MD: 


gather baseline survey information on sensitive species 
restore soil, water, and vegetation to within natural ranges 

restore vegetation diversity relative to patch sizes, mosaics, vertical structure, and composi- 
tion. 

improve quality of big game winter ranges and key moose habitats 
evaluate ^introduction of bighorn sheep 
gather baseline information on black bears 
evaluate augmentation of prairie dogs and beaver 
increase diversity of mule deer buck age structure 
evaluate security in remaining 4 elk herds; test assumptions 







This section on wildlife follows a sequence from "coarse fitter* where broad habitats and habitat relation- 
ships are discussed, to a finer filter* presentation by individual species. The species specific information 
reflects a level of human value due to both recreational pursuit (game species) or rareness (sensitive 
species). These species, because of human utilization and/or their relatively restrictive habitat associa- 
tions, may require a finer level of resolution to sustain them over time in the Elkhorn Mountains. 



76 



1. Range of Natural Variation 

Because wildlife species are a product of the available habitats, they are discussed by broad habitat 
groups of similar vegetation and structure; grasslands and shrublands, forest, riparian, scree, and alpine. 
The general location of each habitat is described relative to the ELU's. The unique attributes of the habitat 
group relative to wildlife, the role of individual wildlife species within the habitat, and the variety of wildlife 
that occupy the habitat and their life history adaptations are also presented. 

Many wildlife species are adapted to a specific successional stage within a habitat group. Successional 
differences may reflect differences in structural diversity and in plant composition and distribution patterns. 
Many wildlife species adapted to early successional plant communities and ecotones between habitat 
groups are 'generalists', meaning they often have relatively great dispersal potential, wide ranges of 
tolerances, and high reproductive rates. Species restricted to later successional or climax plant communi- 
ties may have relatively low dispersal powers, narrow ranges of tolerance, and low reproductive rates 
(Balda 1975). 

a. Grassland/Shrublands 

Prior to European settlement, grassland and shrubland habitats in the Elkhorns occurred from the banks 
of the Missouri to the elevation commensurate with precipitation levels necessary to support forest 
vegetation. Much of this habitat occurred outside of the present National Forest Boundary; however, the 
majority of ELU #4 on National Forest lands supported grassland/shrublands and their associated wildlife 
species. 

Drought, fire, and ungulate grazing were the primary ecological and evolutionary forces which influenced 
the dynamics of prairie grasslands (Anderson 1982). These forces combined in the past to create a 
large-scale mosaic of habitats. As a result, the evolving wildlife community adapted to a variety of grassland 
situations ranging from heavily grazed open areas (eg. horned larks) to dense ungrazed patches (eg. 
short -eared owl) (Dobkin 1992). 

Within the broad category of grassland/shrublands, a continuum of vegetation existed, ranging from solid 
stands of grasses, to a mixture of sagebrush and grasses, to almost a solid canopy of shrubs that included 
sagebrush. The lower elevation grasslands were relatively large and continuous, whereas the upper 
elevation habitats (receiving more precipitation) were interspersed with conifers and shrubs. Because of 
the relatively low precipitation levels and homogeneous structure, the diversity of wildlife species was 
highest on the edges or ecotones of this habitat. 

A unique characteristic of this habitat was the fairly rapid decomposition and nutrient recycling processes 
compared to other habitats. This resulted in the maintenance of a productive producer (photosynthetic 
organisms) trophic level irrespective of the low precipitation levels. The major processes that influenced 
vegetation distribution in the grassland/shrubland habitats were fire and herbivory. 

The keystone or 'pivotal' species upon which a large part of the community depended (Noss 1 990) in the 
grassland/shrubland habitat group included Bison and prairie dogs. Many other wildlife species were 
associated with the successional plant communities created by the actions of these two herbivores. 

Plains Bison inhabited the Elkhorn mountains in pre-settlement times. Bison contributed to four kinds of 
impact on their habitat; debarking of trees, formation and maintenance of trails and wallows, and alteration 
of plant cover (Meagher 1973). The alteration of plant cover was the most influential of these 'impacts' 
relative to the effect it had on other wildlife species adapted to and inhabiting grassland/shrubland habitats. 

Because of the size and weight of individual bison, and their tendency to move as large herds (Plains 
Bison), they were capable of trampling and intensively grazing large patches of ground. However, because 
of their migratory patterns (see 'herbivory* in Part 2), this effect was short-term and allowed for a mosaic 
of successional stages over the landscape. Following behind the bison, black-tailed prairied dogs adapted 
to, and helped perpetuate, the early successional vegetation patches that resulted from recent bison 
grazing. 



77 



The black-tailed prairie dog was originally a widespread and dominant life-form on the short grass and 
mixed grass prairies (Knowles 1992). Prairie dogs were adapted to disturbed areas in relation to their 
method of predator avoidance. Prairie dogs, which are colonial/social animals, depend on visual cues for 
avoiding predation. Although they are herbivorous, the colony alone could not maintain the necessary 
amount of open ground that enabled them to see and communicate information about predators. There- 
fore, the ground disturbance created by a herd of grazing bison provided a well-suited habitat niche for 
prairie dog colonies. 

Colonies varied in size, with larger colonies (up to 5 miles in length) present in the valley bottom of the 
Missouri River, and smaller colonies (5-60 acres) occurring in the foothills of the Elkhorns (Knowles 1992). 
In areas covered by a complex of colonies, the vegetation was distinctly different from adjacent, non- 
colonized areas in terms of plant species composition, plant nutritive values, and overall production 
(Knowles 1992). The continued disturbance from clipping and burrowing (following defoliation and tram- 
pling by bison) produced a plant community composed primarily of annual forbs. In addition, the soil mixing 
from burrowing activities resulted in increased soil nutrients (Hassien 1976), and greater nitrogen concen- 
tration in plants (Coppock 1981). Within colonies, soil development was accelerated at least 1 0-fold. These 
effects, which were dynamic in space and time (colonies moved once the grass grew too tall), in turn 
attracted ungulates, specifically bison and antelope. 

A variety of other wildlife species adapted to the early successional community within the prairie dog 
colony. These species were associated with the food sources provided by forbs and the prairie dogs 
themselves, and with the burrows which provided shelter. Over 1 00 vertebrate species have been reported 
in association with prairie dog towns, representing 40% of the terrestrial fauna found west of the Missouri 
river in Montana (Knowles 1992). Many of these species, including black-footed ferrets, ferruginuous 
hawks, swift fox, burrowing owls, and mountain plovers, are now considered threatened, endangered, or 
sensitive (in Region I of the Forest Service). Mountain plovers, which only are rarely seen in this area now, 
were once common and wide ranging with numbers probably in the millions. 

Other ungulates associated with the grasslands included bighorn sheep, elk, deer, moose (to a lesser 
degree), and antelope. Some inhabited the grassland/shrublands year-round (antelope, deer), while 
others depended on these lower elevation/low precipitation areas primarily as winter range. 

A variety of small mammals, invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, and birds were also found in the 
grassland/shrublands. There is some indication that small mammal populations were most abundant in 
ungrazed or lightly grazed areas (Olendorff and Stoddart 1973). 

Within the Elkhorn mountains, the pure stands of grasses found at the lowest elevations graded into 
shrub-grassland mixes. Due to the influence of fire, shrubs generally occurred in smaJI fragmented 
patches. In contrast to the relatively homogenous structure of the pure grasslands, the shrublands offered 
an additional vertical layer for nesting, perching, and foraging; and in turn additional niches for wildlife 
species. 

Within the shrubland habitat, sagebrush was the dominant shrub, occurring in mostly small patches from 
1 -50 acres at higher elevations and in larger patches at lower elevations. Species associated with sage- 
brush have adapted to utilize sage leaves as forage, and the brushy life-form as thermal cover, nesting sites 
and perches. These species may have included vespers sparrow, Brewers sparrow, sage thrashers, sage 
sparrows, sage grouse, antelope, and mule deer. 

On the upper edges of the grassland/shrublands, and in isolated draws and gullies, juniper stands offered 
structural components for wildlife not found in the adjacent grassland/shrublands. Because of their 
susceptiblity to fire, junipers occurred in small fragmented areas often with sparse vegetation. Juniper 
stands provided migratory corridors, thermal cover, and a winter food source which was not provided by 
other habitats; hence they attracted a large number of birds in the fall, winter, and spring months (Seig 
1991). During the summer months, juniper woodlands provided nest sites, feeding niches and perches for 
birds that could be categorized as woodland specialists, habitat generalists, and edge species. These 
included the Townsend's solitare, American Robin, and red-tail hawk. 



78 



Because of the extensive and varied prey base found in the grassland/shrubland habitat, predators 
including bears, mountain lions, bobcats, wolves, and coyotes were associated at least seasonally with 
these areas. 

b. Riparian 

Riparian areas were found throughout the Elkhorn Mountain Range in association with perennial and 
intermittant streams, springs and seeps, and perched water tables. Relative to wildlife, riparian areas were 
unique in that they were often found in conjunction with water which provided relief from heat as well as 
drinking water; they were highly productive and structurally aiverse; and they often existed in a linear or 
corridor pattern on the landscape. Because of the relatively overall dry nature of the upland landscape in 
the Elkhorns, riparian areas provided succulent vegetation almost year-round, and were often the focal 
point of productivity of both vegetation and wildlife. 

Riparian areas were naturally characterized by frequent disturbances (Hansen et al. 1 989), which included 
seasonally fluctuating water levels, beaver activity, grazing activity, and periodic fire. The result of these 
disturbances along the length of a given stream was to create a dynamic linear mosaic of successional 
communities in close proximity to water and generally associated with well-developed organic soils. In turn, 
this provided diverse vegetative structure (including layers of grass/forb, shrubs, and one or more tree 
canopies) and resulted in an abundance of wildlife niches for feeding, nesting, perching, and cover. In 
addition, these areas were used as migration corridors by a variety of wildlife species. Because of the 
diverse characteristics, riparian habitats supported a diverse and complex food chain of wildlife species 
and also supported higher numbers of individual species when compared to other habitats. The presence 
of many species, such as neotropical migrant landbirds, was directly tied to the complexity and density 
of vegetation structure in riparian areas (Dobkin 1992). 

The dynamic and diverse vegetation communities found within riparian areas in the Elkhorns supported 
both "generalist" and "specialist" wildlife species. Generalists were often associated with "early succession- 
al" or grass/forb/shrub riparian communities. These species included ungulates (moose, elk, deer, bison), 
a variety of predators, songbirds, and small mammals. 

Predators, including grizzly and black bears ranged through a variety of habitats. However, because of the 
high energy requirements of bears and other large predators, riparian areas provided optimal foraging 
conditions. Bears and other predators would frequent riparian areas for food, cover, and during travel or 
migration. 

More specialized species were associated with later successional stages in which several shrub and tree 
layers were present. These additional layers resulted in the presence of above-ground nesting and 
foraging areas and in addition, dead deciduous and coniferous trees created snags in which cavity nesters 
drilled the holes used by a variety of bird life for nesting. Aspen and cottonwood were the primary 
deciduous species found in the Elkhorns, and were preferred by primary cavity nesters due to the ease 
in which holes could be excavated. In addition, mature aspen and cottonwood hosted fungal infections 
and insects, which provided food for a variety of small mammals and birds. 

Within the Elkhorns, the shape and size of stream valleys influenced the development of riparian vegeta- 
tion. In the lower elevation, lower gradient foothills, beaver activity functioned to trap additional sediment 
and raise water tables, which in turn effectively increased the width of the riparian community (Naiman et 
al. 1988). In addition, many shade intolerant plant species such as willow, aspen, and cottonwood added 
structural diversity to these broader valleys. At higher elevations where stream gradients increased and 
canyons narrowed, more shade tolerent plant species (like dogwood, spruce, and subalpine fir) formed 
narrow riparian zones. As a result of the greater development of the aquatic ecosystem, greater structural 
complexity and greater width of riparian vegetation in the lower elevations, it was likely that species 
richness and abundance was greatest there relative to the higher elevation riparian areas found in the 
Elkhorns (Finch 1989). Species found uniquely in riparian areas at the lower elevations (along the bigger 
creeks and the Missouri River) included waterfowl and a variety of fish eaters like bald eagles, osprey, 
herons, and pelicans. 



79 



In the arid low elevation breaklands of the Elkhorns, it is possible that frequent fire aided in the maintenance 
of subsurface/surface water flows and hence served to enhance the extent of riparian vegetation. These 
moist stringers of vegetation or woody draws harbored disproportionately rich birdlife and other wildlife 
species in an otherwise dry, relatively homogeneous habitat (Dobkin 1992). 

Wildlife species found in association with late successional riparian communties (those dominanted by 
shade tolerant tree species), tended to be specialists, or species tied to a particular component (often the 
presence of snags or a particular prey species) found in these habitats. 

Because of its association with water, many riparian spruce/fir communities survived the fires that affected 
conifer stands in the uplands. As a result, some of these stands developed "old growth" conditions 
represented by large diameter trees, abundant downfall, and snags. These old patches were relatively rare, 
and dynamic in time and space due to the periodic occurrance of insect and disease outbreaks, wind- 
driven stand replacement fire conditions, or other weather events. 

In general, the spruce fir forest was complex and diverse, hosting a variety of wildlife foraging guilds, 
including bark gleaners, foliage gleaners, grainivores, and timber search and drillers. Species associated 
with the spruce/fir riparian communities required its moist stand conditions along with the complex 
multistoried stand structure. 

Forested Vegetation 

Forested habitats occurred in the Elkhorns at all elevations. However, at lower elevations, due to the 
influence of low precipitation and frequent fire, forests existed as open grown "savannahs' of ponderosa 
pine and Douglas fir with grasses in the understory. In contrast, the higher elevation stands offered 
continous dense forest canopy in a mosaic of size and age classes over the landscape. Small aspen stands 
were often scattered throughout the savannah habitat and increased the diversity of wildlife associated 
with the savannah by adding additional foraging and cover niches. 

Pine or fir savannahs were found primarily in ELU's 1 and 3, but also in ELU 4. Relative to wildlife, these 
communities offered a high degree of "edge", readily available forage in the understory of grasses and 
shrubs, and tree canopy which created an ameliorated climate as well as provided for nesting and perching 
cover. Species that used this type of habitat included goshawks, flammulated owls, a variety of woodpeck- 
ers and flickers, pygmy nuthatches, and blue grouse. 

Fire played an important role in these stands, thinning the young regeneration, recycling nutrients, and 
creating snags. Snags created within this system tended to be long lived and maintained at fairly constant 
levels. Within this community, primary excavators included northern flickers and hairy woodpeckers and 
secondary cavity dwellers included flammulated owls, mountain bluebirds, and kestrels. 

Because winter snows tended not to crust or pile as deeply under the tree canopy of these savannahs 
relative to the open grasslands, they provided important foraging areas for wintering ungulates. Birds and 
small mammals also relied on the food sources that remained above the snow (mainly insects and seeds) 
(Benyus 1989). In addition, the tree canopies offered shelter from the cold and heat. 

The open savannah forest graded into the cold moist coniferous forest which occurred in V-shaped draws 
at lower elevations as well as in the upper elevation "core" of the Elkhorns. Tree species found here included 
mostly lodgepole, with mixed Douglas fir-lodgepole stands, subalpine fir, and spruce-subalpine fir stands 
found as minor components. These forested stands tended to occur in large, continuous blocks of varying 
size and age classes, a reflection of fire patterns. Relative to wildlife, this interior forest buffered climate, 
maintained a constant source of snags (which provided nest cavities and insects) and downed woody 
material, and offered escape from predators. Large ungulates used these areas during the summer months 
to relieve heat stress. Black-backed woodpeckers and three-toed woodpeckers, which were locally abun- 
dant in recently burned interior forest, relied on the insects and availability of post-fire snags. The dead 
and downed materials were used as cover for small mammals, amphibians, and ground-dwelling birds. 
These species were in turn prey for larger predators like goshawks, fishers, and pine martens. The most 
abundant guild of birds in the lodgepole forest were species that gleaned insects from the tree foliage and 

80 



bark (Whitaker 1979). Birds commonly found in interior forest included juncos, Cassin finches, ruby- 
crowned kinglets, pine siskins, nuthatches, and brown creepers. 

The interior forest in the Elkhorns was broken by small wet meadows and grassy parks. These meadows 
offered a highly productive forage source in conjunction with the security of the adjacent forest. Therefore, 
they served to increase the species richness and density within the interior forest habitat. 

d. Rock 

Rock outcrops, scree, talus, and caves composed a portion of the natural Elkhorn landscape. Relative to 
wildlife, these areas were unique in that they were stable over time and space. By themselves, rocky areas 
were used as nest/den sites and as places that both afforded security from predators as well as provided 
some predators ambush cover. Species associated with this habitat depended on adjacent habitats for 
other life cycle requirements. Some of these species included pika, hoary marmots, bighorn sheep, bats, 
mountain lions, and rock wrens. 

e. Alpine 

True alpine habitat, or the vegetation occurring above timberline, fluctuated with climate conditions in the 
Elkhorns. During the most recent climate periods, alpine habitats occupied very little area within the 
Elkhorns, centered mainly in the vicinity of the higher peaks such as Crow, Elkhorn, Crazy, Casey, and 
High. 

Alpine habitats featured harsh conditions characterized by high winds, low temperatures, low effective 
moisture, short growing seasons, and intense ultraviolet radiation. Moisture was provided by snow and 
often succulent plant communities were maintained by the occurrance of longterm snow drifts and banks. 
Relative to wildlife, the constant strong winds provided relief during the hot summer months from both heat 
and insects. The plant communities, composed mainly of alpine-adapted grasses and forbs, provided 
summer forage for bighorn sheep, elk, marmots, pika, and bears. Bird species associated with the alpine 
habitats included black-rosy finches, water pipits, and mountain bluebirds. 

f. Habitat corridors and linkages 

The Elkhorns were an island ecosystem to a variety of wildlife species that had relatively low dispersal 
distances. However, for large predators and ungulates, the Elkhorns played an important but not an 
exclusive role in the year-round habitat needs of these species. In addition, the dispersing segment of 
these species may have left the Elkhorns entirely. 

Within the mountain range, the important landscape level linkages included large habitat patches that were 
unfragmented, and riparian corridors. The largest unfragmented habitats in the Elkhorns were the interior 
lodgepole conifer zone and the lower elevational grassland belt. 

The important linkages between the Elkhorns and other mountain ranges and seasonal habitats (like the 
broad river valleys) included the area near Boulder Hill (to link the Elkhorns with the Continental Divide), 
the Townsend Basin (link with the Big Belts), and the Boulder River and Missouri River Corridors(link with 
Tobacco Roots and Bridger foothills). 

g. History of Individual Species 

BIGHORN SHEEP 

Bighorn sheep were once much more widely distributed and abundant than at present. Buechner (1960) 
documented the decline of bighorn sheep in the United States. He concurred with Seton's (1 929) estimate 
that bighorns perhaps numbered from 1 .5 to 2 million at the beginning to the nineteenth century. By 1 960, 
Buechner estimated no more than 18,200 bighorns (all subspecies) in the country. Of these, he thought 
that at most 9,700 were Rocky Mountain bighorns, the subspecies native to Montana By 1975, due to 
bighorn reintroduction and interest in sheep management, 23,000 Rocky Mountain bighorns were estimat- 



81 



ed (Wisart 1975). Since then, continued bighorn conservation efforts have resulted in stable or slight 
increases in Rocky Mountain bighorn numbers (Lawson and Johnson 1982). 

Initial declines of bighorns in the 1800*s were caused by a variety of factors, including diseases borne by 
domestic livestock, human encroachment, overhunting, and competition with domestic livestock for forage 
(Buechner 1960, Graham 1980). 

MOOSE 

The Shiras moose, a northern Rocky Mountain subspecies, was native to Montana and the Elkhorn 
Mountains. The Elkhorns are typical moose habitat for ranges east of the Continental Divide in southwest 
Montana. Although moose use a variety of habitats and vegetation communities, they prefer early succe- 
sional and/or riparian areas (Franzmann 1978). Because there were more extensive riparian areas and 
beaver-influenced habitats prior to European settlement, it is estimated that moose were more numerous 
then. 

BLACK BEAR 

Very little is known about black bear ecology in the Elkhorn Mountains. Black bear range widely and the 
entire mountain range was probably occupied prior to human settlement. For reasons listed above for 
moose, black bear may have been more numerous pre-settlement. 

MOUNTAIN LION 

The largest cat in the United States, mountain lions were native to the Elkhorn Mountains. Because of 
competition with other large predators like grizzly bears and wolves, mountain lions are estimated to have 
been less numerous pre-settlement relative to current numbers. 

ELK 

Previous to the influences of European man, elk ranged over much of North America and were found 
across the state of Montana (Bryant and Maser 1 982). Although elk populations occupied the open plains, 
they were more common along wooded stream bottoms and river breaks. Highest densities likely occurred 
in central Montana and in the mountains east of the Continental Divide, with fewer occurring in the densely 
forested western portion of Montana (Bryant and Maser 1982). 

By the late 1 800's, elk were greatly reduced over much of their former range in the United States and by 
more than 99% in numbers (Bryant and Maser 1 982, Picton 1 991 ). By the turn of the century elk were found 
only in isolated areas; the Yellowstone and Jackson Hole herds made up perhaps half of all the elk on the 
continent (Houston 1982). 

Although little historical data specific to the Elkhorn Mountains is available, it has been estimated that elk 
in the Elkhorns followed similar trends as elk in other areas of the Western U.S. Few elk existed in the 
Elkhorns between about 1880 and 1930 (R. DeSimone, pers. commun.). Thirty-four elk from Yellowstone 
National Park were released into the mountain range near the town of Elkhorn in 1939 (USDA--FS 1939). 
The status and ecology of elk in the Elkhorn Mountains have been monitored by the Montana Department 
of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MDFWP) since 1981. 

It is not likely that elk numbers today exceed those of pre-settlement. In support of the hypothesis that fewer 
elk reside in the Elkhorns today is the fact that prior to European Man the entire Missouri River Valley bottom 
and foothills in the Elkhorns were available "elk habitats'. Elk now are confined to the mountains themselves 
by urbanization and agriculture at the lower elevations. However, it could also be argued that prior to 
settlement, elk numbers were limited by competition with bison, bighorn sheep, and predation by wolves 
and grizzly bears - all species extinct from the Elkhorns today. Currently, elk populations are likely held 
below their potential by consideration for private landowner tolerances' (Murie 1951, Caughley 1979). In 
the Elkhorn Mountains during 1981-91, population parameters among those used by Caughley (1970, 
1979), Houston (1982), and Pianka (1983), that include body weights and condition, indicate the popula- 
tion is below "ecologic carrying capacity' (DeSimone and Vore 1992). 

82 



MULE DEER and ANTELOPE 

Although severely reduced by the early part of this century, mule deer were not totally extirpated as were 
bighorn sheep and elk. 

Antelope occurred in the vicinity of the Elkhorn mountains prior to settlement. One of the earliest documen- 
tations of antelope in this vicinity was made by Lewis and Clark as they navigated up the Missouri River 
through the Townsend area on July 21, 22 and 23, 1805 (Coues 1965). While no estimate as to the 
pre-historic abundance in the Elkhorn Mountain area is available, antelope were probably quite numerous 
based on the amount of suitable habitats which occurred in the foothills and flats surrounding the Elkhorns. 
With the advent of European man into this area, most big game species of wildlife, including antelope, 
severely declined due to subsistence hunting, conversion of native range into agricultural monocultures, 
and the introduction of domestic livestock. Antelope, whose pre-historic populations are thought to have 
outnumbered bison, declined throughout the west. It is estimated that in Montana in 1924 there were only 
3,000 antelope present (Yoakum 1978). Hunting restrictions implemented around the turn of the century 
slowly eliminated unrestricted harvest of big game animals. Antelope in the Townsend area evidently had 
survived the early settlement period because 247 animals were trapped during the period 1 946 to 1 952 
and transplanted to other areas of the state (Rognrud 1983). 

2. Existing Condition 

Wildlife are currently the management emphasis in a large portion of the Elkhorn Mountains. Until the 
designation of a portion of the area as a Wildlife Management Unit in 1982, wildlife and their habitats were 
subject to a variety of forces that served to reduce both populations and habitats. Leopold (1966) 
introduced the "Sand County Almanac" by saying 

'Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away 
with them. Now we face the question whether a still higher 'standard of living' is worth its costs 
in things natural, wild, and free.. ..these wild things had little human value until mechanization 
assured us of a good breakfast, and until science disclosed the drama of where they come 
from and how they live...' 

Human activities in the Elkhorns that affected wildlife include hunting, trapping, introductions of exotics, 
and elimination and degradation of habitat. These impacts have resulted in the extirpation of native species 
that include bighorn sheep, bison, grizzly bears, wolves, and probably additional vertebrate and inverte- 
brate species both above and below the soil surface. In addition, habitat modifications have resulted in 
changes in the relative abundance and diversity of wildlife species across the landscape. Finally, wildlife 
management programs, which favor hunted wildlife species, have resulted in abundant populations of wild 
ungulates, perhaps at the expense of other lesser known and studied wildlife guilds and species. 

a. Grassland/Shrublands 

Most of the native prairie in the Elkhorn ecosystem has been severely altered and/or fragmented by 
irrigation, cultivation, and livestock grazing. Especially at the lowest elevations within the grasslands, much 
of the occupied range of bison and prairie dogs has been permanently 'lost'. In addition, market hunting 
and trapping programs severely reduced and eliminated many of the species associated with low elevation 
prairie. Livestock introduction created competition for forage as well as the indirect effects on soils, water, 
and vegetation, which in turn reduced the structural complexity and productivity of the grassland habitats. 

Fire suppression has resulted in different patterns of vegetation, which has tended to favor some wildlife 
species at the expense of others. Large-scale grassland mosaics which once offered edge and diversity 
now occur in large homogenous patches (public lands), or extremely small fragmented patches (cultivated 
lands). In general, the grassland wildlife community in the Elkhorns is less diverse today relative to 
pre-settlement conditions. In addition, it is estimated that shifts from habitat specialists, or those species 
associated with a specific habitat or set of habitat components, to more generalist species, adapted to a 
variety of successional stages and habitats, has occurred. 



83 



b. Riparian 

Riparian habitats in the Elkhorns were the focal point among competing users. The extensiveness, 
structure, and function of these critical wildlife habitats have been altered as a result of mining, livestock 
grazing, recreation developments (eg. roads and trails), channelization for flood control, water diversion 
for agricultural use, the removal of beaver and/or the degradation of habitats necessary to support beaver. 

The existing wildlife diversity and abundance associated with riparian habitats is estimated to be substan- 
tially less than that described for the pre-settlement condition. Although there is no data to show reductions 
in any particular species, it is estimated that the impact has been greatest on song bird populations 
including neotropical migrants (Dobkin 1992). This estimation is based on the reduction in the complexity 
and density of vegetation structure brought about by the elimination of beaver complexes and other 
impacts (eg. livestock grazing) on riparian vegetation. Species most reduced include those associated with 
deciduous snags and live trees such as many cavity nesting birds, and those that nest or forage in dense 
shrub or herbaceous ground layers. This latter category includes many neotropical migrants (Dobkin 
1992). In addition to the direct effects of riparian alteration, an indirect impact is associated with the 
increased incidence of parasitic cowbirds in riparian areas where cattle concentrate. 

c. Forested Vegetation 

Although the percentage of forest old growth habitat is currently at the upper range of its natural occur- 
rence (except in LTA 5; ponderosa pine), the structure and habitat values of old growth habitats have been 
altered. Fire suppression (as it relates to other variables like livestock grazing) has resulted in the conver- 
sion of old growth "savannah" stands at lower elevations to denser, multi-aged forests which have less 
forage available in the understory, and a decline in overall understory diversity and the availability of snags. 
As a result of these changes, it is estimated that species adapted to an open forest structure, such as 
flammulated owls and goshawks, have declined. In addition, the abundance of prey species and the use 
of these communities by foraging ungulates has declined. 

Ecologies' 'andscape units 1, 3 and 4 contain fire dependant (frequent, low intensity fire) old growth 
(habitat ups 1-5 and 6). Douglas fir is the dominant tree species in these areas; however, ponderosa 
and limber pine may also be present. 

Homogenous lodgepole stands are the main forest component of ELU 2. Mature lodgepole pine stands 
are transitory in time and space; therefore, wildlife species have evolved specializations for association 
within this community. The wildlife species often associated with forest interior stands, including wood- 
peckers, goshawks, pine marten, and a variety of song birds, are probably found in similar numbers and 
are similarly distributed presently in the Elkhorns relative to their pre-settlement conditions. In addition, the 
large wildfire in 1988 created a mosaic of unburned to severely burned conditions which in turn have 
provided niches for a variety of species including those associated with an increased supply of wood- 
boring insects (eg. woodpeckers). 

Within the lodgepole forest, small patches of spruce/fir old growth are associated with seasonally high 
water tables. Even though small, when surrounded by lodgepole, these spruce stands offer some diversity 
within the interior forest habitat. More of this habitat is estimated to exist currently then did under natural 
fire regimes. However, the conversion from a variety of age classes to stands of similar age and structure 
creates a high risk of losing these stands due to stand replacing fire. 

The interior forest now lacks age class and fire-related diversity (such as snags). Because of the dense 
stand structure and trend toward one continuous age class, there is an increased probability that future 
fires would affect both larger areas of interior forest, as well as previously buffered areas, like riparian zones. 
This would resuit in changes in species composition and a reduction in overall habitat diversity in the 
mountain range. 

d. Alpine 

Alpine habitats and small interspersed wet meadows were modified by intensive domestic sheep grazing. 
Although this intense grazing occurred in a relatively compressed time period, it resulted in the permanent 

84 



introduction of non-native plant species and a trend toward lower successional plant communities, which 
in some places has been perpetuated by concentrated big-game foraging activity. It is not known what 
impact the introduction of 'exotic' mountain goats has had on the overall alpine wildlife community. 

e. Wildlife Habitat Corridors and Linkages 

Although roading, grazing, and timber harvest have undoubtably impacted habitats in the Elkhorns, the 
most significant alteration of habitat linkages has not occurred within the mountain range. Fragmentation 
effects are most notably those that segregate the Elkhorn Mountains from adjacent ranges. Construction 
of the interstate highway and state highways that surround the Elkhorns have had the greatest impact on 
inter-mountain linkages. In addition, the damming of the Missouri to create Canyon Ferry Resevoir has 
essentially eliminated an important habitat component as well as severed connection of the Elkhorns to 
the Big Belt Mountains. Cultivation and irrigation of the foothills in the Elkhorns has "permanently" (within 
the 50 year period of analysis) eliminated additional grassland and riparian habitats that may preclude 
dispersal by some species unable to cross such extensive areas of cultivation. 

f. Individual Species 

The following documentation provides the existing condition for a variety of fine filter* wildlife species or 
categories of species whose status is partially or wholly known. No threatened or endangered wildlife 
species are known to inhabit the Elkhorns. However, one bald eagle nest is currently active on the 
periphery of the range along the Missouri River near "Deepdale" fishing access. Regional sensitive species 
which may occur in the Elkorns are discussed. 

MOUNTAIN GOAT 

Mountain goats were native to major mountain ranges of western Montana, but were absent from isolated 
ranges east of the Continental Divide. Sixteen mountain goats were introduced into the Elkhorns between 
1956-1958, and since that time have established themselves in "suitable" habitat across the range. About 
60 goats are estimated to occupy the Elkhorns presently, based on a flight census flown in 1 990. 

Mountain goats may be using some habitats traditionally used by bighorn sheep. However, evidence 
indicates that mountain goats are concentrated in relatively few areas in the Elkhorns where small patches 
of forage are found in juxtaposition with rugged cliffs. These "core" areas include Elkhorn Peak, Crow Peak, 
the ridge southeast of Leslie Lake, and the Clear Creek area west of Tizer Basin. Near the Tizer Ranger 
Station, an old livestock salting area receives goat use from late May thru late October. 

Kidding season begins in late May and during this period, goats occur in small groups. Females, kids and 
yearlings band together in late June and July and form larger "nursery" groups. These groups generally 
occupy the optimal alpine and other productive habitats. The intolerance of the female groups to subadult 
males may result in the dispersal of younger males into lower quality habitats. Known kidding/nursery areas 
include Crow, Elkhorn and Casey Peaks, Radersburg Pass and the Tizer Basin/Falls Creek/Crow Creek 
area. 

Later in the summer, nursery groups disband to take advantage of small areas of succulent vegetation. 
As breeding season approaches, group size increases again, and males join the female/kid groups. Goats 
have been observed during this November/December period in the "core" areas as well as in the South 
Fork Crow Creek, Crazy Creek and near Radersburg Pass. 

After the breeding season large groups disband to form smaller groups with group numbers reflecting 
snow conditions. During the winter, goats rely on forage available on windswept ridges. Documented 
winter range areas include Casey Peak, Beaver Creek/Badger Creek, Tizer Basin, Clear Creek, Longfellow/ 
Eureka Creeks, Elkhorn Peak, and the ridge southeast of Leslie Lake. 

Hunting of mountain goats by permit began in 1974. Since that time, hunter success has been very high 
(average of 92% from 1 974-90). Of 30 recorded kills, 20 occurred in the Crow Peak, Elkhorn Peak and Leslie 
Lake areas which are relatively accessible. Productivity has ranged from 19-47 kids per 100 adults; 



85 



however, this variation may reflect differences in flight conditions (season, weather, etc.), rather than actual 
changes in kid survival or production. 

MOOSE 

Moose may be found throughout the mountain range, however, incidental sitings are concentrated in the 
drainages and forests found in the western portion of the mountain range and in Tizer Basin. No estimates 
of numbers or more specific distribution and habitat use data are available. 

Because of their solitary nature coupled with a paucity of moist early successional or riparian habitats 
(Franzmann 1978), moose densities in the Elkhorns are not high. A limited number of moose have been 
harvested each year since 1 965 by hunters. Seasons from 1 965 to 1 977 included 3-5 either sex permits. 
From 1 977 to the present, 3 permits for antlered bulls have been issued. The success rate is generally 
100%. Ages of moose harvested since 1984 have ranged from 2-12 years. 

BLACK BEAR 

Harvest records of black bears (Appendix F) show a wide distribution within the Elkhorn Mountains. 
However, the current status of black bears in the Elkhorn Mountains is unknown. This is largely because 
black bears are a low management priority relative to deer and elk and because they are difficult to monitor 
(Swenson 1985). Black bears do not congregate on winter ranges as do most ungulate game animals so 
they cannot be counted easily. Also, harvests are small so an evaluation of population status is complicated 
and expensive. 

In general, little is known about bear biology; therefore, management decisions are based on scant 
information. Adding to this, most of what is known about black bears in the Northern Rocky Mountains 
comes from studies done west of the Continental Divide (CD). This is an important consideration because 
habitats are quite different; thus black-bear population paramenters are likely quite different. 

The drier habitats found east of the CD provide fewer and lower quality riparian areas, lower habitat 
security, and less bear food then those typical of the west side. Because black bears mature and reproduce 
slowly, the effects of habitat changes and/or management actions can have severe effects on black bear 
populations. 

Although some research has been conducted on black bear populations found east of the CD (Aune and 
Kasworm 1989 in conjunction with a grizzly study; Swenson 1985 for an area south of Livingston, MT; and 
Rosgaard and Simmons 1982, Greer 1987, and Mack 1988 on the Beartooth Face south of Big Timber, 
MT.), the ecology of black bears in isolated or semi-isolated 'east side" mountain ranges such as the 
Elkhorns, is poorly understood. 

Currently, black bears may be hunted during spring from April 15 to June 15, and in the fall from the 
opening of the general archery season to the end of the general rifle season. As is the case with other game 
species, habitat security during these time periods is important. Roads open to motorized vehicles and a 
paucity of vegetative or topographic cover can render bears vulnerable to hunter harvest. 

Except for females with young and during the mating season in June and July, black bears are generally 
solitary. As with most solitary animals, even when available habitat is fully occupied, population density is 
low relative to the same situation with more gregarious species like deer and elk. The difference of a few 
bears is important to a population. 

In Montana, black bears typically hibernate from late-October/November until April/May. Due to the 
phenomena of "delayed implantation", the cubs are born during the denning period. Females with their 
cubs emerge in the spring with the cubs weighing only a few pounds; thus females with cubs need both 
food and security at that time. Black bears are omniverous and their diet changes throughout the season. 
In spring and early summer, grasses comprise the bulk of their foodstuffs while ants and other insects are 
important sources of protein (Pelton 1982, Greer 1987, Mack 1988). During the late summer and fall, bears 
depend on protein and fat rich foods such as berries and nuts. These food items are vitally important for 
putting on the fat reserves necessary for survival and reproduction during the winter months. 

86 



Home range sizes vary widely depending on habitat, sex, and reproductive status. In Montana east of the 
CD, reported home range sizes generally vary from 90 to 1 50 square miles (Rosgaard and Simmons 1982, 
Aune and Stivers 1 982, 1 983). Home ranges for males may overlap with other males and females but home 
ranges for females are more exclusive (Rogers 1987). 

Habitat quality affects the size, maturation rate, and fecundity of black bears. Land management actions 
such as livestock grazing and timber harvest have been shown to negatively affect bear habitat (Young 
and Beecham 1986; Unsworth etal 1989; Irwin et al. 1985). 

MOUNTAIN LION 

Mountain lions are currently found throughout the Elkhorn Mountains. As is the case for all of Montana, 
lion numbers are estimated to be at an all time high due to higher prey densities and hunting season 
restrictions (on lions). 

Mountain lions are the largest cat in the United States. They are solitary except during breeding and 
females with young. Along with their solitary habits, they are always secretive and therefore it is both difficult 
and expensive to determine population status and trends. 

Rocky, rugged terrain and cover are important mountain lion habitat components. These features afford 
lions places for successfully stalking prey and seclusion for hiding, feeding, and resting. Lions hunt by 
sneaking up on their prey and then making a final short rush for the kill. Therefore, cover which has prey 
within it is important. 

Home range sizes vary, but are generally between 1 5-35 square miles. There is often substantial overlap 
in home ranges except perhaps among resident males (Williams 1992). Within a geographic area, moun- 
tain lion distribution is often determined by prey. Lions eat a variety of species; however, deer species often 
compose the bulk of the diet (Russell 1978). Where elk are available, they too can be an important prey 
item. Other items are taken as opportunity arises. 

Currently, the hunting harvest of mountain lions is regulated by a quota. When the quota is reached, lions 
can no longer be killed, but they can be 'chased'. In the Elkhorns, 3 total lions may be annually taken. In 
1990 and 1991, harvest statistics showed that 28 hunters took a total of 6 lions. 

ELK 

Currently, there are about 2,000 elk that use the Elkhorn range. Elk censuses since 1981 are detailed in 
Appendix F. There are seven recognized, largely autonomous herd segments. 

Elk are an adaptable and flexible species in their use of habitat; therefore, a concise and encompassing 
characterization of overall elk habitat is impossible. Habitat is more easily characterized within a specific 
geographical area In southwest Montana, including the Elkhorn Mountains, elk are currently found in 
timbered mountainous areas adjacent to the lower elevation open grasslands/shrublands which are used 
for winter range. Most of the open valleys used by elk pre-settlement have been usurped by human uses. 

Generally, winter ranges are found on the relatively open hills below about 7000 feet elevation. The Crow 
Creek winter ranges which are used by 2 of 7 herd segments, are considered among the largest on any 
National Forest lands. Winter ranges for the remaining 5 elk herds include both public and private lands 
(depending on weather). Generally, about 70% of the total elk in the Elkhorns winter on public lands. 

Transition habitats, including both fall and spring calving areas, while somewhat consistent from year to 
year, are more a function of weather conditions than tradition. Calving areas tend to occur in the transitional 
areas between summer and winter ranges, which often have shrub, tree, or topographic cover adjacent 
to grassy foraging areas. Fall 'staging* areas occur where continuous cover near the winter ranges provide 
security from hunting pressure. 

Summer ranges are generally found at higher elevations. The preferred areas are those with an intersper- 
sion of forest and wet meadows. 

87 



Elk diets reflect their use of habitat. A detailed summary of elk diets in the Elkhorn Mountains during 1987 
is found in Appendix F. Grasses made up 64-85% of elk seasonal diets in the Elkhorn Mountains; Idaho 
and rough fescue predominated in the fall and winter diets, while sedges were important in the summer 
and fall. Bluegrasses were a dominant component of spring and summer diets, and forbs were most 
prominent during the summer. Lupine was the most common forb in summer diets. Browse or woody plant 
species made up over 10% of all seasonal diets except during the spring. Big sagebrush (Artemesia 
tridentata) was the most common winter browse and huckleberry species were common in summer and 
fall. 

Because of similarities of diet and feeding sites, there is the potential for resource competition between 
elk and other ungulates, including domestic cattle, deer, and potentially with bighorn sheep (if they were 
reintroduced). 

Cattle and elk eat many of the same forage species. Moreover, Stevens (1 966), Mackie (1 970), and Lonner 
and Mackie (1983) showed a behavioral intolerance of elk toward cattle. However, because of spatial, 
temporal, and species preference differences, there may be less competition than would be inferred from 
diet similarities alone. This was noted by Murie (1 951 ), Nelson (1 982), and Peek (1 982) for many areas used 
by both elk and cattle, and by Stevens (1 966) and Gordon (1 968) specifically in the Elkhorns. Nelson (1 982) 
used Stevens (1 966) and Gordon's (1 968) research in Crow Creek as an example of how spatial, temporal, 
and preference factors, reduced cattle/elk conflict. He stated (page 418), Therefore, reduction of summer 
cattle feed by elk in this area probably is minimal." Grover and Thompson (1986) determined that elk in 
the Elkhorn selected spring feeding sites that had been grazed by cattle the previous summer. The 
potential for competition between elk and mule deer is less than for many other ungulate species because 
of differences in diets and site preferences (Murie 1951, Constan 1972, Houston 1982, MacNeal 1984). 

Elk hunting is an important activity in Montana both economically and socially (Allen 1988). Hunting District 
(HD) 880, which includes the Elkhorn Mountains, is the one of the most heavily hunted and has one of the 
highest elk harvests of any of the hunting districts in Montana. Currently, harvest of all elk, except 
spike-antlered bulls, is controlled by special permits. This season type was initiated in 1987 to provide for 
a larger, more diverse age structure in the bull segment of the populations. The regulation has been 
successful, and has provided an incremental increase in older bulls each year since 1987 (Vore and 
DeSimone 1991). 

In addition to providing hunting recreation, the abundant elk numbers and inherently open landscapes in 
the Elkhorns provide a unique opportunity for non-consumptive recreation uses such as photography and 
viewing. The popularity of wildlife viewing has increased in recent years (Kruckenberg 1988). The Elkhorn 
Mountains is gaining a reputation as a place to view and photograph mature bull elk in all seasons (L 
O'Neil, pers. commun.). 

Elk vulnerability has emerged as a central issue in managing elk on public lands. Elk vulnerability is a 
measure of elk susceptibility to being killed during the hunting season. It may also represent the probability 
that elk are displaced from preferred habitats. Factors that influence elk vulnerability include both the 
habitat variables controlled by inherent factors and land management agencies (vegetation, topography, 
road density, distance from roads, size of vegetation blocks), and human variables, some of which are 
controlled by MDFWP (hunter density, hunting regulations, season timing, land ownership, hunter technol- 
ogy, traditions). 

Under the guidance of Forest Plans, hiding cover and road density have been used to evaluate elk 
vulnerability. Recently, these parameters were shown to be inadequate as a method of displaying the 
effects and tradeoffs of different types of management actions (Canfield 1991). Many biologists have 
begun to look at the concept of security areas as an alternative way of analyzing elk vulnerability issues. 

Security can be defined as the "protection inherent in any situation that allows elk to remain in a defined 
area despite an increase in stress or disturbance associated with the hunting season or other human 
activities'. Security areas are generically defined as 'any area that will hold elk during periods of stress 
because of geography, topography, vegetation, or a combination of those features" (Lyon and Christensen 
1992). 



88 



Security is important to provide a sporting hunting experience, to prevent displacement of elk to adjacent 
private lands, and to ensure carry-over of all age-classes of bull elk. In the Elkhorns, spike bulls are the 
most vulnerable age class since their harvest is unregulated. 

Hillis et al. (1991) developed a definition of security areas that included consideration of (1) the size and 
shape of vegetative cover blocks, (2) the distance of vegetative blocks from roads used by motorized 
vehicles, and (3) the proportion of the herd segment home range to be provided as security areas. For two 
areas in western Montana, they found that elk population objectives were met by security areas larger than 
250 acres, nonlinear, at least 1/2 mile from an "open* road, and totalling at least 30% of the fall use area 
They recommended that their "model" be adapted by the site-specific knowledge of local biologists in any 
given area 

Elk use a wide range of elevations during the fall hunting season in the Elkhorns. Depending on weather 
conditions, elk may spend the entire hunting season in relatively remote, densely forested, summer range 
habitats, or they may be concentrated by heavy snow on relatively accessible and open winter ranges. 

Security areas for 3 herd segments in the Elkhorns have been analyzed to date. These analyses defined 
security areas as patches of coniferous cover greater that 30-40% canopy closure, at least 1/2 mile from 
an open road, and at least 250 acres in size. The results were as follows: 

North Crow Herd 35% (30% on summer range) 

South Crow Herd 17% (all on summer range) 

Kimber Herd 25% (4% are "green") 

These analyses show that security may be deficient in years when weather conditions during the hunting 
season force animals onto winter range. However, the recently finalized State Elk Plan indicates that the 
current level of access provides a good mix of motorized and non-motorized hunting opportunity which 
has not displaced elk from public to private lands" (MDFWP 1992). In the event of substantive removal of 
forested cover (via wildfire or other means) or some change in the current season structure (from special 
permits to unrestricted bull harvest), the security issue should be reevaluated. 

MULE DEER 

Mule deer inhabiting the Elkhorn Mountains are of native, indigenous stock. Currently, the Elkhorn moun- 
tains supports a healthy herd of mule deer. Complete census data is lacking; however, 2,358 deer were 
observed on a helicopter flight over some of the winter ranges in the Elkhorns on January 5 & 6, 1991. 
Almost half of the deer occupied the Limestones Hills. Harvest statistics are one indicator of the status of 
the deer in the Elkhorns. As indicated by the location of kills given MDFWP during annual game harvest 
surveys, about 90% of mule deer harvest in HD 880 came from the Elkhorn Mountains and its associated 
foothills such as the Limestone Hills and Devils Fence area In 1990, 850 mule deer, including 694 antlered 
bucks, were harvested in HD 880 (MDFWP 1990). Relative to the rest of southwest Montana (MDFWP 
administrative Region 3), HD 880 (in 1 990) had the highest number of hunters, number of hunter days, mule 
deer buck harvest, and total mule deer harvest. These statistics indicate that the Elkhorns are one of the 
premiere mule deer areas in Montana 

The Rocky Mountain mule deer is the most widely distributed of all mule deer subspecies (Wallmo 1978). 
As such, they are adapted to an extremely broad variety of habitats. In general, mule deer favor semiarid, 
open forest, brush, and shrub lands associated with steep, broken, or otherwise rough terrain (Mackie et 
al. 1982). Deer in mountain/foothill habitats are often migratory. In summer they can be found in most 
habitats but are restricted in winter because of snow. In general mule deer prefer forbs and browse to 
grass. In winter they are often found on lower south facing sloped where there is less snow and shrubby 
vegetation for forage (Mackie et al. 1982). Shrubs are also important for cover. 

Little is known of specific mule deer habitat use in the Elkhorn Mountains; however it is known that the 
Limestone Hills, mostly on BLM lands, are heavily used by mule deer in the winter. Nine mule deer were 
radio-collared in the Limestone Hills during February 1982 (DeSimone and Thompson 1982). Spring/ 

89 



summer/fall ranges of these deer was along Crow Creek and its associated tributaries at elevations below 
Tizer Basin. Although a few deer moved as far as Warm Springs Creek to summer, it is cautioned that this 
very small sample of animals cannot be considered representative of mule deer use of the Elkhorns. 

There is little doubt that the Elkhorn Mountains provide excellent mule deer habitat. Based on harvest and 
census trend information, there is every indication that the Elkhorns can support a large number of mule 
deer. However, a combination of factors including road density, hunter numbers, and the natural topogra- 
phy of the land make male mule deer vulnerable during the fall hunting season. It is likely that those areas 
providing security for elk may be even more important to mule deer, who are unprotected by any special 
regulations. 

Based on population trend data found in Appendix F, only about 10% of the total population of mule deer 
in the Elkhorns has been composed of bucks since the 1 970's. Moreover, the ages of harvested mule deer 
bucks checked by MDFWP personnel indicates that few such deer live to be older than three years old. 

Mule deer are commonly seen along many of the roads and trails in the Elkhorns and are an important 
•watchable wildlife" species. 

ANTELOPE 

Antelope occupy primarily elevations found below the Forest Boundary on both BLM and private lands. 
Much of the habitat on the north and south end of the Elkhorns once occupied by antelope is now under 
cultivation. In addition, residential development has reduced the overall habitat base for this species and 
increased the potential for conflict with competing uses of the land. Therefore, population levels for 
antelope in this case are dictated largely by landowner tolerance and safety concerns. 

Generally, pronghorn habitat is characterized as low elevation, rolling, open vegetation, and with expansive 
terrain. Some sparse stands of conifer and/or juniper habitat may be used seasonally. The requirements 
of antelope habitat include good visibility and relatively flat terrain which allows for escape through fast 
flight. In Montana, antelope are most frequently associated with sagebrush/grassland communities (Bay- 
less 1 969). Water availability is seasonally important for antelope. When succulent forage is available, water 
consumption may be less than 1 quart per day. During dry summers, water availability becomes more 
essential and consumption may reach 1 -1 .5 gallons/day (Sundstrom 1 968). Antelope generally prefer fairly 
low vegetation (15-24 inches) and areas with a variety of vegetation types (Yoakum 1978). 

Bayless (1 969) found that the winter diet consisted almost exclusively of woody browse plant species, with 
only minor amounts of forbs and grass consumed. Big sage provided 45 % of the winter diet by volume. 
Beale and Smith (1970) found that in summers of above average precipitation, forbs made up 90 % of the 
diet, while in summers of below average precipitation browse species made up the majority of the diet. 

Pronghorns co-evolved with other herbivores including bison, elk, deer, and bighorn sheep, and there 
appears to be little problem of tolerance or competition with these species when and where forage is 
abundant (Yoakum 1978). 

Antelope distribution throughout most of the year in the Elkhorns is outside of the National Forest 
boundary. Typically, antelope are found in the lower elevation, open foothills and flats surrounding the 
Elkhorn Mountains. Specific knowledge of season long distribution is lacking and the only actual surveys 
are done once a year during the month of July. Additional observations were incidental while flying various 
other surveys or during the course of other work. Antelope have been observed on the Forest during 
summer months in Cold Springs Creek, Kimber/Dry Gulch area, and as high in elevation as the Muddy Lake 
Creek area above Jenkins Gulch. 

Administratively, antelope are currently managed in three hunting districts (870, 871 , and 880) surrounding 
the Elkhorn mountains. Hunting district 880 is on the east while districts 870 and 871 include areas on the 
southern portion of the Elkhorns. Surveys to monitor populations are flown annually with total coverage 
surveys being flown every third year and less intensive production surveys flown in interim years. Popula- 
tion objectives in all three districts are to stabilize numbers at current levels which are approximately 600, 



90 



400, and 500 antelope in hunting districts 870, 871 , and 880, respectively. These population levels seem 
to be what landowners are willing to tolerate. 

By the 1960's antelope were being hunted throughout this area. Within all the HD's, hunting regulations 
allow for both doe/fawn permits and either sex permits. Harvest statistics are found in Appendix F. Year 
to year comparisons are difficult due to the changes in district boundaries and tracking of harvests. 

Antelope are commonly seen from the major highways surrounding the Elkhorns. As such, they are an 
important "watchable wildlife" species. 

BIGHORN SHEEP 

Currently no bighorn sheep are known to occur in the Elkhorn Mountains, although bighorns were part of 
the pre-settlement native ungulate fauna. It is unknown when the last bighorns died in the Elkhorns. 
Buechner (1960:13) states that bighorns were "numerous in most mountain ranges of the West*. During 
the 1980's, a range conservationist for the U.S. Forest Service in Townsend found the skull of a bighorn 
ram in the Eureka Creek drainage. In addition, a Winston area rancher, recalled an old-time area resident 
now deceased who had seen bighorn sheep in the Beaver Creek drainage near the mouths of the South 
Fork of Beaver and Weasel Creeks, and a hunter reported he had seen bighorn sheep near the head of 
Sheps Gulch in the mid 1 980's. It is unlikely that this latter observation was part of a relict population of 
indigenous sheep and was more likely dispersing males from a nearby population. 

Except for the coastal ranges, bighorn sheep were once present in most mountain rages of the west and 
along most of the rugged "badland" areas of western plains watercourses (Buechner 1960). The majority 
of references to mountain sheep habitat stress the importance of rugged, rocky escape cover in proximity 
to grazing areas (Geist 1971, and many others). Additionally, rough, steep, rocky terrain may provide 
forage areas with little competition from other ungulates (Lawson and Johnson 1982). However, it should 
be noted that bighorn populations do exist in areas without extensive areas of steep, rocky escape cover 
such as Wildhorse Island in Flathead Lake (Woodgerd 1964) and the National Bison Range near Moise, 
Montana. The use of slope by bighorns varies temporally, by sex and age groups, and with the juxtapostion 
of vegetative cover and other physiographic variables (Geist 1 971 , Shannon et al. 1 975). In addition to the 
importance of rugged terrain, available water is an important factor on bighorn sheep range (Brundige and 
McCabe 1 986). 

Bighorn sheep prefer habitats that are relatively open with few trees; the ability to see for considerable 
distances around them is apparently important to their sense of security (Geist 1971). Although they tend 
to shun the depths of large, extensive blocks of continuous timber, small blocks of timber such as relatively 
narrow fingers between avalanche chutes, small discrete blocks, or the edges of larger blocks associated 
with cliffs or rugged escape cover can be important security components of habitat (Geist 1971, 1975, 
Thorne et al. 1 979, Brundige and McCabe 1 986). However, large, blocks of timber with continuous crown 
cover apparently do not hinder sheep movements (Geist 1971, 1975). Martin (1981) observed bighorns 
migrating more than 40 miles through timber between seasonal ranges. Thick timber can be important as 
refuge from adverse weather or when frightened (Lawson and Johnson 1982). 

Bighorn sheep tend to be very traditional in their habitat use (Geist 1 971 , 1 975). Generally, mountain sheep 
are not good pioneers of new areas relative to elk, white-tailed deer, or moose; however, Keating (1 982) 
documented an expansion of bighorn range north of Yellowstone National Park. Past experience has 
shown that areas suitable to bighorns from which they were extirpated will only be reoccupied by reintro- 
ductions (Geist 1975). 

Bighorns are primarily grazers but eat a wide variety of foods (Wishart 1978). Forage preference is often 
a function of availability (Lawson and Johnson 1982). This perhaps explains the generous spectrum of 
foods reported in the literature and some seemingly conflicting findings. A study in Washington state (Estes 
1 979) showed that Sandburg's bluegrass and brome species were preferred forage while bluebunch 
wheatgrass and Idaho fescue were avoided. These latter 2 species are often quoted as being favorite food 
items of bighorns (Constan 1972, Thorne et al. 1978). Winter diets of bighorns in Montana and Wyoming 
have been reported as varying from 36% to 90% grass and grass-like plants (Thorne et al. 1 978). Not only 
does the relative importance of different forage categories (grasses, forbs, and browse) appear to vary 

91 



between populations, but within a given population over different years as well (Thorne et al. 1978). 
Important shrubs identified in bighorn diets include mountain mahogany (Rominger et al. 1988) and 
sagebrush (Todd 1975, Thorne et al. 1978, Constan 1972). 

Competition can occur whenever animals vie for the same resources. Bighorns are generally considered 
to be poor competitors. Of concern to many researchers is competition with cattle and domestic sheep 
(Bueshner 1960, Wishart 1978, 1982, Jones 1980, Lawson and Johnson 1982, Rutherford 1986). Competi- 
tion with native ungulates as well, particularly elk and mule deer, as shown to have a negative impact on 
bighorns (Murie 1951, Buechner 1960, Thorne et al. 1979, Lawson and Johnson 1982). However, the 
dynamics of interspecific competition among native ungulates may not be as well understood as was once 
thought. This has resulted in differing interpretations of case histories in the literature. 

Bighorns have been successfully reintroduced to many similar areas in the state. Some early efforts at 
bighorn reintroduction in the West proved disappointing, however, in the last few decades much has been 
learned about making successful plants (Geist 1 975, Hansen et al. 1 980). Geist (1 975) points out that such 
activities should be part of an overall bighorn conservation strategy. As pointed out by Lawson and 
Johnson (1 982) an excellent treatise on current bighorn needs and conservation is given in The Wild Sheep 
in North America edited by James Trefethen (1975). 

FURBEARERS 

The group of animals classified as furbearers constitute a diverse fauna. The life history, habitat use, food 
habits, and past management of the more common species thought or known to exist in the Elkhorn 
mountains or immediate vicinity are discussed here. Animals classified as furbearers in Montana include 
the northern swift fox, lynx, bobcat, beaver, muskrat, otter, marten, fisher, wolverine and mink. Some 
species, such as the fisher and lynx, probably once occurred in this area but currently are not known to 
exist in the Elkhorns. The fisher was extirpated from Montana but through reintroductions is slowly 
becoming reestablished in the western part of the state. Lynx may occur in the Elkhorns but judging from 
harvest records the Elkhorns is on the periphery of their current distribution. For these reasons these two 
species are not discussed here. Some furbearers (such as mountain lions) have a regulated harvest. Other 
species often sought for their fur value are classified as predatory animals (coyote, weasel, skunk, civet 
cat) or non-game wildlife (badger, racoons, red fox) and are not subject to the harvest regulations of 
furbearers. Individual descriptions of the species in these two groups were not undertaken. 

Commercial harvest of furbearing species has occured for almost 200 years in Montana Shortly after the 
Lewis and Clark expedition of 1805-1806, the fur trade, targeted mainly at beaver, expanded throughout 
the West and particularly in Montana Fur trappers were responsible for much of the earty exploration of 
the West. By the 1 850's, when the silk hat was introduced, the beaver market crashed. However, by that 
time, beaver had been greatly reduced by trapping throughout most of their western range. 

Unrestricted harvest of furbearers slowly came to an end when in 1889 Montana became a state and 
passed laws protecting buffalo, quail, moose, elk, and beaver. By the late 1930's, fur seasons were 
restricted to a December 1 through April 1 5 season. During the 1 940's research was implemented by the 
Fish and Game in several areas. In 1959, three fisher transplants occurred in western Montana to restore 
extirpated populations, and in 1977 individual trapper limits were initiated on bobcats. A fur resource 
biologist was hired in 1978 to implement field research, continue harvest surveys, and address the 
requirements of the Commission for International Trade of Endangered Species in relation to bobcat, lynx, 
and otter. Research projects on most furbearing species have occurred over the last 30 years and continue 
in the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness area and in southwest Montana (marten ecology). 

Fur seasons in Montana are based on the concept that a surplus of animals are produced annually which 
will be reduced through natural mortality or human harvest. Trapping pressure is subject to fluctuations 
created by changes in pelt prices. As pelt values increase, unrestricted harvest could impact populations 
of certain species. For this reason trapping of the more sensitive species is highly regulated and a 
conservative approach to season lengths, quotas, and trapper limits has been taken. Individual furbearers 
are discussed in detail in Appendix G. 



92 



SENSmVE SPECIES (REGIONAL) 

In 1 992, the Forest Service contracted with the Montana Natural Heritage program to document the habitat 
relationships of sensitive species which may occur in the Elkhorn Mountains. In their draft document 
(Reichel et al. 1992), information on the following Region 1 (USFS) sensitive species was provided: 
ferruginous hawk, mountain plover, flammulated owl, boreal owl, black-backed woodpecker, Townsend's 
big-eared bat, northern bog lemming, wolverine, and lynx. The habitat relationships and recommendations 
are summarized below by species. 

Ferruginous Hawk - Associated with native short-grass prairies and, to a lesser extent, desert 
shrublands, ferruginous hawks may be expected to occur in Landtype Associations 1-4 and 11. 
Surveys are needed and should be conducted in early April. It is estimated that maintenance of 
grasslands in their 'natural' state in which there is high vegetative diversity, along with regulation 
of human disturbance, are priorities for managing habitat for this species. 

Mountain Plover - Associated with arid short-grass prairies, mountain plovers may be expected to 
occur in Landtype Associations 2, 4, and 1 1 . Breeding plovers are almost inevitably associated with 
areas of extremely short native grasslands on gentle topography and which exhibit substantial 
amounts of bare soil. Historically, plovers were found in association with prairie dog towns. Surveys 
have been conducted in the Elkhorns and have indicated the potential for plovers on BLM lands. 
Introductions of non-native grass species and conversion of grasslands to agriculture are counter- 
productive to maintaining plovers in the area. 

Flammulated Owl - Associated with old growth forests, these owls are a secondary cavity nester 
which feed almost exclusively on insects. They are expected to occur in Landtype Associations 1 -7 
and 9-10 where there is a component of Douglas fir and/or ponderosa pine forest which has some 
larger trees. Surveys are needed and should be conducted between early May and early Jury. 
Management of old growth to enhance an open savannah-like stratification, retain snags, and 
enhance vegetative diversity are recommended. 

Boreal Owl - Associated with relatively high elevation spruce-fir forests, boreal owls depend on large 
naturally occurring or woodpecker-excavated cavities in which to nest. They feed on small mam- 
mals. They are expected to occur in Landtype Associations 6-10. Surveys are needed and should 
be conducted between mid February and early April. Within these LTAs, aspen stands and old 
growth spruce-fir stands are important. Components to maintain or enhance include large diameter 
snags, wet meadows, and a mosaic of patch sizes and canopy closures. 

Black-backed Woodpecker - This non-migratory species is most often associated with recently 
burned forests. This is owing largely to its association with wood-boring beetles. Black-backed 
woodpeckers have been observed in those portions of Landtype Associations 3, 5, 6, and 9 where 
which were affected by the 1988 Warm Springs fire (see Figure 8). In addition, they may be expected 
to occur in any of the LTA's which contain mixed conifers or pines. 

Townsend's Big-Eared Bat - Tied to natural and man-made cave/tunnel habitats, this species has 
declined over most of its range due to the collapse and deterioration of adits, disturbance of roosting 
areas, and increased human visitation to maternity roosts and hibernacula In the Elkhorns, they 
may occur in areas underlain by sedimentary and/or limestone parent materials. These occur in 
LTA's 1 , 2, 4, and especially 1 1 . Management strategies pertain mainly to protection of caves and 
abandoned mines. 

Northern Bog Lemming - This vole is associated with riparian and wetland habitats having mats of 
sphagnum moss. Very little other information is known about this species. Therefore, if sphagnum 
mats are found in the Elkhorns, they should be buffered from all management activities which may 
have negative impacts. 

Wolverine - This circumboreal species is associated with a wide variety of habitats over its large 
home range. The wolverine is a generalist predator but appears to need seclusion such as that 
provided by wilderness or roadless areas. By themse'ves, the Elkhorns would not provide habitat 

93 



for a viable population. The Elkhorns should be considered within a larger context to develop a 
management plan for wolverines. 

Lynx - The lynx relies almost exclusively on snowshoe hares as its primary prey. It is associated with 
different habitats for denning sites, cover, and prey. Denning sites are associated with mature and 
old growth forest. Snowshoe hare habitat is dependent on winter browse species such as willow 
and birch being available. Cover is needed for security and stalking prey; openings greater than 1 00 
meters in diameter are not crossed. Landtype Associations in the Elkhorns which may compose lynx 
habitat include 3, and 6-10. By themselves, the Elkhorns may not provide habitat for maintenance 
of a viable population. The Elkhorns should be considered within a larger context to develop a 
management plan for lynx. 

BIRDS AND SMALL MAMMALS 

According to a preliminary survey conducted in 1 980, the highest diversity of birds and small mammals 
occur in the riparian habitats. In fact, riparian shrub habitats consisted of 1 5% of the samples and yet 
contained 67% of the total bird species observed during the survey. Grasslands and shrub/grasslands 
contained a fairly high diversity of bird species as well. Additional information on these 2 surveys is found 
in Appendix H. 

3. Desired Condition 

Because the Forest portion of the Elkhorns is a Wildlife Management Unit, there is general direction in the 
Forest Plan for the management emphasis to be achieved in each of the 4 Management Areas on the 
Helena National Forest. In addition, the overall direction states that habitat will be managed to support 
viable populations of species associated with existing ecosystems with emphasis on selected species that 
have seclusion as one of their habitat requirements. 

Forest -wide direction and BLM direction both direct for the management of threatented, endangered, and 

sensitive wildlife species. 

The specific Management Area direction follows. A note on the use of the word 'optimize' as it was used 
in Forest Planning. Optimize intends for the enhancement of the component within the limitations of "good 
management' for other resources; not at the expense of other resources. In addition, the wildlife goals 
listed for each Management Area are equal in priority to the goals for other resources (A. Howell, pers. 
commun.) 

Management Area E-1: Optimize elk winter range. 

Management Area E-2: Optimize mountain goat and summer elk habitat. 

Maintain or enhance moose and mule deer summer and fall habitat to the extent 
mountain goat and summer elk habitat quality is not diminished. 

Manage to maintain or enhance nongame wildlife species, visual quality, old 
growth timber, and water quality. 

Management Area E-3: Optimize elk carving and summer range. 

Maintain or enhance moose, mule deer, and other wildlife habitat and visual 
quality to the extent elk calving and summer habitat quality is not diminished. 

Management Area E-4: Optimize moose, elk, and mule deer habitat. 

BLM: Fish and wildlife habitat will continue to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis as a part of project 
level planning. No activities will be permitted in habitat for threatened and endangered species that would 
jeopardize the continued existence of such species. Sufficient forage and cover will be provided for wildlife 
on seasonal habitat. 



94 



In concert with the Forest Plan overall direction, the team" identified the highest priority wildlife desired 
condition emphasis to be biodiversity. This includes the restoration of habitats and/or habitat attributes that 
have declined from natural conditions, the restoration of native species where possible, and the restoration 
of 'natural' age and sex structures in big game populations. 

4. Management Direction 

In order to implement the desired condition for wildlife in the Elkhorns, the management emphasis is to 
implement the vegetation desired condition, thus restoring the habitats and habitat attributes necessary 
to sustain biodiversity. For certain fine filter* species such as those listed as Regionally sensitive and 
including hunted species for which there is little known information (eg. black bears), baseline survey data 
is essential to further management direction. 

In addition, emphasis is on increasing the quality of publicly owned winter ranges and areas important to 
moose. While not every elk herd will have 30% security, direction should be to evaluate and provide 
adequate security for big game during the hunting season. In order to restore a natural age structure in 
mule deer, there is a need to improve the number of older bucks in the Elkhorn population. Lastly, the 
feasibility of restoring or augmenting native species such as bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and beaver will 
be evaluated. 



95 



Part 3 

XI. SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC CONSIDERATIONS 

A. INTRODUCTION 

An ecological system at any geographic scale is the interdependent relationship of plants, animals, people 
and the ecological processes that link them with the physical environment of an area (USDA - FS 1992). 
The values placed on the Elkhorns by modern day users, in addition to its natural scenic and wildlife 
viewing amenities, include livestock grazing, mining, lands and special uses, and recreational uses of all 
kinds. The existing conditions of these uses are detailed below and in associated appendices. In addition, 
the social and economic trends which are likely to affect the future management of the Elkhorns are 
summarized below (From Eccles and Pitman, unpublished report, 1992). 

Throughout the past ten years, there has been a decline in the dependence on resource industries in 
Montana, including energy, mining, wood and paper products. The mining industry has stabilized in 
Montana; earnings from coal production and oil and gas drilling have decreased significantly over the past 
decade relative to previous periods. In contrast, recreation and tourism have recently "boomed' in Mon- 
tana. 

A recent study showed that visitors to Montana come from a wide geographic area; however, Washington 
State and California visitors were most represented (UM 1991). The majority of visitors to Montana stayed 
in auto/RV campgrounds and hotels/motels. The average length of stay for these visitors was just over 3 
days. Most of the visitors were here to vacation or recreate, and of those, nearly all stated they were 
attracted to Montana because of its scenery. Fishing, camping, wildlife viewing, history, and special events 
were also important attractions to many vacation visitors. 

Local residents are the primary users of the Elkhorns. Traditionally, local attitudes about the Elkhorns have 
varied. The Elkhorns Wilderness Study (1982) concluded that residents in Broadwater County favored 
multiple uses and timber harvest, whereas Jefferson County residents favored some wilderness, but also 
some minerals development. Lewis and Clark County residents were not characterized in the study, but 
respondents to the study from the Helena area were largely in favor of wilderness designation within the 
Elkhorns. 

Recently, community leaders in the tri-county area have expressed the desire to maintain the undeveloped 
or 'rustic' recreation experience currently available in the Elkhorns. 

As well as local sentiments, there are numerous issues that will have a direct effect on the Elkhorn 
Mountains by the year 2000. Those items include growth of population that reside in Montana and growth 
in the tourism industry in Montana; developed recreation facilities at nearby Canyon Ferry Resevoir; 
promotion of tourism along The Trail of the Great Bear (areas between Glacier and Yellowstone National 
Park); the decline in hunting and the increase in non-consumptive wildlife uses; and an aging population 
which will be more likely to use mechanized means of travel and be more willing to pay for guided 
recreational experiences and more developed facilities. 

The demand for the natural resources and how they affect the economy, local well being, and local, 
regional and national attitudes will also exert an influence on the future management of the Elkhorns. The 
major economic considerations in the Elkhorn Mountains include livestock grazing permits, minerals, and 
recreation/transportation/scenery management. Each is discussed below. 

B. LIVESTOCK GRAZING ALLOTMENTS 

1 . Forest Service Allotments (from S. Douthett) 

Forest Service grazing allotments were officially set up in the 1930's and 40's. Allotments included both 
cattle and sheep allotments. However, no active sheep allotments remain in the Elkhorn Mountains on the 
National Forest. There are 14 allotments within the Forest portion of the Elkhorns. Approximately 15,650 
AUM's are permitted. The status of allotments can be described as active, vacant, or closed AH of the 

96 



existing allotments are active except for Wilson, which is vacant. Active allotments can be in 'non-use' 
status for either resource reasons or for the personal convenience of the permittee. The Tizer Allotment 
has been in 'non-use' for 3 years. 

Although the grazing permits in the Elkhorns may not have a big effect on the the overall well-being of the 
local agricultural industry, these permits may mean the difference between an individual ranch surviving 
or not. 

A summary of the 14 existing allotments on National Forest lands follows. More detailed descriptions of 
the allotments are found within the individual Implementation Area documents. 



Allotment 


District 


AUM's 


Season 


North Beaver 


Townsend 


265 


6/21-10/15 


South Beaver 


Townsend 


1591 


6/16-10/15 


Diorite/Kimber 


Townsend 


280 


6/1-10/15 


North Crow 


Townsend 


3404 


6/11-10/15 


South Crow 


Townsend 


3322 


6/11-10/15 


Dahlman 


Townsend 


1693 


6/16-11/1 


Wilson 


Townsend 


vacant 




Elkhorn 


Jefferson 


2176 


6/16-10/15 


Tizer 


Helena 


100 


7/1-9/10 


McClellan 


Helena 


1331 


6/11-10/10 


Brown's 


Helena 


486 


6/11-10/10 


Maupin 


Helena 


1002 


6/1-9/30 



2. Bureau of Land Management Allotments (from V. Shea) 

There are 43 allotments on the BLM lands in the Elkhorn Mountains, supporting about 7,000 Animal Unit 
Months. Most of these are operated in conjunction with adjacent private lands. BLM classifies allotments 
into categories of maintenance "M", improve "I", or custodial "CV Those allotments with existing resource 
problems are included in category I. Presently, 16 of the 43 allotments are categorized as "I", 18 as 'M', 
and 9 as "C". The main problems with the allotments needing improvement include lack of water, conflicts 
with wildlife uses, noxious weeds, concentrated livestock use in riparian areas, and poisonous plants. In 
addition, one allotment, Limestone Hills, operates within the area used by the National Guard as a firing 
range. Specific allotment information is found in the Implementation Area documents. 

C. MINERALS (from B. Ihle, Elkhorn IRMA) 

Mining activities were the hub of human influence in the Elkhorn Mountains for many years (see Part 1 , 
history of man in the Elkhorns). Since 1980, a variable amount of mineral activity has occurred in the 
Elkhorns. By comparison, recent mining has occurred at a much smaller scale than the pre-1900 activity 
and the activity of the 1 930's and 40's. 

The geology of the Elkhorns is favorable to the development of a variety of ore bodies. Deposits of gold, 
silver, copper, molybdenum, lead, zinc, and iron have been confirmed. Extensive limestone, sand, and 
gravel deposits also occur in the area (USDA-FS 1989). 

There are approximately 125 patented mining claims and several thousand unpatented mining claims 
within the Elkhorns. Activity varies from exploration to production and is occurring on both patented and 
unpatented claims. More detailed information can be found for individual Implementation Areas. 

Minerals exploration activity is on-going on many of the patented and unpatented claims. Most of this is 
small, individual operator exploration. However, 3 areas have on-going activity on a larger scale. These 
include Giant Hill (gold) and Continental Lime (lime) in the Indian Creek drainage, and Elkhorn (gold 
exploration near town of Elkhorn). 



97 



There are numerous oil and gas leases that have been filed in the Elkhorns. They have been held in 
abeyance for approximately 12 years (unissued leases with a bond posted to retain lease rights). The 
Helena Forest is currently doing a Forest-wide oil and gas leasing EIS which includes all Forest lands in 
the Elkhorn Mountains. 

D. TIMBER 

In the past, timber from the Elkhorns contributed to a "steady flow of forest products' to the Townsend 
Lumber Company. By 1976, 1,900 acres, yielding a total of about 20 million board feet of timber occurred 
on national forest lands on the east side of the Elkhorns (USDA - FS 1976). 

A planning effort for the east Elkhorns in 1976 indicated that 44% of this area (which roughly approximates 
the Crow watershed) included productive forests. The wilderness study (1982) indicated that that portion 
of the Elkhorns could produce 7 million board feet/year under intensive forest management. 

As a result of the Wildlife Management designation, the Forest Plan direction for the Elkhorns does not 
include commercial timber harvest. Timber harvest may be used as a tool to enhance wildlife habitat within 
the "Elkhorn 1" management area Other forest products including post and poles, Christmas trees, and 
firewood, can be harvested from existing roads in E-1 during the dates where no area or road restrictions 
apply. No timber harvest is allowed in the core portion or "Elkhorns 2" management area (HNF 1986). 

Restrictions on timber harvest occur within the BLM's Muskrat Wilderness Study Area on the west side of 
the Elkhorns; however, BLM has forest stands in other areas of the Elkhorns where commercial can be 

allowed. 

E. LANDS (from B. Ihle) 

Because of its mining and homesteading history, there are a large number of patented lands within the 
boundary of the public land in the Elkhorn Mountains. The mining activity claims are concentrated on the 
east side of the range, whereas the homestead claims are concentrated in the northwest portion of the 
mountains. These latter lands tend to occur in larger blacks relative to the mining claims. 

Based on the criteria of consolidating ownership patterns and purchasing high value wildlife, recreation, 
or watershed tracts, a list was developed during Forest Planning that outlined the priorities in the Elkhorns 
for acquisition and disposal (a map is located in the project file). These specific parcels are listed under 
each Implementation Area. 

F. RECREATION (from T. Eccles, D. Payne, J. Jones, R. Moore, C. McKenna, A. Teegarden, C. Neal, S. 
Wyatt, B. Ihle, and J. Canfield) 

Summary: 



EC: 



ROS includes Roaded Natural, SPNM, and SPM 

Little difference between ROS settings relative to some other areas 

variety of recreational activities; hunting still most popular 

lack of knowledge about use levels and user desires 

reputation as uncrowded; low contact with other users 



DC: 



provide a variety of specific, well-managed, desired opportunities 

highlight special features for user enjoyment 

distinguish ROS settings more clearly 

meet standards for safety, sanitation, and resource protection 



98 



Summary: (continued) 




increase knowledge of users and use levels 

provide interpretive opportunities 

increase resource protection at popular dispersed camping sites 

provide the public information about recreation in the Elkhorns 

coordinate with tranportation system to satisfy demands of specific user groups 



1. Existing Condition 

a. Introduction 

Recreation in the Elkhorn Mountains includes a wide range of activities and users. Most of the use can be 
classified as "dispersed recreation activities', with most visitor days occurring during the big game hunting 
season. Existing recreation management of the Elkhorns emphasizes dispersed activities with little or no 
developed facilities. Agency presence consists mainly of signing and a few trailhead improvements. 
Recently, progress has been made towards increasing coordination and consistency of management 
efforts and practices between the Bureau of Land Management and the Helena and Deerlodge National 
Forests. 

As part of the overall Elkhorn Landscape Analysis, it is necessary to look at the entire Elkhorns and all the 
interrelated elements of recreation. The following section will examine specific elements that bring together 
the overall exlsiting conditions for recreation in the Elkhorns. These elements include; ROS settings, types 
of users, special features, transportations systems, types of recreation activities, and use conflicts and 
concerns. 

b. Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (ROS) 

People that recreate in a certain area choose the area because of a specific setting and activity in order 
to obtain a desired set of experiences. The ROS offers a framework for understanding and categorizing 
these relationships and interactions. ROS is divided into 6 major classes: Urban, Rural, Roaded Natural, 
Semi-Primitive Motorized, Semi-Primitive Non-Motorized, and Primitive. ROS theory and principles are 
further explained in Appendix I. 

The Elkhorns currently offer a combination of Semi-Primitive Non-Motorized, Semi-Primitive Motorized, and 
Roaded Natural settings (Figure 11). These settings are closely correlated with existing Management 
Areas (FS) and Management Units (BLM). 

About 44 percent of the Elkhorns is categorized as Roaded Natural (BLM lands, Management Areas E-1 
and E-4, much of the Deerlodge portion); about 29% is classified as Semi-Primitive Motorized (E-3 and 
Deerlodge); and about 27% is S-P Non-motorized (E-2). The Rural Setting also occurs on BLM lands near 
the town of Radersburg. 

ROS classifies and designates areas or sites that provide specific experiences. Experience opportunities 
differ from one area to another. For example an opportunity in a Roaded Natural setting in the Elkhorns 
may be different than a Roaded Natural setting on the Gallatin National Forest, or even the nearby Big Belt 
Mountains. The type of potential experiences available currently in the Elkhorns are described as follows 
by setting. 

Generally due to the recreation emphasis on dispersed uses, there is not as much distinction betweeen 
the ROS classes in the Elkhorns as in many other areas. For example, there are no facilities anywhere in 
the Elkhorns that would provide the desired experience for the user looking for a more 'developed' 
recreational experience. 



99 



ROADED NATURAL 

Roaded Natural (RN) is the largest setting in the Elkhorns. On the spectrum of opportunities, the RN areas 
provide the most 'developed* experiences, but even so, compared to other RN areas on the Forest or other 
Forests, the RN areas of the Elkhorns have less agency "controls" and hence are less impacted and allow 
more user discretion. 

Modifications to the Roaded Natural landscape in the Elkhorns are associated with mining, roads, and 
livestock grazing, and are very- noticable to visitors. The RN areas not only provide areas of motorized 
recreation opportunity, but also provide motorized access to some more remote areas of the Elkhorns. 
Although these roads provide travel opportunities, many do not meet standards for conventional use by 
highway-type vehicles. The RN areas of the Elkhorns are popular for users driving for pleasure as well as 
'Off-Highway* Vehicle (OHV) recreationists. 

Visitors in the RN areas of the Elkhorns are likely to have social encounters with other users while driving 
the road systems. Unlike RN areas in other locations however, the number of contacts in the Elkhorns can 
be described as low to moderate. Encounters are more likely to occur on weekends. It is possible there 
would be no encounters with other visitors during weekdays in the Elkhorns. 

Motorized and nonmotorized recreation activities such as driving for pleasure, OHV's, viewing scenery, 
picnicking, hunting, fishing, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing all take place in the RN setting. 
Although facilities and site development are compatible with management of RN areas, few exist in the 
Elkhorns. Present developments are limited to Forest Service and BLM land boundary and road signs. 
Restrooms, picnic areas and campgrounds are not provided. However, several "seasoned" dispersed 
camping areas have been established by users. Typically located along main roads and near streams, 
these sites receive traditional summer and fall use which is both associated with localized activities such 
as hunting and fishing, as well as providing a base for exploring more remote areas of the Elkhorns. 

Visitor management within the RN setting is very limited and on-site user controls are limited to seasonal 
road closures and locked gates. A visitor to the Elkhorns has very little indication of agency "management" 
in RN areas. 

SEMI-PRIMITIVE MOTORIZED 

A visitor to the Elkhorns doesn't notice much change upon leaving the RN and entering the Semi-Primitive 
Motorized (SPM) areas, although fewer roads exist in the SPM setting. Due to lower maintenance stand- 
ards, roads within the SPM areas may be more difficult to travel. These roads provide some recreation 
opportunities for licensed off-highway vehicles. At present, no developments other than road signs exist 
in this setting. The SPM provides direct access to some trailheads, which in turn provide access to the 
unroaded core of the Elkhorns (Management Area E-2). 

Social encounters are less here than in the RN. Although fewer in number, encounters here may actually 
be more "personnal" because users are generally travelling more slowly in vehicles or on single lane trails. 

Although modifications to the landscape do exist, they are less noticable in the SPM relative to the RN 
settings in the Elkhorns. Areas of traditional camping use exist here but are generally less visible than in 
the RN areas. Management efforts are visible only at trailheads. Compared to the RN, SPM provides more 
opportunity for self discovery and exploration from both motorized and nonmotorized means. 

SEMI-PRIMITIVE NON-MOTORIZED 

In the Semi-Primitive Non-Motorized (SPNM) areas of the Elkhorns, travel is limited to foot, horseback, or 
other non-motorized means (eg. mountain bicycles). Signs are limited to trail numbers and names. 
Modifications such as scars from old placer and lode mines, exist but are generally "self-reclaiming". 

Social encounters in this setting are very limited, but do exist. Encounters in this setting of the Elkhorns 
are very few relative to SPNM areas of a popular wilderness area for example. In the SPNM of the Elkhorns 
you are more apt to have a social encounter with a deer or elk than another hiker! Little to no visitor 

100 



RECREATIONAL OPPORTUNITY SPECTRUM 

CLASSES 

Elkhorn Mountains 




Recreation Opportunity Spectrum Classes 

SPNM = Semi-Primitive Non Motorized 
SPM = Semi-Primitive Motorized 
RN = Roaded Natural 



FIGURE 11 



management efforts is visible here other than regulations prohibiting motorized access into Management 
Area E-2. In spite of these regulations, violations (motorcycles and 4-wheelers) do occur. The number of 
violations is currently thought to be low, but has never been systematically documented. 

The SPNM areas provide the most remote experience to Elkhorn visitors. Activities include horsepacking, 
backpacking, hiking, hunting, fishing, mountain bicycling, cross-country skiing, and viewing wildlife. 

c. Characteristics of Elkhorn Users 

People who use the Elkhorns are generally from the surrounding local communities (Wilderness Study, 
Vore and DeSimone 1 990). Although some of the users are familiar with, and use the entire mountain range, 
many concentrate activities in areas "closest to home". For example, residents of Boulder tend to use the 
area around the town of Elkhorn for hunting and other forms of recreation, whereas Townsend residents 
are often most familiar with the Crow Creek and Indian Creek areas. Users from the Helena area outnumber 
those from all other communities (Vore and DeSimone 1990). Helena users tend to be least tied to one 
particular area of the mountain range; this may be due their ability to access 2 sides of the mountain range 
easily (J. Canfield, pers. commun.). 

Many users are hunters. Although human densities outside of the hunting season are low in comparison, 
it appears that many of the hunters also use the Elkhorns for other forms of recreation such as wildlife 
viewing, fishing, and hiking. Therefore it appears that hunting initiates recreational use, but that other 
attractions result in year-round visitation by the same clientele (J. Canfield, personnel observations). 

Many people are attracted to the inherent naturalness and the present "uncrowded" condition of the area. 
Users tend to be traditional; that is there is a high level of repeat visitation. Even with repeat visitation to 
the area, user knowledge of the Elkhorn's unique features and designation is fairly limited. 

d. Special Features and Setting 

The setting of the Elkhorns is important. This isolated mountain range lies in close proximity to several 
larger communities including Helena, the capital of Montana, Boulder, Butte, Bozeman, Three Forks, and 
Townsend. Adjacent mountainous areas include the Continental Divide and the Big Belt Mountains. The 
Missouri River and Canyon Ferry Resevoir lie between the Big Belts and the Elkhorns. A current planning 
effort associated with Canyon Ferry is likely to result in new recreational facilities and developments. This 
in turn is likely to attract additional users into the area. Therefore, a unique recreation setting in a relatively 
small geographic area is provided by the combination of a highly developed, motorized experience on one 
side of the highway (Canyon Ferry) and a more primitive experience on the other side (Elkhorns). 

The recreational setting within the Elkhorns begins upon exiting from any of the highways that bound them. 
Generally the visitor enters public land on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) . Many 
of these areas have gentle topography, vegetation typical of arid conditions (sagebrush, grass), and can 
be accessed year-round due to the lack of snow. 

The transition from the lower elevation BLM lands to the lands managed as a Wildlife Management Unit 
by the Forest Service includes grassy foothills and open forested/sagebrush mosaics. Much of the Forest 
Service lands are characterized by solid timbered areas broken by grassy parks and meadows, and 
includes the high elevation alpine terrain surrounding the major peaks (Crow, Elkhorn, Casey, Crazy, and 
High Peaks). 

Many of the potential attractions in the Elkhorns are natural features associated with the geomorphology 
of the area or with botanical/biological attributes. This includes several unique geologic features such as 
the Limestone hogbacks, giant granitic boulders, glacial moraines, and cirque basins. Water provides a 
special attraction to recreational users. Besides providing an excellent fishing opportunity, Crow Creek is 
known the for the deep canyon scenery along its course including Crow Creek Falls. Set against the higher 
peaks in the Elkhorns, the glacially carved lakes (Hidden, Glenwood, South Fork, Leslie, and Tizer lakes) 
provide both a destination for fishing and for scenic landscape viewing. The great range of elevations and 
landforms in the Elkhorns provides for an inherent diversity which in turn supports a rich mosaic of both 



101 



plant and animal communities. The Elkhorns are especially known for the diversity and abundance of big 
game species which include moose, bear, elk, mountain goat, deer, and antelope. 

The combination of scenic and natural attributes with a variety of access provides for a diverse array of 
recreational experiences. In addition, the Elkhorns offer some unique opportunities especially relative to 
wildlife viewing. 

Numerous cultural and historic sites are features of attraction to Elkhorn users. The recently restored Eagle 
Guard Station has historically drawn people to the east side of the Elkhorns. Strawberry Butte fire lookout 
tower, easily accessible and used by visitors from Helena, is one of the few remaining lookouts used for 
fire detection. The historic townsites and mines such as Elkhorn, Hassel, Ruddville, Diamond Hill and 
Kleinschmidt mines also attract visitors who are interested in the mining history of the Elkhorn Mountains. 

e. Recreational Activities 

The Elkhorn users participate in variety of recreational opportunities including camping, fishing, hunting, 
picnicking, sightseeing, wildlife watching, nature and history study, winter sports, and a variety of motor- 
ized and nonmotorized activities. 

HUNTING 

Hunting season sports the highest human densities in the Elkhorn Mounatins. The Elkhorns are one of the 
most heavily used hunting areas in Montana (DeSimone and Vore 1992). Spring bear hunting occurs in 
the area from mid-April through mid-May. While there is some hunting for upland birds during the fall, the 
vast majority of the hunting activity occurs during the big-game hunting season. Big-game hunting begins 
during the archery season, early September, and extends through the general rifle season, the end of 
November. The primary big game hunted are elk and deer, but a limited number of permits are also issued 
for antelope, moose and goats. 

Most hunting occurs from roads and trails, and most of the heavy use and harvest occurs in the roaded 
portions of the Elkhorns. The Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks monitoring of elk harvest shows that much 
of the harvest occurs within one mile of a road. A more remote experience is found in Tizer Basin which 
includes-some limited access by motorized vehicles. There are several hunting camps which are tradition- 
ally erected in the Elkhorns. These camps were established and are usually occupied by the same hunting 
parties each year. The trail systems are used by horsemen and people on foot that wish to have a more 
secluded hunt. 

FISHING 

Lake and stream fisheries potential exist throughout the Elkhorns. Crow Creek offers good fishing for brook 
and rainbow trout throughout its length. South Fork Crow Creek and South Fork Crow Lakes are also fished 
for brook trout of varied sizes. Most of the fishing within Tizer Basin is associated with other recreation 
activities, but includes Tizer Creek, Prickly Pear Creek and Wilson Creek. Lake fishing for brook trout is 
popular at the motorized-accessible Tizer and Leslie Lakes, and for the hiker or horseperson, Hidden and 
Glenwood Lakes provide fishing for brook and cutthroat trout, respectively. 

CAMPING 

There are no formal campgrounds in the Elkhorns; however, a number of suitable dispersed camping areas 
are habitually used each year in various drainages and along various road systems. There is notable 
vehicle camping use near the Tizer lakes, and backpacker use at Glenwood and Hidden lakes. The western 
shoreline of the Tizer Lakes has been seriously impacted through overuse. Some hunters maintain 
traditional camps each year, although the Helena Forest has a 14 day campsite limit. 

HIKING 

Hiking trails are used for fishing, hunting, and wildlife viewing, as well as providing access to the remote 
backcountry of the Elkhorns and Tizer Basin. The trails are numbered and coorespond to numbers on the 

102 



Helena Forest travel plan map. (See the Trails explaination under Transportation). Most of these trails are 
accessed from signed trailheads with varying degrees of development. A limited number of trails begin or 
end at private land and are unavailable to the public. 

Popular hikes include those to the South Fork, Leslie, Hidden and Glenwood Lakes. The trails outside of 
Tizer Basin without a lake destination receive little summer use but are used at moderate levels during the 
fall big-game hunting season. Trails in the Elkhorns are noted for long traverses through open grassland 
parks and meadows where elk can often be seen feeding. 

CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING 

Cross-country skiing is becoming increasingly popular in the Elkhorns. At this time there are no designated 
cross-country ski trails within the area Skiers use the existing trails and roads. More advanced skiers take 
advantage of the open slopes and meadows in the backcountry of the Elkhorns. There are no winter 
parking facilities provided in the Elkhorns. Within the winter closure area on the east end of the Elkhorns, 
skiing is used as a means to view elk during the winter months while they are concentrated in the foothills. 
The limiting factor for skiing on the east side of the Elkhorns is the availability of sufficient snow. 

OFF-HIGHWAY VEHICLES 

Many types of off-highway vehicles are used within the Elkhorns, including ATV's, trail bikes, dune buggies, 
snowmobiles and 4-wheel drive vehicles. Off-highway vehicle use is enjoyed as an activity itself and 
associated with other recreational uses. Because snowmobile use is limited by the lack of reliable snow 
and by winter travel restrictions, most existing OHV use occurs during the summer and fall. 

Because of its status as a Wildlife Management Unit, restrictions on motorized travel are commonly used 
as a tool to protect and enhance wildlife habitat in the Elkhorns. Motorized travel on Forest lands within 
the Elkhorn Mountains is restricted as identified in the Forest Plans. The core portion or E-2 lands in the 
Elkhorns are closed yearlong to motorized vehicles. The eastern flank, which includes most of the big game 
winter range (E-1) in the Elkhorns, is closed from December 1 to May 15 to motorized uses. In addition, 
one area (Kimber/Weasel) is closed to motorized uses except on designated routes (Weasel, Kimber, and 
Indian Creek roads). Tizer Basin (E-3) is open to motorized vehicles only on designated routes except the 
area is open to snowmobile use after November 30th. The BLM lands in the Crow Watershed outside of 
the National Guard firing range, are open yearlong to all motorized uses at present. The Resource Plan 
for these lands indicate a need to restrict access for the objective of enhancing mule deer winter habitat 
and ensuring public safety. 

There are travel violations within the Elkhorns. These are often associated with hunter use of roads 
restricted within area closures (Deerlodge, Kimber/Weasel), and with OHV use on non-motorized system 
trails. These violations have caused soil/vegetation disturbance in several locations. In addition, OHV 
violations conflict with management objectives to provide nonmotorized recreation opportunities. 

OUTFITTING 

Because of the high amount of surrounding local use of the Elkhorns by hunters, outfitting has not played 
a big role in the Elkhorns (MDFWP 1 990). Before bull elk having branched antlers were harvested by permit 
(1987), there were four outfitters operating in the Elkhorns who used about 400 use days of the 439 use 
days allocated in the Forest Plan to outfitters. With implementation of the permit system, which limited a 
general elk license holder to shooting spike bulls, outfitters found they could not book sufficient hunters. 
Two outfitters remain in the Elkhorns and have used less than ten use days in recent years. Both of these 
outfitters have base camps in Swamp Creek, Poe Park, Crazy Creek and Beaver Creek. 

One outfitter has been interested in trying to promote summer watchable wildlife trips in 1992. Other 
outfitters have applied for day-use permits to hunt in the Elkhorns and have been refused due to an overall 
Helena National Forest policy that prohibits additional outfitting permits. 



103 



ELKHORN ULTRAMARATHON 

An interesting and colorful event that takes place annually on Forest roads and trails is the Elkhorn 
Ultramarathon Race. This event is a locally sponsored 1 00 kilometer footrace which has attracted approxi- 
mately 60 participants and many support participants in each of the past three summers. Relative to other 
ultramarathons, participants state that the Elkhorn run offers great scenic diversity and wildlife viewing. 

VIEWING WILDLIFE AND SCENERY 

Motorized and other means of travel to view scenery and wildlife is a popular use of the Elkhorns. In 
addition, wildlife viewing as a recreational activity is gaining increasing popularity as a non-consumptive 
year-round use of wildlife. Currently, there are no designated viewing sites or wildlife interpretative pro- 
grams; however, elk are commonly seen in Weasel and Crow Creeks in the winter and in the abundant 
meadows and grassy parks in other seasons. Goats are often seen at a lick near Tizer Ranger Station and 
above Glenwood and Hidden lakes in Tizer Basin. Moose are commonly seen in Crystal and Wilson Creeks 
as well as in Tizer Basin. Deer are abundant overall, and antelope are commonly seen in the lower foothills 
and on the BLM lands on the eastern side of the mountain range. Opportunities to see predators such as 
mountain lion and black bear are limited but definitely available to the astute observer. Scenery viewing 
is available throughout the mountain range. Distinctive scenery includes the rock outcrops and canyons 
found in many locations, the peaks (Casey, Elkhorn, Crow and others), waterfalls (Crow Creek, Little Tizer), 
cirque basins (Glenwood, Leslie, Tizer), and areas of diverse vegetation (eg. Casey Meadows). 

Scenery is discussed below under the "visual" analysis. In addition, several attractions in the area draw in 
sightseers. These include the "Old Woman's Grave' site on BLM lands in the Limestone Hills, the ghost 
town of Hassel on Indian Creek Road, and the historic Eagle Guard Station in Eagle Basin. 

HORSEBACK RIDING 

Horseback riding occurs in areas described for hiking. Pack and saddle stock are mostly used in the fall 
hunting season and throughout the spring and summer months by permittees. 

MOUNTAIN BICYCLING 

Mountain biking is becoming an increasingly popular activity in the Elkhorns. Biking occurs on many of the 
system roads and trails; and year-round on BLM lands which are generally free of snow. 

SNOWMOBILING 

There are no snowmobile trailhead facilities or groomed or marked snowmobile trails in the Elkhorns. Most 
of the snowmachine use in the Elkhorns occurs in the vicinity of the town of Elkhorn and along the Prickly 
Pear road going into Tizer Basin. 

CABINS 

Two administrative cabins are located in the Elkhorns, these are Eagle and Tizer cabins. In addition, there 
are several private cabins on patented claims and a few illegal 'occupancy* cabins on Forest lands. The 
Tizer cabin is currently used by trail crews and other personnel from the Helena Forest and Montana 
Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. It has been renovated and will be evaluated for use in the Forest 
Service Cabin Rental Program. The Eagle Guard Station is being restored by a regional team to include 
its original features. The Eagle Station is being evaluated for a rental cabin and for possible use as a 
visitor/interpretive center. 

RECREATIONAL MINERAL ACTIVITY 

Recreational mineral activity, which includes panning, rock collecting and mine dump prospecting occurs 
on a limited scale in the Elkhorns. Visitors are attracted primarily to areas that have had previous mining 
activity to explore and photograph old equipment and structures, collect rock specimens from dump piles, 
and possibly try their hand at panning if there is a nearby stream. The ghost town of Elkhorn is a popular 

104 



attraction. Others who have had a mining claim or two for many years will camp for a weekend on or near 
their claim and conduct their annual assessment work. 

FIREWOOD CUTTING AND CHRISTMAS TREES 

Firewood cutters and folks cutting Christmas trees occur in the Elkhorns, with most use occurring along 
the access routes near the towns of Helena, Boulder, and Townsend. Firewood cutting has increased in 
those areas burned by the 1988 Warm Springs Fire due to tne availability of dead wood. 

f. Use Conflicts and Concerns 

With the variety of recreation and travel activites that occur in the Elkhorns, and the designation of the 
Forest part of the area as the Elkhorn Wildlife Management Unit, conflicts are likely to arise. The following 
existing conflicts or concerns have been identified: 

(1) Land Ownership 

There is a conflict with agency identity and public knowledge of boundaries and regulations. There is also 
a lack of sign consistency across BLM and Forest Ranger Districts. 

(2) Transportation Management 

Roads and trails are often the result of repeated use rather than designed and engineered. Hence, many 
do not meet existing Region 1 standards and may be impacting soil, water, or wildlife resources. Many 
others have safety concerns. 

The trail system is extensive with many of the trails serving similar destinations. Outside of the hunting 
season, this system, which is expensive to maintain, is only lightly used. Many trail segments do not meet 
Region 1 standards. 

(3) Control of Noxious Weeds 

Noxious weeds are being spread by users in the Elkhorns. 

(4) Education of Elkhorn Users 

Very little information is available for informing and educating Elkhorn users in various facets of orientation, 
visitor safety and backcountry use ethics. 

(5) Increasing Use of the Elkhorns 

Use of federal lands is on the increase, thus demands for areas like the Elkhorns will increase resulting 
in a change in the area character. A "plan of action' for managing increased recreation use in the Elkhorns 
does not exist currently. 

(6) Lack of monitoring data 

Presently there is a lack of recreation monitoring data available specific to the Elkhorns regarding recre- 
ation visitor days (RVD's), trail registration data, or traffic counter data 

2. Desired Condition 

Forest and BLM direction for recreation includes emphasis providing a broad range of activities commen- 
surate with demand, maintenance of existing facilities, and highlighting existing opportunities using Recre- 
ation Opportunity Guides (ROG). The Helena Forest and Elkhorn Mountain direction is to emphasize 
dispersed (vs. developed) recreation opportunities. 



105 



Recreation managers have determined that the overall recreation goal in the Elkhorns is to provide a full 
spectrum of well managed recreation activities for all users, including motorized and nonmotorized users 
within the guidelines provided by the ROS spectrum, but also tailored" to the objective of maintaining the 
overall 'rustic' or undeveloped flavor* of the Elkhorns. 

Desired Conditions that will 'support' the overall recreation goal for the Elkhorns are as follows. If these 
conditions are being provided, the overall goal will be met. 

Specific, well-managed (safe, consistent, enjoyable, and with minimal conflict), desired experi- 
ences are present throughout the mountain range. Clear, consistent information (including 
signing) is available when needed to direct users, minimize conflict or enhance experiences. A 
spectrum of appropriate opportunities/services are available and managed for, in roaded natu- 
ral, semi-primitive motorized, and semi-primitive nonmotorized areas of the Elkhorns. Facilities, 
including dispersed sites, meet standards for safety, sanitation, and resource protection. 

There is ample knowledge about Elkhorn users which is used to plan and manage the recreation 
program. Special features unique to the Elkhorn mountains are highlighted for users to enjoy 
and learn more about without compromising the uniqueness and naturalness of the features 
themselves. All exisiting and potential conflicts and concerns have been analyzed and mitigated 
to reduce adverse impacts. 





ROS 


spectrum: 






RN 


SPM 


SPNM 


ACCESS 


full range of access op- 
portunites 


motorized & nonmotor- 
ized trails & prmitive 
roads 


non-motorized trail 


REMOTENESS 


full range of sight and 
sound of human activity 


1/2 mi. from primitive road 
to not closer than 1/2 mi. 
from improved road 


1/2 mi. to 3 mi. from all 
motorized use 


FACILITIES 


site protection, some us- 
er comfort & native mate- 
rials used 


rustic facilities for site pro- 
tection only, native mate- 
rials used 


same as SPM 


ENCOUNTERS 


mod to high contact on 
roads, mod to low contact 
on trails 


6-1 5 parties met per day, 
6 or less at camp sites 


same as SPM 


VISITOR IMPACTS 


subtle site hardening 


subordinate impacts, lim- 
ited site hardening 


subordinate impacts, no 
site hardening 


MANAGEMENT 


on site controls but har- 
monize, simple informa- 
tion system 


subtle on site controls, 
very limited information 
system 


same as SPM 


VQO'S 


mod/partial retention 


partial retention 


retention 


SIZE 


no minimum size 


min 2,500 acre 


min. 2,500 acre 


CAPACITY 


L-.083 to H-2.5 people 
per acre 


L-.008 to H-.083 people 
per acre 


same as SPM 



106 



3. Management Direction 

The focus of management to achieve the desired recreation conditions in the Elkhorns will be to gather 
additional information about users and use conflicts, focus on meeting regional standards for signing, 
safety, and resource protection, and to enhance existing uses through interpretion, trailhead improve- 
ments, and transportation improvements. 

It is projected that recreation use of the Elkhorns will increase. Therefore recreation management will 
attempt to focus that use in appropriate settings to enable maintenance of the uncrowded, rustic character 
that existing users seem to desire. 

Improvements will generally be associated in the Roaded Natural and Semi-Primitive Motorized settings. 
This will result in greater differentiation in the experiences provided between ROS settings. 

Use of a phased-in recreation program will be based upon demonstrated needs and analysis. A monitoring 
strategy will be developed to determine effectiveness of planning and implementation efforts. 

In order to help implement the desired condition of highlighting the diverse and unique features available 
in the Elkhorn Mountains and the recreational and interpretive opportunities they present, an interpretive 
strategy was developed as a supplement to this landscape analysis. The interpretive strategy is organized 
by an interpretive planning process that results in recommendations for site specific project implementa- 
tion. The recommendations are based on resource potential, management needs and audience analysis. 

The objectives of the interpretive strategy are: 

to complement the management direction for the Elkhorn Cooperative Management Area and that 
is compatible with Forest and Resource Management Plans, the Forest Recreation Strategy, ROS 
classifications and the Landscape Analysis. 

ensure that the interpretive program of the Elkhorns meets the needs of the recreating visitor in both 
the present and future; make Forest recreation goals more site specific to the Elkhorns; ensure 
continuity in the direction of interpretation development for the Elkhorns even after personnel 
changes. 

provide recommendations for interpretive topic selection, theme and message content and media 
opportunities. 

The interpretive strategy should be used as a planning tool for reaching desired conditions where the role 
of interpretation or education are identified as a management opportunity. Although interpretation is 
normally associated with recreation activities, other resource programs should consider the use of interpre- 
tation. Goals and objectives have been identified for the following topics; visitor orientation/information, 
Elkhorn Cooperative Management Area management, general management practices, sustainable 
ecosystems, fish and wildlife, geology and mineral deposits, cultural resources and fire ecology. 

In addition to the interpretive supplement which will be appended to this landscape document, other 
specific opportunities have been identified to be implemented Elkhorn-wide to reach Desired Conditions 
for recreation. These are opportunities that should not just be limited to specific Implementation Areas, but 
throughout the Wildlife Management Unit or the Cooperative Management Area. They include: 

develop and implement as a partnership among FS, BLM and MDFWP, a Recreation and Travel 
Management strategy that will be specific to the needs of the Elkhorn Cooperative Management 
Area for long-term planning purposes. 

develop and distribute a Recreation/Transportation map. 

develop and implement interpretation opportunities including orientation and education information 
in the form of publications to the public, (i.e. Guide to the Elkhorns brochure). 



107 



install trail visitor registration boxes at select trailheads. Utilize the information gathered to determine 
user trends and preferences. 

actively seek out potential volunteers and partnerships that will provide funding or resources for 
implementing specific proiects. 

hire an additional 'Elkhorn' field employee to assist in gathering all types of monitoring data and 
ensuring visitor travel compliance. 

in partnership with the BLM and the Montana Highway Department, install signs along the highways 
that recognize the Elkhorn Mountain range as the 'Elkhorn Cooperative Management Area' or the 
•Elkhorn Wildlife Management Unit*. 



G. Transportation Systems (from C. McKenna, D. Payne, J. Jones) 

Summary: 



EC: 



substandard roads and road signing 

use levels highest on 'main' roads; use on all roads high for hunting 

substandard trails and trail marking inconsistent 

some trailheads not accessible by 2WD 

no OHV-specific trails 

signing of poor quality and inconsistent across boundaries 

generally within Forest Plan open road densities 



DC: 



variety of road standards targeted for a hierarchy of uses 

transportation system meets both user and other resource objectives 

standards met for roads and trails on transportation system 

open road densities are within recommended levels 

access to public lands is ample 

public is aware of opportunities/restrictions 



MD: 



complete a transportation plan for the Elkhorns 

clear, consistent travel management 

some roads and trails targeted for specific user groups 

prepare sign plans for roads and trails and travel management 

obtain legal ROW where needed across private lands 



1. Existing Condition 

a. Roads 

Access to the Elkhorns from the highways and Interstates that surround it is primarily from a network of 
declared and/or petitioned county roads and private roads on which there is no existing rights-of-ways 
(USD A-FS 1 989) (Figure 1 2) . There has been no transportation planning for the area Most of the Elkhorn 
Mountains are accessed by an extensive road and trail network that was developed primarily for mining 
and its associated activities. Many of these roads were first used in the late 1800's as wagon roads and 
improved in the early 1 900's to accommodate motorized traffic. Roads developed for timber cutting before 
1950 were used primarily to transport mining timbers and cord wood. In the 1950's, 60's and 70's some 
roads were constructed to access commercial timber sales. These latter roads are generally higher 
standard and serve as 'arterial' routes. 

The existing transportation system consists of a mixture of county, private, and Forest development roads. 
Approximately 322 miles of roads have been inventoried in the Elkhorns. These are mostty concentrated 
on the southern and eastern portions of the mountain range (USDA-FS 1989). 



108 



ELKHORN MOUNTAIN MAJOR ROADS 



Helena 




FIGURE 12 



Most of the roads in the area are single-lane, low standard roads. Generally road alignment is poor, suitable 
only for low speed traffic. All of the roads except for the Crystal Creek Road and a portion of the main Crow 
Creek road have native material surfaces. Little maintenance has been done on most of the roads, and as 
a consequence the travel surfaces are rough. Little consideration was given to drainage when the roads 
were built; consequently, erosion is a serious problem on many roads. Although some roads receive 
maintenance every year, many of the roads are never maintained on a regular basis. 

Major roads include the following: Old Woman's Grave Road (county), Crow Creek Road (#424), Johnny 
Gulch (#621), Dry Creek (#517), Elkhorn (#258), Muskrat (#441), Prickly Pear (#424), Warm Springs 
((#226), McClellan Creek (#294), Crystal (#401 7), Pole Creek (#491), Weasel Creek (#405), Kimber Gulch 
(#4189), Indian Creek (#360, #4031), and S. Fk. Crow (#277). Most of the traffic occurs on these routes 
with the exception of during the big game hunting season. Traffic has been monitored on road #424 on 
the east side of the Elkhorns recently. Between the dates of 5/28/92 and 12/1/92, 3,955 vehicles drove on 
this road. 

In addition to the major routes in the Elkhorns, there are many local roads. These are all single-lane roads 
with native material surfaces. Generally these roads were established through repeated use, are in poor 
condition, and are useable only by high-clearance vehicles. Use of these roads is probably less that one 
vehicle per day except during the hunting season. Use on local roads in other areas has indicated that 
these roads can receive up to 10 or more vehicles a day on weekends during the big game hunting season 
(Canfield, pers. commun.). 

b. Open Road Densities 

The entire National Forest lands in the area contains 146 square miles. This area contains 158 miles of 
inventoried roads open to motorized vehicles during hunting season. This results in an overall open road 
density of 1 .08 miles of road per square mile of area. It must be remembered that this is only for inventoried 
roads, and in much of the study area there are many miles of non-inventoried roads. As an example, road 
density calculated using the travel plan map for the Crow area (Johnny Gulch to Indian Creek) was 1.51 
roads/section compared to 2.92 miles/section using the transportation "B" maps and photos (Vore 1991). 
In the Kimber/Weasel area, travel plan open road density was found to be 0.86 miles/section and the 'B' 
maps and photos revealled a road density of 2.61 miles/section. 

c. Trail System 

Many of the trails in the area were established to provide access to mines or for fire suppression. As such, 
many of the trails do not provide access to any specific destination, and there are many trails that provide 
access to the same destination. Ultimately, most of the trails have a terminus in Tizer Basin (Figure 13). 

Although most of the existing use is by horseback or foot, before the mid 1980's most of the trails were 
also used by motorized trail bikes. Many of the trails are sub-standard due to narrow tread width, steep 
grades and lack of adequate drainage structures. The main trails include Crow Creek (#109), Clear/ 
Longfellow (#112), Muskrat (#72), Elk Park (#113), Montgomery Park (#301), Casey Meadows (#343), 
McClellan (#302), Poe Park (#110), and Beaver Creek (#115). These trails are cleared nearty every year 
and a few have limited improvements such as water bars or wooden bridges. 

Within the Elkhorns, use on system trails includes hiking, pack and saddle stock, fishing, mountain biking, 

and limited cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. Although there is substantial summer use, the majority 
occurs during the fall big-game hunting season. 

Access to some of the trailheads is from roads passable in good weather by 2-wheel drive vehicles. 
However, other trails are accessed (eg. Tizer Basin) from low standard roads which do not accomodate 
highway-type vehicles. 

With the exception of the Hidden Lake Trail, all trailheads are signed but do not have trail register boxes. 
The Deerlodge has recently constructed a trail register box at the trailhead to Leslie Lake. Trail signing is 
inconsistent across the mountain range. Trail junctions on the Helena District have recently been signed 
and meet Regional Sign Standards (routed white oak) . One trail on the Townsend District (#112) is signed 

109 



to standard, but other trails on the Townsend and Jefferson Districts exhibit a variety of sign types. Trail 
marking is also inconsistent. The user crossing the mountain range will find a combination of blazes, cairns, 
plastic diamonds, and trail arrows on posts along the trails. Additional trail assurance markers are needed 
on several trail segments. 

These "system" trails are those documented, identified and maintained by the Forests. It should be noted 
however that there are other trails and "troads" within the area which have not been identified or inventoried. 

"System" trails within the Elkhorn Mountain Wildlife Management Unit were partially inventoried within the 
past two years. Review of these inventories and documentation of past trail management activities indicate 
that most of the trails require some level of reconstruction or relocation. Trails that are located in the area 
of the 1988 Warm Springs fire are especially in need of trail maintenance. 

2. Desired Condition 

The Forest Plan and RMP state that road management will be in conjunction with user safety, resource 
protection, economics, minimizing conflicts, and protecting facilities/improvements. Consideration is also 
given to public sentiment. Priorities for trails include the correction of unsafe conditions, and restoration 
of trails to standard designs. 

Specific to the Elkhorns, direction is to restrict vehicular access to maintain wildlife habitat values, while 
still providing "reasonable" access to private in-holdings and valid mining claims. In Management Area E-1 
and C-5, access by motorized means is prohibited from 12/1-5/15 annually to protect winter range, and 
open road density during the 5/1 6-1 1/30 period is not to exceed 2 miles of road per section. In Management 
Area E-2 and C-6, the entire area is closed year-round to motorized vehicles. In Management Area E-3 and 
C-7, motorized access is restricted to designated routes except for snowmobile use outside of the hunting 
season. In addition, designated routes will not exceed about 0.5 miles/section. In Management Area E-4 
and C-8, motorized use is unrestricted unless it conflicts with wintering big game. Open road density in 
these areas does not exceed about 1.5 miles/section. 

The RMP states that travel planning is a high priority for the Elkhorns. Seasonal restrictions are applied 
where necessary to mitigate for the impacts of human activities on important seasonal wildlife habitats. 

To implement the desired condition for transportation in the Elkhorns, the needs of recreationists and 
administration must be carefully orchestrated with the protection of soil, water, vegetation, and wildlife 
resources. In addition, private lands and access to the public lands are important considerations. There- 
fore, the desired condition can be described as follows: 

The transportation system consists of routes suitable for a variety of vehicle classes; such routes 
are well-defined according to suited use. Erosion, weed spread, and conflicts with wildlife are 
identified and mitigated along any route. A signing strategy is implemented that assists in the 
identification of roads, private lands, closed areas, and Agency boundaries. Access to public 
land accross private lands are gained through cooperative efforts. 

Travel alternatives will be considered in areas that will give OHV users a desired recreation 
experience. 

Trails provide access to desired destinations and provide safe and enjoyable (no excessive 
grades) use. In addition, erosion and weed spread are controlled through appropriate means. 

4. Management Direction 

Some specific "Elkhorn-wide" opportunities include: 

Develop and implement as a partnership among FS, BLM and MDFWP, a Recreation and Travel 
Management strategy that will be specific to the needs of the Elkhorn Cooperative Management 
Area for long-term planning purposes. 



110 



ELKHORN MOUNTAIN TRAIL SYSTEM 













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Develop and distribute a Recreation/Transportation map. 

Install road counters on major and some minor roads throughout the Elkhorns to gather more 
accurate RIM use data. 

Provide uniform road and trail signing across all land boundaries in the Elkhorns. 

Develop a trail maintenance schedule based on priority levels (safety, resource degradation) 
and a three-year rotation schedule. For example a list of trails will be developed based on those 
needing immediate maintenance attention. After all tne trails have been maintained, a three-year 
schedule will begin. Every trail will receive some level of maintenance every three years. 



H. Visual Quality (from R. E. Moore) 

Summary: 



EC: 



diverse scenic resource 

mining activities (often on private land) visible and obtrusive in areas 

timber harvest units generally meet criteria for Modification VQO 

from foreground, prescribed burns incongruent with natural colors 

visual impacts associated with livestock management 

signing is visually unappealing 

offers views of Broad Valley Rockies Landscape Character and panoramic views of adjacent 

mountain ranges 



DC: 



meet VQO's in Forest Plan 

complement the line, color, and texture of the characteristic landscapes 

sensitive viewing areas are identified and managed by distance zones 



MD: 



management actions are compatible with VIS classes 

where visual quality does not meet VQO, design rehabilitation actions 

consistency between BLM and FS 



1. Introduction 

Viewing scenery is an important aspect of the recreation experience for visitors to the Elkhorn Wildlife 
Management Unit. The area contains natural and cultural features that lend themselves to dispersed 
recreation uses. Scenic quality is an important feature of most recreation activities in the Elkhorns. Viewing 
Elkhorn scenery and wildlife is one of the main reasons people visit the mountain range. People's concern 
for Elkhorn visuals became especially evident after the 1 988 Warm Springs fire. This event helped man- 
agers understand the importance of scenery to forest users. 

The American people are concerned about the quality of their visual environment. Visual quality dependent 
activities such as watching scenery and wildlife while driving for pleasure is the number one recreation 
activity on National Forest lands. Because of this concern, the "visual landscape* is a basic resource, to 
be treated as an essential part of and receive equal consideration with the other basic resources of the 
land' (Forest Service Manual 2380). 

The Visual Management System provides the framework within which to inventory the visual resource. 
Visual quality objectives (VQO's) provide measurable standards for the visual management of National 
Forest lands. VQO's can be considered as visual resource management goals. More information on VQO's 
are found in Appendix J. More information is found in the publication: National Forest Landscape Manage- 
ment, Volume 2, Chapter 1 (Agriculture Handbook Number 462). 



111 



The Elkhorn Mountains fall within the Broad Valley Rockies Landscape Character Type. Most of the area 
has a moderate to high visual appeal, and meets Variety Class B (Common) criteria. Numerous large 
upland meadows converge with mixed conifer stands. 

The Forest Plan did assign a general VQO to each of the Elkhorn Management Areas, i.e. E-1 = modifica- 
tion; E-2 = retention (which includes Elkhorn Peak amd Crow Peak); and E-3 = partial retention (which 
includes Forest Road 164), within the Elkhorns. The assigned VQO's loosely correlate to the Recreation 
Opportunity Spectrum "setting" indicator of Naturalness. Another reason for assigning a modification VQO 
in the E-1 management area was to allow manipulation of vegetation with fire. (A. Howell, pers. commun.). 

2. Existing Condition 

a. Forest Service Lands 

The Elkhorns has a bedrock geology of basalt and granite, with evidence of glaciation: cirques, glacial 
trough walls, and morraines. The landscape is characterized by rounded ridges, steep slopes with rock 
outcrops, cliffs, and two dominant mountains, Elkhorn and Crow peaks. Grassy slopes and large open 
parks break up the continuous conifer stands. Numerous creeks and several small lakes further contribute 
to a landscape of moderate to high diversity and hence moderate to high scenic qualities. The peaks and 
large open parks provide panoramic vistas, both within the Elkhorn WMU and to the landscape surround- 
ing the WMU. 

Evidence of mining and associated wheel tracks or dozer-constructed roads can be seen within the 
Elkhorns, especially in Tizer Basin and near eastern access roads. The landforms created by past mining 
activities are visually unrelated to those of the characteristic landscape in form. At many sites vegetation 
has not grown back, leaving bare soil and mounds. 

Past timber harvest has occurred in Hall Creek and S. Fork Crow Creek (Hog Hollow area). Several large 
clearcuts can be seen to the south from Eagle Guard Station. The units generally meet the criteria for the 
Modification VQO because unit shapes somewhat mimic natural openings in the area Also near Eagle 
Guard Station, several acres of sagebrush and conifers were burned due to 'colonization' into rangelands. 
The black sagebrush skeletons and dead conifers dominate the foreground views and are incongruent 
with natural colors. 

Many drainages throughout the Elkhorns show visual impacts from grazing. Bare spots and beaten out 
areas occur near watering structures (stock tanks) and in salted areas. Some stream banks are broken 
down, and the vegetation is cropped very close to the ground in many riparian areas. In several areas, 
fences create straight lines. In addition, there is a high contrast in the color and texture of vegetation from 
one side of a fence to the other (between grazed and ungrazed areas). Some stock tanks seen from roads 
and trails are bare metal or rusted. In some cases they are a shiny metal. 

Signs are inconsistent both within and across land ownership boundaries. Signs in the Elkhorn Mountains 
vary in material, colors and state of repair. 

Wildfires burned over one-third (46,900 acres) of the Elkhorn WMU in 1988. There is a perception that the 
public accepts the visual results of the 1 988 Warm Springs Fire; however, this is probably a "data gap" and 
needs to be further investigated. 

In addition to Casey Meadows and Casey Peak, Crow and Elkhorn Peaks are popular hiking areas and 
offer panoramic views over the Elkhorn Wildlife Management Unit as well as mountain ranges such as the 
Missions, Bitterroots, Flints, Pintlars, Pioneers, Tobacco Roots, Madison, Absaroka, Crazies, Bridgers, 
Castles, and the Little and Big Belts. 

b. Bureau of Land Management Lands 

The existing Visual Resource Management (VRM) classification for BLM lands is Class IV. The management 
objective for this class is to provide for activities which allow major modification of the existing landscape. 
The level of change ot the characteristic landscape can be high. These management activities may 

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dominate the view and be the major focus of viewer attention. However, every attempt should be made 
to minimize the impact of these activities through careful location, minimal disturbance, and repetition of 
the basic elements. 

The existing condition of the BLM lands is generally compatible with the objective for VRM identified in the 
Resource Management Plan. 

There are three possible areas that provide 'sensitive' viewing points relative to the BLM lands. These 
include both lanes on Interstate 15 and the State Highway 287/12 from Helena to Townsend. Activities 
within the foreground on the section of highway from Winston to Townsend on Highway 287/12 draw 
immediate attention and in turn affect the psychological outcome associated with enjoying visual quality. 

All the BLM managed lands lie within the "Foreground - Middleground zone". That is, BLM lands are the 
■preview* of what is to come in the Elkhorns. This consideration places a special emphasis on those lands 
that can be seen from major travelways and that initiate viewing of the Elkhorn Mountains. At present, the 
disturbances that attract attention include roads built for mining, and the lime processing plant near 
Townsend. 

Viewing within the Elkhorns on BLM land takes place primarily from the Crow Creek, Indian Creek, and Old 
Woman's Grave roads. 

3. Desired Condition 

The overall visual resource goal in the Elkhorns is to meet visual quality objectives throughout the mountain 

range as follows; 

FS E-1: partial retention (foreground in sensitive viewing areas)/modification (mid and back- 
ground in sensitive viewing areas. Fore, mid and background in other viewing areas). 
FS E-2: retention (fore, mid and bacground). 
FS E-3: partial retention (fore, mid and background). 

FS E-4: partial retention (foreground in sensitive viewing areas)/ modification (mid and back- 
ground in sensitive viewing areas. Fore, mid and background in other viewing areas). 
BLM : modification. 
BLM Limestone Hills: partial retention (protect views from Hwy 287) 

Overall, scenic values will be managed to complement the form, line, color and texture of the characteristic 
landscapes in the Elkhorns. Sensitive viewing areas (travel routes, use areas, water bodies) are identified 
and managed by distance zones according to the Visual Management System. 

4. Management Direction 

Management directions will follow guidelines for VQO's. Directions will be compatible with other resources 
and will be coordinated with recreation and travel management. 

Management actions are compatible with VIS classes. 

Some specific opportunities for implementing the desired condition for scenery management include: 

Evaluate sensitive viewing sites for inclusion into the Forest Plan as sensitive viewing areas; 
identify rehabilitation projects where appropriate. These sites are either distinctive in scenic 
values or are known to have special values to many visitors. They include: Crow, Elkhorn, and 
Casey Peaks; Eagle and Tizer Guard Stations and Strawberry Butte Lookout; Crow Creek 
corridor; Warm Springs Road (#226); Warm Springs Interpretive Sign Site; Willard and South 
Fork Crow Creeks Trailheads; all hiking trails. 

Coordinate visual quality standards between the FS and BLM. Coordinate with the Lime Plant 
and National Guard relative to the Limestone Hills. 



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Insure adequate attention to visual quality during planning and implementation of vegetation 
and wildlife project work. It may be difficult to achieve the desired condition for vegetation and 
also meet Visual Quality Objectives within the time frames outlined by the VMS. Public informa- 
tion and environmental education will be provided to increase understanding and acceptance 
of visual changes to the landscape resulting from management activities. 

Survey user attitudes about their visual perceptions of burned areas. 

J. Special Uses 

1. Existing Condition 

The primary special use of the Elkhorns is the Right-of-Way agreement between the BLM and the National 
Guard which authorizes the use of about 20,000 acres in the Limestone Hills as a training range. Additional 
special uses include the Bonneville Power Authority (BPA) 500-kV powerline corridor accross the BLM 
lands in the Limestones and Johnny Gulch, and a powerline corridor for a 114 kV line that supplies the 
mines in the Weasel Creek area on the Helena National Forest. 

2. Desired Condition 

All existing and newly proposed special use activities that are implemented have been analyized and 
mitigated to reduce adverse impacts. 

3. Management Direction 

In order to implement the desired condition for special uses, additional effort is needed to work with the 
National Guard in consideration of public safety, recreation opportunity, and mule deer winter range needs. 



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XII. INTEGRATED DESIRED CONDITION 

A. Introduction 

The concept of desired condition comes from 'desired future condition*. The definition of desired future 
condition (R-1 Our Approach) is "a concise statement that describes a desired condition of the land to be 
achieved sometime in the future. It is normally expressed in broad general terms and is timeless in that 
it has no specific date by which it is to be completed." 

Desired condition is different from desired future condition. In this document desired condition is a concise 
statement that describes the status of resources across the landscape to be achieved in a time frame of 
about fifty years. For the purposes of implementation, desired conditions are expressed as specifically as 
our present knowledge allows. Generally, the desired conditions focus on the biotic resources such as 
vegetation and wildlife, conditions for sustaining a desired recreation program, and important social and 
economic outputs such as livestock AUM's. 

Desired conditions were initially described for the three major resource categories in the Elkhorns -- 
vegetation, wildlife, and recreation. These individual desired conditions (DCs) were developed either 
entirely from direction in the Land Management Plans (Forest Plan and/or BLM Resource Management 
Plan), or were derived from the range of natural variation where specific information was unavailable from 
Land Management Plans. For example, the LMP's contain no description of specific desired vegetation 
conditions. Therefore, the DCs for vegetation are derived in part from the range of natural variation. 

B. Individual Resource Desired Conditions 

While the desired conditions were described earlier under the various resources in the document, they are 
presented here in summary. Brief desired condition statements are also presented here for items not 
specifically discussed in the resource sections (eg. cultural resources and livestock). 

1 . Vegetation Desired Conditions 

Major vegetation (grasslands, shrublands, riparian and coniferous types) and unique vegetation communi- 
ties (bitterbrush, ponderosa pine, mountain mahogany, narrowleaf cottonwood, wet microsites, aspen, old 
growth) are managed to reflect the distribution, structure, function, and composition that was maintained 
under natural conditions. 

Specific prioritized objectives for vegetation are as follows: 

a. Increase riparian areas to represent the amount reflecting the upper end of the range of natural 
occurrence Manage along streambanks such that streams and floodplains function to store water and 
sediments. In addition, manage to restore or maintain the structure and composition of vegetation that 
better reflects site potential (eg. willow community vs. spruce-fir community). 

b. Maintain longterm soil productivity. Restore processes which incorporate organic material into the soils 
where soil measurements demonstrate less than adequate organic content. Manage to decrease the 
percentage of exposed soils by maintaining adequate plant and litter cover on a year-round basis; increase 
the cover of native plant species and decrease the occurrence of non-native or weedy species. 

c. Manage for the distribution and occurrence of grasslands, shrublands, and conifers within the natural 
ranges of variation. In the appropriate habitat types, manage for open savannah structure (low density of 
bigger trees) in Douglas fir and ponderosa pine. Manage conifers to represent a natural range of succes- 
sional stages/age classes which are dynamic in space and time. 



115 



d. Maintain species/habitats of limited distribution at amounts and in age classes which reflect the upper 
end of the range of natural occurrence. Species/habitats of limited distribution include the following: 

sensitive plant species 

aspen 

bitterbrush 

mountain mahogany 

narrowleaf cottonwood 

ponderosa pine 

old growth 

wet areas around seeps and springs 

black sagebrush 

e. Manage to establish a mosaic of age-classes which reflect natural patterns in lodgepole pine and 
subalpine fir communities. 

2. Fish and Wildlife Desired Conditions 

Maintain habitats such that biodiversity is sustained over time. Restore habitats and/or habitat attributes 
that have declined from natural conditions. 

Specific prioritized objectives are as follows: 

a. Understand and manage habitats of Regional and State sensitive (and if found, threatened and 
endangered) species to maintain the habitat attributes (eg. nesting trees) which in turn will ensure some 
level of population density necessary to contribute to population viability on a larger scale. 

b. Native fish and wildlife species are restored to their historic ranges where habitat exists (or can be 
restored) to sustain their populations. Fish habitat is enhanced or maintained to support self -perpetuating 
native and recreational fisheries. 

c. Winter ranges on public lands are managed for high quality and adequate quantity of forage to increase 
the number of animals wintering on public lands from 70% to 90%. Forage quality includes a balance of 
biomass and palatibility (i.e. not all plants are old with lots of dead material). Human disturbance is 
controlled on big game winter ranges (this is primarily focused on motorized access, but may include 
non-motorized access). 

d. Hunted/harvested species are managed such that there are sex and age distributions that reflect the 
unhunted conditions. 

e. Security (defined as "large" blocks of cover at least 1/2 mile from motorized access) areas function to 
prevent displacement of elk and deer during the big game hunting season as well as to prevent overharvest 
of desired sex and age classes. As a starting point, security areas compose about 30% of the herd unit 
of each of the 7 elk populations and are well distributed across seasonal habitats. Security recommenda- 
tions should be evaluated on an elk herd basis to address specific conditions. 

3. RecreationrTransportation Desired Conditions 

A full spectrum of dispersed quality recreation opportunities are provided for all users, including motorized 
and nonmotorized users. 



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Specific, prioritized objectives are as follows: 

a. Where demand exists, specific opportunities are provided to enhance the safety and enjoyment of 
recreationists in the Elkhorns. An example is marked and designated user-specific (OHV, Mountain Bike, 
X-country ski) routes. 

b. Facilities, including dispersed sites, meet Regional or agency standards for safety, sanitation, and 
resource protection. 

c. A transportation/travel management strategy takes into account where users want to go in the Elkhorns, 
where they start from, how they get there (eg. 4 WD vs 2 WD), how 'sophisticated' the users are. This 
information, in conjunction with information on where managers want people to go or where they don't want 
people (eg. critical wildlife habitats) will help meet overall recreation desired condition. 

d. Information signs of all types meet current standards for clarity and quality, and are consistent across 
district and agency boundaries. 

e. Information and services (interpretive program that includes a range of media) are provided when 
needed to help educate or promote understanding of the cultural, biological, and/or physical resources. 
A watchable wildlife program is developed using regional guides. 

f. Attempts are made to relocate users displaced by management decisions (eg. restricted motorized 
access) within the same management area or within the mountain range whenever possible. 

4. Watershed Desired Condition 

Stream courses and flood plains store water and sediments. The extent of riparian vegetation reflect natural 
conditions. Water quality meets State and Federal water quality standards. Soil condition is favorable 
throughout the watersheds. 

5 . Visual Quality Desired Condition 

Scenic values are managed to complement the form, line, color and texture of the natural landscape. 
Sensitive viewing areas (travel routes, use areas, water bodies) are identified and managed by distance 
zones according to the Visual Management System. 

Visual Quality Objectives in Land Management Plans are met by Management Area. For E-1/E-4 and BLM 
lands, the visual quality objective (VQO) for foreground viewing (sensitive viewing areas on the Helena 
Forest are listed in Appendix B of the Forest Plan) is "partial retention' and is 'modification' for midground 
and background viewing. For E-2, the VQO is "retention" for all areas . For E-3, the VQO is 'partial retention* 
for all areas. 

6. Cultural Resources Desired Condition 

Those cultural sites considered "significant to history" and "eligible" for listing on the National Register of 
Historic Places have all been officially nominated to the Register, well documented, stabilized, and protect- 
ed from degradation. Section 1 06 of the Antiquities Act is followed. Important prehistoric sites are identified, 
well documented and protected. Interpretative measures help provide public understanding and enjoy- 
ment of cultural resources. 

7. Minerals Desired Condition 

Minerals activities are managed to minimize impact to other resources through the use of timing and 
access stipulations. Opportunities to withdraw critical areas from mineral entry are considered when 

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resource objectives can not be met through mitigation. Reclamation objectives are compatible with other 
resource desired conditions and native seed mixes and shrubs are used to revegetate disturbed sites. Old 
mining sites on public lands are reclaimed and stabilized to prevent further degradation but with regard 
also for maintaining the integrity of cultural resources. 

On BLM lands, minerals are developed without unnecessary and undue degradation as stated in the 
Surface Protection Regulations, the 1872 Mining Law, and FLPMA. 

On patented lands where mining activities may affect public lands, coordination with the Department of 
State Lands insures that degradation of public lands does not occur. 

8. Livestock Management Desired Condition 

Livestock numbers are maintained unless deterioration of range conditions occur. Grazing should be in 
harmony with the desired conditions of other resources including maintenance of adequate plant and litter 
ground cover, nutrient recycling, and forage for wildlife species. Livestock grazing does not compromise 
restoration and/or maintenance of riparian communities. 



C. Conflict identification 

Once individual DCs were developed, they were compared for potential conflicts by the core interdisi- 
plinary team. The following summarizes the conflicts that were identified for resolution. 

1 ) Increasing grasslands and decreasing conifer colonization will decrease cover which may be functioning 
as hiding cover for big game. 

2) Removal of shrubs and conifers decreases habitat for some wildlife species. 

3) Opening up conifer stands may compromise the quality of hiding cover for big game species. 

4) A decrease in hiding cover may lead to additional road restrictions and therefore decrease motorized 
recreation opportunity. 

5) Watchable wildlife program may result in disturbance on winter ranges. 

6) If colonization areas are not treated, eventually may affect soil and water resources, and result in a loss 
of productivity. 

7) Providing for a mix of age classes in conifers may affect the quality of the recreation experiences, 
especially regarding viewing of scenery. 

8) Manipulation of vegetation (burning, cutting) has the potential to negatively affect visual quality. 

9) Increasing recreation use (by making the area more attractive to potential users) may cause additional 
wildlife disturbance. 

10) If conifers are not managed, may create conditions leading to catastrophic fire and ultimately the 
destruction of important security areas. 

11) Promotion of some kinds of recreation (OHV, mtn. bike) may cause soil disturbances. 

12) Maintaining 30% security areas may affect ability to manage within range of natural variation and 
therefore the ability to sustain biodiversity. 

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13) Increasing and restoring riparian areas may have impacts on livestock numbers. 

D. Conflict Resolution 

Resolution of conflicts between the desired conditions for individual resources was accomplished during 
facilitated interdisciplinary team discussions. The results included modification of some of the resource 
objectives. In addition, stipulations or mitigation measures were developed to offset any conceived nega- 
tive effects that might result from achievement of a particular desired condtion. This in turn insured that 
the desired resource objectives were integrated and compatible. 

The following is a summary of the conflict resolution results: 

1) To offset the effect of removing conifers and shrubs on the amount of elk/deer hiding cover/security, 
species associated with existing shrub communities, and scenic values; the objective for grasslands will 
be to manage for the lower end of the natural range and to manage at the upper ends of the ranges for 
both shrubs and conifers. 

Mitigation measures to be considered during planning for projects that increase grasslands/decrease 
shrubs and/or conifers include the following: 

leaving dead tree skeletons on site if they are determined to provide needed screening and do not 
interfere with visual quality objectives 

retaining some conifers along open roads where needed to provide screening 

closing roads where vegetation removal decreases the amount of security; road closures should be 
during hunting season only to offset impact on recreation opportunity 

elk security areas will be identified on maps; these areas may not be treated to achieve vegetation 
objectives 

achievement of the vegetation objectives will include an assessment of the visual quality effects. 
Patterns of vegetation manipulation will reflect mosaics of non-linear patches. 

black sagebrush communities will not be targeted for burning. In addition, site re-occupation 
following treatment of sage stands will guide the amount and timing of future treatments (eg. wait 
until a mid-seral community is established before treating the adjacent stand). 

There is always a mosaic of age classes across the landscape. Juniper, sagebrush, and conifers 
are never completely removed from any area. 

2) In order to offset the concern for big game hiding cover/security and reducing canopy closure in Douglas 
fir and Ponderosa Pine stands, areas for treatment will be prioritized according to the following factors: 

areas where soil loss is ongoing or where there is the potential for accelerated soil loss 

areas of high old growth forest values 

areas that are not critical in the short-term for providing elk security during the hunting season 

areas where opening the stand would enhance visual quality 

areas near a defensible fire boundary 

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Where stands are treated, the following mitigation measures are considered: 

At least 30% canopy closure is maintained in identified elk security areas 
Junipers will be left to provide screening except where they act as "ladder fuels". 

3) In order to insure that recreation uses are compatible with other resources, developments will only be 
considered when there is documented public demand for that development. In addition, the transportation 
system and other facilities or interpretive media will be viewed as tools to direct and defer human use in 
any particular area. For example, development of a wildlife viewing site will channel most users to that site, 
therefore allowing critical sites to be left undisturbed. A winter program must be flexible (relative to closing 
sites if conditions get tough) to meet animal needs. Site specific conflicts (eg. erosion, sedimentation) must 
be identified and resolved on a site specific basis. 

4) To insure that neither wildlife h abitat nor recreational quality are compromised by the objective of 
creating a mosaic of age classes in the lodgepole pine and subalpine fir communities, the following 
stipulations will apply to any project proposals: 

No new roads will be constructed in Management Area E-2. Roads in other MA's must have a NET 
positive benefit to the overall wildlife resources in that area 

A fire plan will be developed which identifies strategic firebreaks and prescriptions under which 
natural fires would be allowed to burn to recreate natural vegetative patterns. 

Interpretive media will be used to describe natural conditions and fire freauencies for this forest type. 
In some key recreational areas (eg. sensitive view points), manipulate will be "buffered" by green 
vegetation. 

5) In order to insure that objectives for big game do not negatively affect other wildlife species, specifically 
security area management, recommendations for security areas will consider other species needs. In 
general, the mitigation measures applied for vegetation will help insure overall diversity is sustained while 
still maintaining adequate hunting season security. 

6) The restoration and management of riparian areas has the potential to result in the reduction of livestock 
numbers. To the extent possible, this economic impact will be mitigated through the use of measures that 
improve livestock distribution. These include: riding and moving livestock throughout the grazing season; 
water developments away from valley bottoms; riparian pasture systems; physical barriers (either natural 
or fences) and/or exclosures. The prescriptions will be keyed to the discrepancy between desired and 
existing conditions. 

E. Painting the Desired Condition Picture 

In an effort to integrate in narrative form, the picture of the Elkhorn landscape over time as the desired 
conditions are implemented, a description of the conditions in each Ecological Landscape Unit are 
presented. It is important to remember while reading these descriptions, that while a picture is a "snapshot" 
in time, ecosystems are dynamic and constantly changing in both time and space. 

This section is written in present tense, as though the condition existed on the ground, so that the reader 
may "see" what the desired condition looks like. In reality, many resources are presently far different from 
the goals which follow the desired condition "picture". 



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Ecological Landscape Unit 1 
Overview 

This unit includes the northwestern portion of the Elkhorn range, and covers about 30,302 acres. Forest 
Plan management area E-4 makes up most of this unit, with a small portion included in management area 
E-3. The bedrock geology of the area is primarily granitic, with some basaltic and metasedimentary rock 
units. The characteristic landforms are rolling uplands and mountain slopes. The elevation ranges from 
4400 feet to 7400 feet. The vegetation is dominated by timber, ponderosa pine in the northwest portion, 
and Douglas fir and lodgepole pine to the east and south. There are some open grasslands, and some 
shrublands. Quaking aspen is common throughout the area. There are several large streams in this unit. 
The area away from the streams is quite dry, with few seeps or springs. Slopes in this unit generally range 
from 1 to 40%, with limited areas of 50% to 90% slope. Rocky areas, or scree, occupy 1 6 % of the land 
base. Elk, deer and moose use the area all seasons of the year. Upland game birds and songbirds live 
near the wet areas. Much of the area is accessed by roads which are open year round. Many people 
recreate here. Activities include driving for pleasure, bird watching, hiking and horse-riding, cross-country 
skiing, and hunting. 

Description 

This northwest portion of this area is dominated by savannahs-large, old ponderosa pine and Douglas 
fir trees with large spaces between them. Abundant plant species grow between the trees. Aspen, 
dogwood, snowberry and bunchgrasses cover the forest floor. The aspen ages range from young 
seedlings in some areas.to old, mature trees with several layers of younger trees coming in under them. 
In many aspen stands, there are several ages of aspen present. The east and south portions of this area 
are dominated by lodgepole pine and Douglas fir. The timber canopy is thick and little light reaches the 
forest floor. Grouse whortleberry, blue huckleberry, spirea, and buffaloberry are common in the understory. 
Pinegrass and elk sedge are the dominant grasses. Many broad-leaved herbs such as arnica bedstraw, 
and western meadowrue are found as well. 

There are some grasslands interspersed with the savannahs. Bitterbrush plants are scattered throughout 
the grasslands. These plants are healthy and reproducing, with plant ages from seedlings less than one 
year old, to mature plants which are 1 5 years old, or more. The grasslands are dominated by rough fescue, 
Idaho fescue and bluebunch wheatgrass. In the springtime, the grasslands are dotted with colorful flowers, 
such as lupine, balsamroot, pointloco, daisies, and pasque flower. The soil between the grasses is 
protected by plant material which was left from the previous year. 

In the savannahs, there are not many young trees except where small groves provide screening along the 
roads. Most of the smaller trees have been cut down or burned to maintain the open savannahs. There 
are many different plant species in the areas which have burned. Shrubs, such as spirea, chokecherry and 
upland willows are resprouting from the roots. Grasses and broadleaved herbs like pinegrass, rough 
fescue, bluebunch wheatgrass, heartleaf arnica and fireweed are plentiful. The vegetation is vigorous and 
healthy following the burns. The tree canopy is one layer, made up primarily of large, old trees. There is 
a low level of pine beetle and budworm activity in the trees. There are snags, standing dead trees, scattered 
throughout the area These trees remain for many years and provide places where nesting cavities can 
be excavated and used by many bird species, such as northern flickers, hairy woodpeckers, flammulated 
owls, mountain bluebirds and kestrels. 

In the lodgepole pine areas, the trees are young (most of the area burned in 1 988). A second fire has killed 
some of the young trees. The remaining trees are healthy and productive. The understory plants are 
abundant and vigorous. 

In areas which have not burned for many years, the conifer trees are made up of severaJ age classes, 
particularly in areas dominated by Douglas fir and subalpine fir. There are large areas of continuous trees. 

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Where the trees are dense, there are few understory plant species. The density of the trees includes several 
ages that create layers of tree heights. In localized areas near streams or other water, large old spruce and 
subalpme fir trees are found. Some of the young, thick trees growing under the large trees have been cut 
down and burned around these important trees to try to protect the large trees from fire. However, these 
areas eventually burn, but not as often as the surrounding trees. These old trees provide important shelter 
and nesting areas for wildlife species like pine marten and goshawks. 

There are large areas of burned timber where the majority of trees have been killed by fire. Fires burn large 
parts of this unit every 1 50 to 300 years. When a fire burns here it kills the majority of the trees where the 
trees are close together or there are a lot of small trees growing under the larger trees. Soils are exposed 
in the freshly burned areas for 3 to 4 years following the fire. These burned areas have a thick carpet of 
lodgepole pine seedlings and many grass, shrub and broadleaved herb species anywhere from one to four 
years following the burn. Aspen seedlings and sprouts are numerous in many of the burned areas. Some 
common shrubs are spirea, snowberry, chokecherry, elderberry, and upland willow. Common broadleaved 
herbs are heartleaf arnica, fireweed, horseweed, bedstraw, and aster. Grasses like pinegrass and elk 
sedge quickly reoccupy burned areas where they grew before the fire. 

Other areas burned 30 to 40 years earlier. These old burns also affected large, continuous acreages. There 
have been several small, low intensity fires in these areas since the major burn. Lodgepole pine trees 
dominate these older burns, with seedlings of Douglas fir and/or subalpine fir coming in under the 
lodgepole where fire has returned since the major burn. It is important that small, low intensity fires burn 
in these areas to thin out the many lodgepole pine seedlings which germinate following a burn. These trees 
are thinned out by a low intensity fire, which allows individual trees to grow bigger and not be stunted by 
having too many trees competing for water and nutrients in a small area. Trees like Douglas fir and 
subalpine fir can sometimes survive the low intensity fires, which allows more than one tree species to grow 
and reproduce. 

There are upland willows, dogwood, aspen and elderberry here. Elk sedge, pinegrass, mountain brome, 
rough fescue and Idaho fescue are the dominant grass species. All but the elk sedge and pinegrass are 
eliminated when the tree canopy shades out direct light. 

Many wildlife species use the savannahs and grasslands. Large animals such as elk and deer are common, 
and use the area during ail seasons of the year since there is abundant forage here. Large bull elk and 
buck deer use this area extensively. In the springtime, elk calves are hidden in the brushy areas. Coyotes 
and bear roam the uplands in search of food. Small mammals such as deer mice and shrews are 
numerous. Birds of prey circle high above, searching for small movements in the open areas. The thicker 
lodgepole pine areas provide security and protection for hunted wildlife species. 

Numerous birds live in areas which have recently burned. Black-backed and other woodpeckers create 
cavities in the dead trees, which they and other birds like mountain bluebirds use for nesting. These dead 
trees provide abundant insects for birds. 

Many wildlife species use both the burned and unburned areas for foraging and security. Large animals 
such as elk and deer are common. Large bull elk and buck deer use this ELU extensively, particularly for 
security during the big game hunting season. In the springtime, elk calves are hidden in protected areas 
where there is both cover and nutritious forage. This unit provides important summer habitat for these big 
game animals. Mountain goats are found in the high, rocky areas of this unit year-round. Small mammals 
such as deer mice, shrews and red-backed voles are numerous in the meadows. Pine marten use the older, 
unburned trees for denning and resting. Bird species such as the ruby crowned kinglet, pine siskin, red 
breasted nuthatch and brown creeper inhabit the unburned lodgepole pine areas. 

Streamsides and areas where the water table is high, riparian areas, have aspen, cottonwood and 
Douglas fir in the overstory and diverse understories of shrubs, grasses, and forbs. Vegetation covers the 
banks, and hangs over the water. Streams are generally narrow and deep. The water is clear except in the 

122 



spring, and rocks and smaller pebbles are visible on the botton of the stream. Trout and other aquatic 
species are hidden under the overhanging vegetation. Beaver are found along some low gradient stream 
sections. In those areas, beavers have built dams of woody material that has backed up water and created 
large pools. This results in a higher water table and hence more water-loving plants like willows and alder 
are able to grow and reproduce. Many aquatic species such as fish, frogs, insects, and microscopic 
creatures inhabit these ponds. There is a feeling of abundant life near these areas because they provide 
not only water, but also abundant forage. In addition, these areas are favorable because the temperature 
is cooler than the surrounding areas, and animals can hide in the dense vegetation. Black bear and moose 
can be found along the streams and wet areas. Birds, such as the hermit thrush, golden crowned kinglet 
and Townsend solitaire are numerous. Ruffed grouse live in small aspen groves and along shrubby 
streambanks. 

Noxious weeds are confined to small areas around roadsides. Insects that control these weeds can be 
found on most of the plants. 

This northwest portion of this area has an extensive road system, whereas the east and south portions have 
few roads. The main roads can accommodate large vehicles; the side roads are usable by most 2 wheel 
drive vehicles. Some of the roads are closed during the big game hunting season to improve big game 
security. Security areas are fairly large blocks of timbered cover (250 acres or greater where possible) that 
are removed from vehicular access by at least 1/2 mile. Some of the "open" roads are lined with trees to 
provide screening between the road and adjacent habitat. 

In a few places along main roads, pullouts have interpretive signs which describe the surrounding 
landscape and provide information on cultural, geologic and other natural history features. 

The Strawberry Butte lookout is in this area. The tower provides a panoramic view of the west side of the 
mountain range, and adjacent valleys. 

Dispersed campsites, including several with toliets, are located adjacent to the road. Trailheads located 
in this area have information signs and stock facilities. Trails proceeding into the interior of the Elkhorns 
are well marked with baizes and rock cairns (mounds of stones). All trails are maintained and contain 
erosion control structures where necessary. Although most trails are used primarily by hikers and horse- 
men, mountain bikes and off-highway vehicle users may be present. In ELU 1 , there is very little evidence 
of man adjacent to the trail system. 

This area provides diverse, year-round recreational opportunities for the population of Helena and other 
nearby communities. The sights and sounds of humans are common in this area. In the summer and fall, 
recreational driving, hiking, horseback riding and hunting are popular. Visitors can climb the fire lookout 
tower on Strawberry Butte for a view of the surrounding area Cross-country skiing occurs in the winter on 
marked, ungroomed trails and roads which aren't used by two or four wheel drive vehicles. Some 
snowmobiling occurs also. 

Mining is ongoing. Old mine sites have been reclaimed, or are in the process of being stabilized. New 
operations disturb as little ground as possible. Mining is coordinated to minimize disturbance to wildlife, 
vegetation, and water sources. All recently disturbed mining sites have been reclaimed; new roads are put 
back to contour and reseeded when they are no longer needed. 

Livestock grazing generally occurs between June and October each year. There are fences and water 
developments to control livestock movements. The streamside areas that livestock use are healthy and 
have several age classes of shrubs present. The streambanks are covered with vegetation, and soil 
trampling is minimized. The vegetation is dominated by native species. There is enough grass left on the 
site each year to protect the soil, provide for nutrient recycling, and to provide forage for wintering wildlife. 



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Ecological Landscape Unit 2 

Overview 

This unit includes the divide, or "backbone" of the Elkhorn range and covers about 47,700 acres. Forest 
Plan management area E-2 makes up most of this unit, with a small portion included in management area 
E-3. The geologic makeup of the area is granitic and basaltic material. The characteristic landforms are 
rolling uplands, mountain ridges and cirque basins. The elevation ranges from 5300 feet to 8600 feet. The 
vegetation is almost completely dominated by trees-lodgepole pine, Douglas fir and subalpine fir. There 
is a substantial amount of whitebark pine and spruce here also. Small grasslands or mountain meadows 
occasionally break up the solid timber canopy. There are many large and small streams in this unit. The 
upland areas away from the streams can be very wet and have many seeps and springs. Slopes in this 
unit are variable, and range from 1 to 90%. Rocky areas, or scree occupy a large portion of the land base, 
about 40%. Elk, deer and moose use the area mainly during the spring, summer and fall. Mountain goats 
use the area year round. Upland game birds and many songbirds live near the wet areas. Most of the area 
is accessed by a non-motorized use trail system in the E-2 portion. The E-3 portion has a motorized vehicle 
access road which makes a loop in the Tizer basin and Tizer lakes area. Wheeled vehicles are not allowed 
off the designated road system (snowmobile use is allowed off the roads after November 30). While 
numerous people recreate here, this area offers more solitude than the rest of the mountain range, 
particularly in the E-2 portion. Activities include hiking, mountain bike riding, horseback riding, hunting and 
cross-country skiing in the non-motorized use area. The motorized use area offers these same activities, 
plus snowmobiling and off-highway vehicle driving on designated roads. 

Description 

This area is dominated by rocky outcrops as well as thick Douglas fir, subalpine fir and lodgepole pine 
trees. There is some whitebark pine and spruce also. The canopy of the trees is dense and the common 
understory plants don't require much direct sunlight to grow. Grouse whortleberry, blue huckleberry, 
spirea and buffaloberry are common shrub species under the trees. Pinegrass and elk sedge are the 
dominant grass species. Many broadleaved herbs can be found, particularly in the early summer months. 
These include heartleaf arnica, violets, bedstraw and western meadowrue. 

Both small and moderate expanses of open meadow and grasslands occur in this area. In contrast to the 
forested areas, the meadows are moist and productive, and have many plant species. Rough fescue, 
mountain brome and sedges are the dominant grass species. Many wildflowers such as sticky geranium, 
larkspur, lupine and shooting stars grace these meadows. There is little bare soil between the grasses and 
herbs. The small amount that exists is protected by plant material from the previous year. 

In areas which have not burned for many years, the conifer trees are made up of several age classes, 
particularly in areas dominated by Douglas fir and subalpine fir. There are large areas of continuous trees. 
Where the trees are dense, there are few understory plant species. The density of the trees includes several 
ages that create layers of tree heights. In localized areas near streams or other water, large old spruce and 
subalpine fir trees are found. Within some of these stands, underburning of some of the young, thick 
understory trees has taken place in an effort to try to protect the large trees from fire. However, these areas 
eventually burn, but not as often as the surrounding trees. These old trees provide important shelter and 
nesting areas for wildlife species like pine marten and goshawks. 

There are large areas of burned timber where the majority of trees have been killed by fire. Fires burn large 
parts of this unit every 150 to 300 years. When a fire burns here it kills the majority of the trees where the 
trees are close together or there are a lot of small trees growing under the larger trees. Soils are exposed 
in the freshly burned areas for 3 to 4 years following the fire. These burned areas have a thick carpet of 
lodgepole pine seedlings and many grass, shrub and broadleaved herb species anywhere from one to four 
years following the burn. Aspen seedlings and sprouts are numerous in many of the burned areas. Some 
common shrubs are spirea, snowberry, chokecherry, elderberry, ana upland willow. Common broaaieaved 

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herbs are heartleaf arnica, fireweed, horseweed, bedstraw, and aster. Grasses like pinegrass and elk 
sedge quickly reoccupy burned areas where they grew before the fire. 

Other areas burned 30 to 40 years earlier. These old burns also affected large, continuous acreages. There 
have been several small, low intensity fires in these areas since the major burn. Lodgepole pine trees 
dominate these older burns, with seedlings of Douglas fir and/or subalpine fir coming in under the 
lodgepole where fire has returned since the major burn. It is important that small, low intensity fires burn 
in these areas to thin out the many lodgepole pine seedlings which germinate following a burn. Thinning 
by low intensity fire keeps the stand from becoming "stunted" through competition for water and nutrients. 
Trees like Douglas fir and subalpine fir can sometimes survive the low intensity fires, which allows more 
than one tree species to grow and reproduce. 

There are upland willows, dogwood, aspen and elderberry here. Elk sedge, pinegrass, mountain brome, 
rough fescue and Idaho fescue are the dominant grass species. All but the elk sedge and pinegrass are 
eliminated when the tree canopy shades out direct light. 

The E-2 portion of this area is secluded, and has little disturbance by man. This makes it very attractive 
not only to big game animals but also to furbearing animals such as bobcat, wolverine and lynx. Some of 
these animals require large expanses of undisturbed habitat, and are generally not found in any other 
portion of the Elkhorns. 

Lush vegetation is found in cirque basin meadows and near stream headwaters. Along many of the 
streams, spruce and subalpine fir thrive in cool, shady canyons. Underneath the tree canopy, a variety of 
shrubs and forbs/grasses are found. Along streams with less shade, alder and willow thickets are found. 
Within these thickets, alder and willow plants of many sizes and ages exist. Vegetation covers the 
streambanks, and hangs over the water. Trout and other aquatic species are hidden under the overhang- 
ing vegetation. The streams here are generally steep and rocky. Except during spring run-off, the water 
is clear and rocks and smaller pebbles are visible on the bottom of the stream. Native cutthroat trout can 
be found in some of the streams. Portions of some streams have gentler gradients. In those areas, beavers 
have built dams of woody material that has backed up water and created large pools. This results in a 
higher water table and hence more water-loving plants like willows and alder are able to grow and 
reproduce. Many aquatic species such as fish, frogs, insects, and microscopic creatures inhabit these 
ponds. There is a feeling of abundant life near these areas because they provide not onfy water, but also 
abundant forage. In addition, these areas are favorable because the temperature is cooler than the 
surrounding areas, and animals can hide in the dense vegetation. Black bear and moose are commonly 
found in these areas. Birds, such as pine siskin, warbing vireos and yellow-rumped warblers are numerous. 
Ruffed and spruce grouse are found in and adjacent to the wet areas; the latter at higher elevations. 

There are several high mountain lakes in this ELU. The water in these lakes is crystal clear and very cold. 
The vegetation around the lakes protects the soil from erosion. Some of the lakes have rocky shores with 
little vegetation. Brook trout are found in some, while cutthroat trout occupy others. The cutthroat trout are 
stocked periodically to provide recreational fishing. The brook trout reproduce naturally. 

Scree, or rock outcrop, comprises a significant portion of this landscape. Some of it has trees growing 
among the rocks, while some is barren of large plant life. Small lichen plants cling to the rocks. Wildlife 
species such as mountain goats, pika, marmots and rock wrens are associated with rocky habitats. 

Noxious weeds are confined to very small areas around trails and trailheads. Insects that control these 
weeds can be found on most of the plants. 

Within the majority of this area, E-2, only nonmotorized use is allowed. There is an extensive trail system, 
which is used by hikers, mountain bikes and horsemen. There are dispersed camping sites, with no 
facilities, scattered through the area. The supporting trailheads (located in other management areas) have 
informative signs and some have horse loading ramps. The trails are marked with natural blazes and cairns, 

125 



and are well-maintained. This unit provides some of the most spectacular scenery in the Elkhorns where 
Crow and Elkhorn peaks are the backdrop and in most places little evidence of man can be seen or heard. 

Although there are no interpretive signs within E-2, maps and brochures describe the surrounding land- 
scape and provide information on recreational opportunities, as well as the cultural and natural history of 
this area. 

Numerous people use this area for hiking, camping, horseback riding, mountain bike riding and hunting 
in the summer and fall months. Many times they experience solitude, and may not meet another person 
during their entire visit. During the winter, intermediate and advanced skiers find challenging terrain for 
cross-country travel. 

Within the E-3 portion of this area, motorized use is allowed on designated roads. The road system here 
is not extensive, but does provide opportunities for off-highway vehicles. The road also provides a loope 
drive around Bullock Hill and access to several non-motorized use trailheads and destinations. 

Within the motorized areas, there are interpretive signs to describe the surrounding landscape and history 
of the area. An old mining townsite, Ruddville, was located in the Tizer Basin in the late 1800's. The Tizer 
Guard Station is located here, and is available for rent by the public in the winter season. In other seasons, 
the cabin is used by a backcountry ranger and other employees of the Forest Service and Fish, Wildlife, 
and Parks to administer the area and clear trails. Tizer lake is the only lake which is accessible by vehicle. 
The road is suitable only for four-wheel drive vehicles. Snowmobiling and cross-country skiing occur during 
the winter season. 

Many people use the E-3 portion of the area. There is less solitude here than in the E-2 area, but during 
the week-day a visitor may not meet another person during their entire visit. 

Mining activities occur periodically in the E-3 portion of the area. Old mine sites have been reclaimed, or 
are in the process of being stabilized. New operations disturb as little ground as possible. Mining is 
coordinated with other resources to minimize disturbances. All recent sites have been reclaimed; new 
roads are put back to contourand reseeded. Little mining occurs in the E-2 portion of the area 

Livestock grazing occurs in portions of both the E-2 and E-3 areas generally between June and October 
each year. The areas which are grazed are the open grasslands and meadows, although livestock also 
use the timbered areas which are close to the grasslands. There are some fences and water developments 
to control livestock movements. There is less evidence of livestock use in this unit, relative to the rest of 
the Elkhorns. Some areas are closed to livestock use. The streamside areas in active livestock allotments 
look healthy and have several age classes of shrubs present. The streambanks are covered with vegeta- 
tion, and soil trampling is minimized. The vegetation is dominated by native species. There is enough grass 
left on the site each year to protect the soil, provide nutrient recycling, and provide forage for wildlife. 

Ecological Landscape Unit 3 

Overview 

This unit borders ELU 2 on the north and east sides of the Elkhorn range and covers approximately 32,000 
acres. Forest Plan management area E-1 makes up most of this unit, but a small portion of management 
area E-2 is included. This ELU represents the transition zone between the thick timber and rocky slopes 
of the divide of the Elkhorns and the lower open grasslands to the east. The hardrock geology includes 
limestone, basaltic and metasedimentary materials. The characteristic landforms are mountain slopes and 
ridges. Elevations range from 4600 to 7500 feet. About 30% of the area consists of grasslands and 
shrublands. At higher elevations, the dominant vegetation includes Douglas fir along with Rocky Mountain 
juniper, limber pine and some lodgepole pine. Although there are several streams in this unit, it is generally 

126 



characterized as dry. Seeps and springs are concentrated in the higher elevations. Slopes in this unit range 
from 1 0% to 60%, with limited areas of 70% to 90% slope. Rocky areas, or scree, occupy about 3% of the 
land base. Elk, deer and moose use the area all seasons of the year. Upland game birds and many 
songbirds live near the wet areas. Much of the area is accessed by roads which are open to motorized 
use outside of the big game winter season (12/1-5/15). Many people recreate here. Activities include 
driving for pleasure, fishing, camping, wildlife viewing, mountain bike riding, off-road vehicle use, and 
hunting. Many of the supporting trailheads for trails which access the E-2 management area are found 
here. Eagle Guard Station is the center of human activity in this unit. It serves as a visitor and interpretive 
facility in the summer and fall months, and can be rented and accessed in the winter months by non- 
motorized means. Other attractions include Crow Creek and Little Tizer Waterfalls and South Fork Crow 
Creek Lakes. 

Description 

This area is dominated by Douglas fir, with a limited amount of limber pine, juniper and lodgepole pine. 
The majority of the Douglas fir occurs as a moderately open grown stand. There are not huge spaces 
between the trees, but the tree tops are not so thick as to prevent sunlight from reaching the forest floor. 
This allows many plant species to grow between the trees. Aspen, dogwood, snowberry, chokecherry and 
serviceberry are the dominant woody plants in the understory. The aspen includes young seedlings as well 
as old, mature trees with several layers of younger trees coming in under them in other areas. This creates 
several canopy layers in the aspen stands. Dominant grasses under the trees include pinegrass, elk sedge, 
rough fescue, Idaho fescue and bluebunch wheatgrass. Broad-leaved herbs such as heartleaf arnica, aster 
and senecio grow here also. 

About one third of the area is covered with grasslands, interspersed among the patches of trees. These 
vegetation mosaics include a variety of shrub patches. Bitterbrush plants are scattered through some of 
the grasslands. These plants are healthy and reproducing with some seedlings less than one year old to 
mature plants which are 1 5 years old, or more. Big sagebrush occurs in this area in patches of various sizes 
that include young and old plants. Several subspecies of big sagebrush occur here. The dominant grasses 
are rough fescue, Idaho fescue and bluebunch wheatgrass. In the springtime, the grasslands are dotted 
with colorful flowers, such as lupine, pointloco, daisies, and pasque flower. The soil between the grasses 
is protected by plant material which was left from the previous year. 

In the forested areas, the tree canopy has only one layer, made up primarily of relatively large old trees. 
There is a low level of pine beetle and budworm activity in the trees. Some large trees are killed by fire or 
disease, and remain standing for years. These snags are scattered throughout the area and provide 
important habitat for many bird species, such as northern flickers, hairy woodpeckers, flammulated owls, 
mountain bluebirds and kestrels. In the winter the area is inhabited by birds such as chickadees and 
Townsend's solitaire. 

There are not many young trees except along some of the roads. These young trees screen the roads and 
help provide cover for big game animals. Most of the smaller trees have been cut down or burned to 
maintain the open grasslands, or decrease the chance that a fire would kill the larger older trees. 

There is evidence of recent burning in this area. A diversity of plants occupy the burned sites; due to the 
flush of nutrients created by the fire, the vegetation is vigorous and healthy and generally, bare soil 
exposed after the fire is revegetated within one or two years. The bunchgrasses and shrubs which grow 
here quickly resprout or are not damaged by the fire so they provide ground cover the next growing 
season. 

Many wildlife species use the Douglas fir zone and grasslands. Large animals such as elk and deer are 
common. Bull elk and buck deer use the the more remote portions of this unit to escape from hunters. In 
the springtime, elk calves and deer fawns are hidden in secluded areas where cover and forage are close 
together. Coyotes roam the uplands in search of food. Small mammals such as deer mice, chipmunks, and 

127 



squirrels are common. This area includes favorable habitat for birds of prey such as red-tailed hawks and 
golden eagles, which are often seen in the summer months circling the skies and searching for small 
movements in the open areas. 

Streamsides and wet areas, riparian areas, are very diverse throughout this unit. In the east portion, there 
are areas with Cottonwood, wiHow, and aspen along streams. At higher elevations, some streams are 
dominated by mountain maple stands or alder thickets. There is spruce and subalpine fir along Hall Creek 
along with alder, mountain ash, maple, willow, and dogwood. Sedge meadows occur near seeps and 
springs. Shrub and grassy vegetation covers the banks, and hangs over the water. The streams are 
generally narrow. Except during spring run-off, water is clear and rocks and smaller pebbles are visible on 
the bottom of the streams. Trout and other aquatic species are hidden under the overhanging vegetation. 
Beaver are a very important part of the lower gradient areas along some streams. In those areas, beavers 
have built dams of woody material that has backed up water and created large pools. This results in a 
higher water table and hence more water-loving plants like willows and alder are able to grow and 
reproduce. Many aquatic species such as fish, frogs, insects, and microscopic creatures inhabit these 
ponds. There is a feeling of abundant life near these areas because they provide not only water, but also 
abundant forage. In addition, these areas are favorable because the temperature is cooler than the 
surrounding areas, and animals can hide in the dense vegetation. A limited number of moose and black 
bear use this area. Birds, such as the hermit thrush, golden crowned kinglet and Townsend solitaire are 
numerous. Upland game birds such as blue grouse and ruffed grouse live close to the wet areas, in shrubs 
and small aspen groves. 

Noxious weeds are confined to small areas around roadsides. Insects that control these weeds can be 
found on most of the plants. 

ELU 3 provides a transition zone for both vegetation and travel management. The vegetation grades from 
the heavy timber canopy representative of ELU 2 to the grasslands representative of ELU 4. This zone is 
important for the wildlife species as a transition area between seasons. This area provides a mix of both 
cover and forage for big game and is important especially during the fall and spring seasons. 

The majority of this ELU is in the Forest Plan E-1 management area. There is an extensive road system 
which is open for motorized use during the non-winter period. The main roads can accomodate large 
vehicles; the side roads are usable mostly by 4 wheel drive vehicles. Some of the roads are closed during 
the big game hunting season to improve big game security. Security areas are fairly large blocks of 
timbered cover (250 acres or greater where possible) that are removed from vehicular access by at least 
1/2 mile. Some of the "open" roads are lined with trees that provides screening between the road and the 
adjacent habitat. 

An interpretive driving loop passes through a portion of this area Along this loop, which connects the 
Indian and main Crow Creek Roads, interpretive signs explain some of the natural and cultural features 
of the area. The loop is accessible by 2 wheel drive vehicles during the summer months. 

Eagle Creek guard station is a featured attraction in this area. The cabin, which is the oldest structure on 
the Helena National Forest, has been fully restored to make it both functional and to mimic its original 
construction. Both the cabin and the area around the cabin have visitor attractions such as an interpretive 
trail, interpretive displays and signs, trailhead and bathroom facilities, and a host during the summer 
months. Accessible only by non-motorized means, part of the 3-room cabin is available for rent by the 
public during the winter months. Rental use is kept to a level that is not disruptive to the big game animals 
using the area around the station as winter range. Situated in a broad basin overlooking an expanse of 
trees interspersed with grasslands, the cabin site also provides a reliable setting for viewing deer and elk. 

There are several dispersed camping sites off the road system, some of which are protected by gravel and 
have outhouse facilities Several main trailheads are located here. These sites have ample parking, informa- 
tive signs, and some have horse loading ramps. The trails leading off from this area are well marked with 

128 



tree blazes and/or rock cairns (mounds of stones). The trails are clear of large rocks, trees or other 
obstructions. Water bars protect the trails from excessive erosion. Some of the trails accommodate for 
mountain bikes and/or motorized off-road vehicles, and some allow only for horse and foot traffic. Along 
the trails, the scenery is varied and offers many vistas. 

Many people, including both locals and tourists, come to this area to recreate and view wildlife. Recreation- 
al pursuits include four-wheel driving, off-highway vehicle use, two wheel driving on the main roads, fishing, 
hiking, camping, hunting, bicycling. Winter recreation is restricted by both access and a lack of snow in 
most years. 

Additional recreation attractions in this area include Crow Creek Falls and fishing in the South Fork Crow 
Creek Lakes. Both are accessed by non-motorized use trails. 

Mining activities occur in this unit. Old mine sites have been reclaimed, or are in process of being stabilized. 
New operations disturb as little ground as possible. Mining is coordinated to minimize disturbance to 
wildlife, vegetation, and water sources. All recently disturbed mining sites have been reclaimed; new roads 
are put back to contour and reseeded when they are no longer needed. 

Livestock graze this area generally between June and October each year. There are fences and water 
developments to control livestock movements. The streamside areas that are included in the allotments 
look healthy and have several age classes of shrubs. The streambanks are covered with vegetation, and 
soil disturbance is minimized. The vegetation is dominated by native species. There is enough grass left 
on the site each year to protect the soil, provide nutrient recycling, and provide forage for wildlife. 



Ecological Landscape Unit 4 

Overview 

This unit includes the southeastern portion of the Elkhorn range and covers about 31 ,000 acres of National 
Forest land, and 30,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. The geologic makeup of the 
area is metasedimentary, sedimentary (including limestone), and basaltic material. The characteristic 
landforms are rolling uplands, mountain slopes and ridges. Forest Plan management area E-1 makes up 
the National Forest portion of the unit. The BLM Resource Management Plan sets management direction 
for the BLM portion of the unit. Elevations range from 4800 to 7500 feet. The vegetation is dominated by 
grasslands and shrublands. Big sagebrush, black sagebrush and bitterbrush are the dominant shrubs. 
This unit is the only one in which mountain mahogany occurs. About 1 0% of the area is dominated by trees, 
primarily Douglas fir, limber pine and Rocky Mountain juniper. There are several large streams in this unit. 
The uplands are quite dry; however, many isolated seeps or springs are found in this unit. Slopes in this 
unit are generally from 1 0% to 40%, with limited breaklands of 60% to 90% slope. Rocky areas, or talus, 
occupy a small portion of the land base. Elk and mule deer can be seen here in all seasons, but the area 
generally functions as winter range. Antelope are commonly seen at the lower elevations generally on BLM 
and private lands. The streamside zones have the most plant and animal diversity. They provide important 
habitat for many small mammals and many songbirds. There are many roads of all kinds which are open 
during the non-winter season for motorized uses. Recreation use occurs from spring to fall and includes 
driving for pleasure, camping, fishing, hunting, and off-road vehicle uses. An interpretive driving loop which 
connects Indian and the main Crow Creek Roads passes through this unit. A winter interpretive site is 
located on the main Crow Creek Road. 

Description 

This area is dominated by expansive grasslands, with a lesser amounts of scattered forest including 
Douglas fir, limber pine and Rocky Mountain juniper. Bitterbrush plants are scattered through some of the 
grasslands. These plants are healthy and reproducing and include seedlings to mature plants which are 
1 5 years old or older. Sagebrush patches are common in this unit. These patches are found in mosaic 

129 



patterns of various sizes and include a diversity of age classes. Some evidence of recent burning can be 
seen some of the area. Black sagebrush is found in this area. The areas where black sagebrush occur 
rarely burn. The black sagebrush plants are healthy, not overbrowsed, and several age classes are 
represented, from seedlings to mature plants. Mountain mahogany is found in this area also. There are 
several age classes of this species present at any site, and the plants are healthy and not overbrowsed. 

The dominant grasses are rough fescue, Idaho fescue and bluebunch wheatgrass. In the springtime, the 
grasslands are dotted with colorful flowers, such as lupine, pointloco, daisies, and pasque flower. The soil 
between the grasses is protected by plant material which was left from the previous year. Fires burn 
through the grasslands an average of every 5 to 25 years. The fires produce a flush of nitorgen and other 
nutrients which can be incorporated into the soil and used by plants. 

The majority of the timbered areas are savannahs-large, old Douglas fir trees with a lot of space between 
them. The tree canopies do not touch, which allows a large amount of sunlight to reach the forest floor. 
This in turn allows many plant species to grow between the trees. Aspen, dogwood, snowberry, chokecher- 
ry and serviceberry are the dominant woody understory plants. Aspen are found near seeps and springs 
and along streams. The aspen range from young seedlings in some areas, to older mature trees with 
several layers of younger trees growing under them. This creates several canopy layers in the aspen. 
Dominant grasses include pinegrass, elk sedge, rough fescue, Idaho fescue and bluebunch wheatgrass. 

There are not many young trees except where small groves provide screening along the roads. Most of 
the smaller trees have been cut down or burned to maintain the open savannahs. There are many different 
plant species in the areas which have burned. Quaking aspen and shrubs, such as chokecherry, service- 
berry, spirea and upland willow resprout from the roots. Grasses, such as rough and Idaho fescue and 
bluebunch wheatgrass, and broadleaved herbs like heartleaf arnica, fireweed and lupine are plentiful. The 
vegetation is vigorous and healthy. Generally, there is not a large amount of bare soil since the bunchgrass- 
es and shrubs which grow here quickly resprout or reproduce by seed, or are not damaged by fire so they 
provide ground cover the next growing season. 

The tree canopy is generally one layer, composed of large, old trees. However, a few young trees exist and 
will eventually replace individual old trees that die. There is a low level of pine beetle and budworm activity 
in the trees. Some large trees are killed by fire, insects or disease, and remain standing for years. These 
snags are scattered throughout the area and provide places where nesting cavities can be excavated and 
used by many bird species, such as northern flickers, hairy woodpeckers, mountain bluebirds and kestrels. 

Many wildlife species use the grasslands, shrublands, and small groves of trees. There is abundant forage 
here year round, and parts of the area are free of snow in the winter months to allow relatively easy foraging. 
Large animals such as elk and mule deer are common, particularly in the late fall, winter and early spring. 
Antelope live in the lower portion of this area year-round. Coyotes roam the uplands in search of food. Small 
mammals including ground squirrels, mice and voles are numerous. There are a few small prairie dog 
towns at lower elevations. The area of the town has a large amount of disturbed soil. This produces 
broad-leaved herbs which are high in nutrition. Large game animals and livestock forage here, and other 
relatively rare species such as mountain plovers and ferruginous hawks also occupy this habitat in limited 
numbers. Birds of prey include the prairie falcon, kestrel, red-tailed hawk, and golden eagle in the uplands, 
and the fish-eaters like bald eagles and osprey along the Missouri River. Crow Creek provides an important 
spawning ground for trout from the Missouri River. Predators such as bobcats and mountain lions occupy 
this area also. Birds, including horned larks, meadowlarks, vespers sparrows, and Brewers sparrows are 
associated with the shrublands and grasslands. 

Streamsides and areas where the water table is high, riparian areas, have Douglas fir, cottonwood. aspen, 
and willow are found as overstory vegetation with shrubs (eg. dogwood), grasses and sedges growing 
underneath them. Aspen and juniper are found along the stream banks and adjacent slopes near some 
streams. There is a healthy willow and alder community in Eagle Basin. Vegetation covers the banks, and 
hangs over the water. Streams are generally narrow and shallow. Except during the spring, the water is 

130 



clear, and rocks and smaller pebbles are visible on the bottom of the stream. Trout and other aquatic 
species are hidden under the overhanging vegetation. Beaver occupy some portions of the streams. In 
those areas, beavers have built dams of woody material that has backed up water and created large pools. 
This results in a higher water table and hence more water-loving plants like willows and alder are able to 
grow and reproduce. Many aquatic species such as fish, frogs, insects, and microscopic creatures inhabit 
these ponds. There is a feeling of abundant life near these areas because they provide not only water, but 
also abundant forage. In addition, these areas are favorable because the temperature is cooler than the 
surrounding areas, and animals can hide in the dense vegetation. Occasionally, black bear and moose 
can be found along the streams and wet areas. These riparian areas provide for numerous species of birds, 
including ruffed grouse. 

Noxious weeds are confined to small areas around roadsides and trailheads. Insects that control these 
weeds can be found on most of the plants. 

This ELU is in the Forest Plan E-1 management area. There is an extensive road system which is open to 
motorized users from May 16th through November 30, and closed to all but non-motorized uses during 
the winter period. The main roads can accommodate large vehicles; the side roads are usable mostly by 
4 wheel drive vehicles. Some of the roads are closed during the big game hunting season to improve big 
game security. Security areas are fairly large blocks of timbered cover (250 acres or greater where 
possible) that are removed from vehicular access by at least 1/2 mile. Some of the 'open" roads are lined 
with trees that provides screening between the road and the adjacent habitat. 

In addition to the interpretive driving loop, a few other pullouts have interpretive signs which describe the 
surrounding landscape and provide information on the cultural, unique geologic and other natural history 
features. 

There are dispersed camping sites next to the roads. Many of these have site protection measures such 
as gravel and outhouse facilities. One trailhead is located in this unit. It has information signs and the Crow 
Creek trail is well marked and maintained. Some old roads are managed as trails for mountain bikes and 
others for use by off-highway vehicles. 

This area is close to Townsend and Helena, and many people recreate here 

year-round. Crow Creek is a main fishery on the Helena Forest. In addition, camping, recreational driving, 
hiking, mountain bike riding, horseback riding and hunting are popular. During the winter, many of the 
roads on BLM lands are open to motorized uses, except in important mule deer wintering areas. Roads 
on the Forest are closed to motorized uses during the winter. Cross country skiing is allowed, but may be 
limited by snow distribution. A winter wildlife viewing area along the Crow Creek Road can be accessed 
by motor vehicle, with a short hike or ski to a viewing and interpretive area. 

Mining is ongoing. Old mine sites have been reclaimed, or are in the process of being stabilized. New 
operations disturb as little ground as possible. Mining is managed so that the timing and amount of 
disturbance, such as motorized equipment use, to minimize disruption of wildlife using the area. All recent 
mine sites have been reclaimed; new roads are put back to contour and reseeded when they are no longer 
needed. 

Livestock grazing occurs throughout this unit. Cattle generally are present between June and October 
each year, while sheep occur in the Limestone Hills from late fall through the winter months. There are 
numerous fences and water developments to control livestock movements. The streamside areas that 
livestock use are healthy and have several age classes of shrubs present. The streambanks are covered 
with vegetation, and soil trampling is minimized. The vegetation is dominated by native species. The upland 
grasslands are also healthy, with vigorous grasses and a minimal amount of bare soil. There is enough 
grass left on the site each year to protect the soil, provide for nutrient recycling, and provide abundant 
forage for wintering wildlife. 



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The National Guard firing range is contained within the Limestone Hills portion of this area. Public vehicle 
access is limited. The area is closed to vehicles for public safety reasons during active training periods 
(April-November). National Guard activities are excluded in the area from December through early April to 
protect wintering wildlife. 

XIII. LAND MANAGEMENT PLAN MONITORING AND EVALUATION 

A. Introduction 

The Helena and Deerlodge Forest Plans, and the BLM Headwaters Resource Management Plan provide 
direction and a desired future condition for the public lands in the Elkhorn Mountains. These documents 
which were completed in 1986, 1987, and 1983, respectively, contain overall guidelines, as well as more 
specific management direction for management areas or management units in the Elkhorns. 

Since the completion of these plans, many changes in the arena of land management have taken place; 
not only generally, but also specifically in the Elkhorns. Some of these changes include increased empha- 
sis on old growth forest and its associated values; better methodology for evaluating and managing big 
game security during the hunting season; Ecological Management principles endorsed at national levels; 
and an emphasis on cooperative, consistent management of the public lands in the Elkhorn Mountains 
by virtue of the Elkhorn Memorandum of Understanding (8/92). 

These changed conditions and social values affect the ability of managers to implement the Land Manage- 
ment Plans as they are written. This chapter serves to evaluate, given the completion of the landscape 
analysis, how well the Forest Plan and RMP describe the desired future condition of the Elkhorns land- 
scape. 

B. Forest-Wide Direction 

1. Standards and Guidelines 

Forest-wide standards and guidelines that apply to the Elkhorns include those for hiding cover and open 
road density and old growth. Both of these areas were found to be deficient in this analysis. The Forest 
Plan objective for providing hiding cover and limited open road density is to enable 40% or less of the bull 
elk harvest to occur during the first week of the general hunting season. It has been determined (Hillis et 
at. 1991; Canfield 1991, Lyon and Canfield 1991) that elk vulnerability is better modelled using the 
parameters which define "elk security areas'. These include: size of cover blocks, distance of cover from 
roads, percentage of elk herd composed of security, and other factors such as topography and hunting 
regulations. It is recommended that this standard be replaced by a standard which incorporates the 
concepts of elk security areas, if not for the forest-wide standards, at least for the overall Elkhorn standards. 

The forest-wide old growth standard states that 5% of each third order drainage will be managed to provide 
old growth forest conditions with priority given to stands below 6000 feet in elevation; riparian zones, and 
mesic drainage heads, and in management areas with a wildlife emphasis. The landscape analysis 
enabled us to quantify and qualify the old growth that was maintained in natural conditions and that is 
presently available. It is recommended that the eastslde regional definitions for old growth be incorporat- 
ed into the Forest Plan, and that specific old growth allocations based on ecological landscape units 
be made for the Elkhorns consistent with the types and amount in the natural range of variation. 

2. Assumptions 

During the evaluation of the Forest Plan, an error was discovered in the original assumptions and data 
which were used to allocate livestock forage using the FORPLAN model. It appears that the animal unit 
(aUor which was used for a cow-calf pair was 1.00. The factor should have been 1.32 animal units. This 

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caused an underestimation of the amount of forage needed to support an AUM. Another data error was 
caused when draft landtype descriptions were used to estimate forage production of the various landtypes. 
Most of the estimates were significantly higher than areas are potentially capable of producing, and much 
higher than they are currently producing. The combination of these two items caused very low utilization 
rates prescribed for livestock allocation. The utilization rates for the management areas have the potential 
to cause substantial reductions in permitted livestock grazing. It is recommended that forage allocations 
be analyzed and adjusted to reflect the actual needs of livestock and wildlife, and the capabilities of the 
various landtypes to produce that forage. 

C. Overall Elkhorn Landscape 

1. Forest Service lands 

a. The management direction in the Forest Plan(s) establishes a "Wildlife Management Unit* that has as 
criteria: 

•management of wildlife habitat to maintain viable populations of species associated with existing 
ecosystems' (and emphasis on select species requiring seclusion) 

restrictions on vehicular access as necessary to maintain wildlife habitat values (and provide 
seclusion) 

'management controls' over use of motorized vehicles whenever necessary to protect wildlife 
habitat and other resources 

maintenance of the roadless and visual resource values and minimization of human activities in the 
areas around Elkhorn and Crow Peaks, and the two areas proposed as wilderness (Alternative E, 
Wilderness Study) around Tizer Basin and Crazy Peak" 

removal of the structures and signs of human activity not of historical significance to the extent 
possible 

The landscape analysis is not in direct conflict with these criteria. However, the overall driving management 
force is on sustaining biological diversity. This includes reestablishing vegetative communities that may not 
be present in the Elkhorns today, but which were present before European settlement. Therefore, it is 
recommended that the first criteria be amended to reflect the need to sustain all components (not just 
wildlife) of ecosystems that were naturally found in the Elkhorns. 

In addition, the restrictions on motorized uses should be based not only on wildlife habitat values, but also 
on the recreation opportunities desired. This would include providing a spectrum of motorized and 
non-motorized opportunities within the Elkhorns in cooperation with the needs of wildlife and other 
resources. 

b. The General Management Section of the Elkhorn WMU direction in the Forest Plan states that MDFWP 
will actively participate in the management of the Elkhorns. This is commensurate with the 1 992 MOU which 
includes both FWP and BLM as cooperating agencies. This should be amended to reflect the addition of 
BLM as a partner. This section also states that FWP and the Forest Service will jointly prepare an annual 
monitoring plan. An elk study was recently completed by FWP and is being documented. Other than the 
information on elk and some incidental information on other big game species, this monitoring report has 
never been completed. It is recommended that this paragraph be dropped and in its place it should be 
stated that the 3 agencies, directed by the MOU, will prepare an annual evaluation of the program of work 
in the Elkhorns which implements the MOU and the Forest Plan/Elkhorn Landscape Analysis. The Forest 
Plan mentions the participation of the Forest Biologist and "Elkhorn Coordinator* (previously a FWP 
biologist) on interdisciplinary teams. This should be amended to state that the Forest Service Elkhorn 

133 



Coordinator or any member of the Elkhorn Implementation Group (from the MOU) will be involved in 
NEPA, Administration, or project accomplishment in the cases where a proposal is judged to have very 
significant impacts, overlaps more than one agencies jurisdiction, or is highly controversial. 

Watershed and soils direction is limited to the McClellan Municipal watershed. This is recommended to 
Include overall desired conditions for watersheds and soils as defined in the landscape analysis. 

Outfitter/guide use is stated to be 439 service days during the general hunting season and 100 service 
days during the archery season. This use is far greater than the existing use under the restrictive bull elk 
harvest regulations currently in effect. It is recommended that this guide be dropped and a more realistic 
level be established which also incorporates outfitter/guide levels outside of the hunting season. This was 
an opportunity identified in the landscape analysis. 

Riparian management is to follow Forest-Wide Standards. It is recommended that more specific guidance, 
commensurate with achievement of the desired condition for riparian as outlined in the Landscape 
Analysis, be incorporated here. 

Landscape analysis desired conditions for timber, lands, special uses, fire protection, and minerals and 
roads is consistent with overall direction found for these items within the Forest Plan. 

The Forest Plan did not provide overall guidance on the desired conditions of plant communities. It is 
recommended that Forest Plan be amended to incorporate the desired condition goals and objectives 
which address vegetative communities as stated in this document. 

c. Management Areas 

There are four management areas that occur in the Elkhorns for which the Forest Plan has general 
guidance (see figure 5). These management area boundaries roughly correlate to ROS categories (travel/ 
roading) and key big game habitats. Units used in the landscape analysis that roughly correspond to MA's 
are the ecological landscape units (ELU's). While the vegetative resources might be better served by 
replacing the existing MA's with ELU's, the recreation resources are better defined by MA's (which reflect 
ROS generally). Therefore, it is recommended that the existing MA's be retained, but that additional 
direction be developed by the components within the MA's including ELU's, LTA's, and ROS categories. 

For each MA, the following evaluation is made: 

1) What is the forest plan direction? 

2) Is the Range of Natural Variation also the Desired Condition? 

3) How does the Desired Condition relate to the Forest Plan? 

4) Is there a conflict between the two? 

5) Is there a need to amend the Forest Plan? 

MANAGEMENT AREA E-1 

1) The E-1 management area is heavily roaded and functions mainly as big game winter range. The Forest 
Plan goals for E-1 are equally weighted and are as follows: 

E-1: * Optimize elk winter range. 

* Maintain or improve the vegetative condition and production through livestock manage- 
ment and emphasis on direct habitat improvement through techniques such as prescribed 
fire. 

* Maintain livestock AUM's at 1983 levels. 

* Provide for other resources as long as their uses are compatible with maintaining elk winter 
range. 

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Standards for the E-1 Management Area include: restricting motorized travel during winter months, a Visual 
Quality Objective of "modification", modification of livestock grazing to ensure compatibility with elk winter 
range, harvesting timber only as a tool to improve winter range, and recommended restricted surface 
occupancy for minerals from 12/1-5/15. Wildlife habitat practices that improve winter range (particularly 
prescribed fire) are encouraged, and open road densities during the summer are not to exceed about 2 
miles/section. 

2) This Management Area includes ELU's 2, 3, and 4, but is dominated by 4. The predominant ROS 
category is Roaded Natural. 

The desired condition follows mostly from the range of natural variation. The desired condition for ELU 4 
is to maintain the grasslands occurrence at the lower end of the range of natural variation, to leave more 
biomass on site, to decrease the percentage of exposed soils, to increase the proportion of desired native 
plant species (and decrease weedy species), and to increase the diversity of the landscape in terms of 
patch size and arrangement. In addition, the desired condition is to increase the size, and restore the 
potential structure and function of the riparian areas. The desired condition for Roaded Natural areas is 
to provide site protection, some user comfort, subtle site hardening, highlight special features for the user, 
and to increase the quality and clarity of information provided by signs. 

3) The Forest Plan relates to the DC indirectly through the goal of optimizing elk winter range. However, 
the DC directs "how to optimize" more specifically. It also addresses important vegetation components 
such as riparian and overall habitat diversity. 

4) There is not a direct conflict between the Forest Plan and the Desired Condition for ELU 4 or Roaded 
Natural Areas. 

5) There is a need to amend the Forest Plan to incorporate the concepts of natural range of variation and 
the specific desired condition and objectives for vegetation management as stated in this document. These 
conditions will support the overall goal or functional attributes of this area 

MANAGEMENT AREA E-2 

1) This area functions as big game summer range and is essentially roadless. The Forest Plan goals for 
E-2 are equally weighted and are as follows: 



E-2: * Optimize mountain goat and summer elk habitat. 

* Provide high quality nonmotorized recreational opportunities. 

* Maintain livestock AUM's at 1983 levels 

* Maintain or enhance moose and mule deer summer and fall habitat to the extent mountain 
goat and summer elk habitat quality is not diminished. 

* Manage to maintain or enhance nongame wildlife species, visual quality, old growth timber, 
and water quality. 

* Provide for other resource objectives, if they can be accomplished with minimal develop- 
ment of the area and are compatible with maintaining high quality mountain goat and summer 
elk habitat. 

Standards for the E-2 Management Area include: improvements for non-motorized recreation, a Visual 
Quality Objective of "retention", modification of livestock grazing to ensure compatibility with mountain goat 
and elk summer range, no timber harvest, and restricted surface occupancy and other minerals activities 
on a case-by -case basis (with emphasis on maintaining an unroaded environment). Wildlife habitat 
practices that improve summer range are encouraged, and the entire area is closed to motorized vehicles 
year-round. 



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2) This Management Area includes ELU's 1, 2, and 3, but is dominated by 2. The predominant ROS 
category is Semi-Primitive Non-Motorized (SPNM). 

The desired condition follows mostly from the range of natural variation. The desired condition for ELU 2 
is to maintain diversity within the lodgepole pine community (in terms of between stand attributes such as 
age class) and to maintain the grasslands at the range they occurred naturally and to increase the desired 
native plant species (and decrease weedy species). In addition, the desired condition is to increase the 
size, and restore the potential structure and function of the riparian areas. The desired condition for SPNM 
areas includes improving the trail system and signing, provide the existing level of solitude and to 
emphasize only non-motorized opportunities. 

3) The Forest Plan relates to the DC both indirectly through the goal of optimizing mountain goat and elk 
summer range, and directly in terms of providing quality non-motorized recreation opportunities. Relative 
to the grassland and riparian components, the DC directs "how to optimize" more specifically. In addition, 
the Forest Plan states that fire from unplanned ignition may be used for the ehancement or maintenance 
of resources. This is consistent with the DC for increasing diversity in lodgepole pine. 

4) There is not a direct conflict between the Forest Plan and the Desired Condition for ELU 2 or SPNM 
Areas. 

5) There is a need to amend the Forest Plan to incorporate the concepts of natural range of variation and 
the specific desired condition and objectives for vegetation management as stated in this document. These 
conditions will support the overall goal or functional attributes of this area. In addition, the specific 
recreation desired conditions for this area could be highlighted. 

MANAGEMENT AREA E-3 

1) This management area functions as both elk calving and summer range and provides important habitat 
for mule deer and moose. It has low road densities. The goals for MA E-3 are equally weighted and are 
as follows: 

E-3: * Optimize elk calving and summer range. 

* Maintain or enhance moose, mule deer, and other wildlife habitat and visual quality to the 
extent elk calving and summer habitat quality is not diminished. 

* Provide for other resource objectives if they are compatible with the elk calving and summer 
range objectives. 

Standards for the E-3 Management Area include: restricting motorized travel to designated routes, improv- 
ing non-motorized recreation, a Visual Quality Objective of "partial retention", harvesting timber only as a 
tool to improve elk calving/summer range, and restricting surface occupancy for minerals from 5/1 5-6/30. 
Wildlife habitat practices that improve calving/summer range (including prescribed fire and timber man- 
agement) are encouraged, and open road densities are to be maintained at no more than about 0.5 
miles/section. 

2) This Management Area includes ELU's 1, 2, 3, and 4, but is dominated by 1 and 3. The predominant 
ROS category is Semi-Primitive Motorized (SPM). 

The desired condition follows mostly from the range of natural variation. The desired condition for ELU 1 
is to restore the open savannah like structure in old growth ponderosa pine and Douglas fir stands, 
increase the diversity of shrubs in the understory of the conifer stands, to increase the quantity and quality 
of grasslands to within the natural range of variation, and to maintain and increase aspen. In addition, the 
desired condition is to increase the size, and restore the potential structure and function of the riparian 
areas. The desired condition for SPM areas includes providing primitive motorized experiences, highlight- 
ing special leatures ana attractions for users, ana proviaing oniy rustic facilities for sue protection. 

136 



The desired condition for ELU 3 is to increase the extent and native composition in grasslands and to 
decrease canopy closure in conifer stands to mimic the range of natural variation. In addition, the DC state 
that on-site biomass and ground cover should be increased. Aspen and riparian areas are also featured 
in this ELU. 

3) The Forest Plan relates to the DC indirectly through the goal of optimizing elk calving/summer range. 
However, the DC directs "how to optimize" more specifically. It also addresses important vegetation 
components such as riparian and understory shrub diversity. The Forest Plan does allow for both planned 
and unplanned burning in this MA. This is consistent with potential tools for achieving the DC. 

4) There is not a direct conflict between the Forest Plan and the Desired Condition for ELU 1, 3, or SPM 
Areas. However, if shrubs are burned to create additional grasslands, there may be a conflict with the 
overall function of this MA as an elk calving area. 

5) There is a need to amend the Forest Plan to incorporate the concepts of natural range of variation and 
the specific desired condition and objectives for vegetation management as stated in this document. These 
conditions will support the overall goal or functional attributes of this area. 

MANAGEMENT AREA E-4 

1) This management area functions as yearlong moose, elk, and mule deer habitat. It is heavily roaded. 
The goals are equally weighted as follows: 

E-4: * Optimize moose, elk, and mule deer habitat. 

* Maintain or improve water quality and stream stability, particularly in McClellan Creek, which 
contributes to the East Helena municipal water suppy. 

* Provide for other resource objectives as long as these uses are compatible with maintaining 
big game habitat. 

Standards for the E-4 Management Area include: improvements for dispersed recreation, a Visual Quality 
Objective of ■modification*, modification of livestock grazing to ensure compatibility with wildlife habitat, 
timber harvest only as a tool to improve vegetation diversity, and restricted surface occupancy for minerals 
from 12/1-5/15. 

Wildlife habitat practices that improve aspen and willow (including prescribed fire and timber manipulation) 
are encouraged, and open road densities are not to exceed about 1 .5 miles/section. Fires from both 
planned and unplanned ignitions may be used to enhance or maintain resources. This area includes the 
McClellan Creek municipal watershed with standards for maintenance of water quality. 

2) This Management Area includes ELU 1 . The predominant ROS category is Roaded Natural. 

The desired condition follows mostly from the range of natural variation. The desired condition for ELU 1 
is to restore the open savannah like structure in old growth ponderosa pine and Douglas fir stands, 
increase the diversity of shrubs in the understory of the conifer stands, to increase the quantity and quality 
of grasslands to within the natural range of variation, and to maintain and increase aspen. In addition, the 
desired condition is to increase the size, and restore the potential structure and function of the riparian 
areas. The desired condition for Roaded Natural areas is to provide site protection, some user comfort, 
subtle site hardening, highlight special features for the user, and to increase the quality and clarity of 
information provided by signs. 

3) The Forest Plan relates to the DC indirectly through the goal of optimizing wildlife habitat. However, the 
DC directs "how to optimize' more specifically. It also addresses important vegetation components such 
as riparian and overall habitat diversity. 



137 



4) There is not a direct conflict between the Forest Plan and the Desired Condition for ELU 1 or Roaded 
Natural Areas. 

5) There is a need to amend the Forest Plan to incorporate the concepts of natural range of variation and 
the specific desired condition and objectives for vegetation management as stated in this document. These 
conditions will support the overall goal or functional attributes of this area. 

d. Monitoring Items 

EVALUATION OF EXISTING ITEMS 

Table IV-1 in the Helena Forest Plan contains 3 monitoring items (C1 , C2, and C3) which apply specifically 
to the Elkhorns. 

Item 01 states that the seasonal distribution, movement patterns, population structure, and density will be 
monitored for elk, mule deer, moose, and mountain goat populations. The intent of this item includes 
identification of the population segments and year-long home ranges of these species. Given the social 
value of these game species, this fine filter* monitoring approach is warranted to establish the baseline 
conditions necessary to detect changes that might result from management actions. 

To date, this work has been completed for elk. Based on 10 years of information, adequate baseline 
information on population segments and year-long home is known. In addition, general baseline informa- 
tion is known about the other big game species listed in this monitoring item (see Wildlife section, this 
document). Therefore, it is recommended that this monitoring item be dropped. Monitoring of game 
populations to determine trends in numbers, sex, and age ratios by Montana Dept. Fish, Wildlife and Parks, 
will also serve to detect gross changes in distribution and movement patterns. 

Item C2 states that habitats be evaluated for elk, mule deer, moose, and goat to determine habitat 
preferences. For reasons suggested above, it is recommended that this item be dropped. Habitat prefer- 
ences for black bear have not yet been determined within the Elkhorn Mountains (or any other isolated 
eastside mountain range). Therefore, it is recommended that data on black bear be collected. This is not 
a monitoring item. 

Item C3 states that the effects of land use activities such as livestock grazing, timber harvest, fire, vehicle 
use, mining, and hunting, be evaluated relative to ungulate populations. While this has been an on-going 
monitoring activity for elk populations in the Elkhorns, the information has not been formally analyzed to 
date. It is expected that such an analysis will be completed in the next 2 years by MDFWP. Because of the 
abundance of baseline information on elk populations, it is recommended that less intensive monitoring 
(trend flights, hunter contacts, utilization transects) be continued to evaluate any changes in elk distribution 
and habitat use patterns resulting from any manipulations of soil, water, or vegetation. 

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR MONITORING ITEMS 

The purpose of monitoring is 2-fold. Monitoring should serve to measure progress towards achieving the 
goals and objectives of the land management plans (Desired Conditions) as well as to determine whether 
the goals and objectives are still valid and if not, why not. In addition, under the umbrella of Ecosystem 
Management, another purpose for monitoring is to know if we are sustaining and enhancing biota and 
biotic processes in the Elkhorn Mountains. 

To date, monitoring plans in the Elkhorns have emphasized wildlife. Wildlife populations fluctuate for a 
variety of reasons. Therefore, changes are often difficult or costly to detect at a level necessary to make 
statistically valid conclusions. For this reason, it is recommended that the emphasis in monitoring in the 
Elkhorns be shifted away from wildlife, with the exception of fine filter* species such as threatened, 
endangerd, sensitive and/or hunted/trapped wildlife species. Insted, future monitoring should be done to 

138 



insure progress in meeting the Desired Conditions for the basic resources of soil, water, and vegetation. 
This will insure that the conditions necessary to conserve 'coarse filter* species are met and sustained over 
time. 

In each Implementation Area, it is recommended that key sites be selected by Landtype Association. At 
these sites, information about organic material incorporation and nutrient recycling, erosion and com- 
paction, vegetation structure and composition, water quality, and watershed function can be collected both 
before and after management opportunites are implemented. This information can then be used to modify 
either a desired condition, an assumption, or the management directions outlined in the Forest Plan and 
further refined in the Landscape Analysis. 

Because of the abundance of information on elk populations and their social importance in the mountain 
range, continued, but less intensive monitoring is suggested (see items C1-C3 above). Baseline informa- 
tion on sensitive species is needed before monitoring can be effective in detecting changes or trends. 

2. Bureau of Land Management 

The Headwaters Resource Area Resource Management Plan is the guiding document for the BLM con- 
cerning all management activities which occur on BLM lands in this area. Management guidance under 
this plan allows for a wide spectrum of multiple uses of which wildlife is only one priority. There are ten 
management units (MU's) with varying management strategies within the Elkhorn boundaries (see figure 
6). Management direction for range was developed by allotment rather than management unit. 

Management units included for this area are: 7,8,9, 10, 15,31, 32,33,34, and 36. In the BLM lands included 
in the Elkhorn Landscape Analysis (Limestone Hills), the MU's include 9,15, and 31-34. 

a. Guidance common to all management units is as follows: 

Soils: Maintain productivity and minimize erosion. 

Water: Maintain/improve water quality. When possible roads and utility corridors will avoid riparian 
zones. 

Oil and gas: Open to oil and gas leases subject to specific stipulations needed to protect seasonal 
wildlife habitat and/or other sensitive resource values. No occupancy in Unit 32 portion of the 
Limestone Hills. 

Locatable minerals: Open to entry and development subject to no unnecessary or undue degrada- 
tion. 

Lands ownership: Disposal: MU7.10. Retention: all other MU's. 

Utility corridors: Available: MU 7-10,33,36. Avoidance: 15,31,32,35 Window: 34. 

Recreation: Provide for a wide range of recreation opportunities commensurate with demand and 
other resource concerns. Travel planning will remain a high priority for public land in the Elkhorns. 

Motorized Vehicle Access: Open MU7,8,10,15, 34. Restricted: MU 9,31,32, 33,36. 

Motorcycle events: May be authorized/permitteed only in areas designated as available. Units 
available are 7,8,9,10,36. Unavailable are units 15,31,32,33,34,35. 



139 



Visual Resources: The visual resource will continue to be evaluated as a part of activity and project 
planning. Management classes for public lands not specially designated would be determined 
during activity and project planning, in accordance with BLM visual resource management policy. 

Cultural Resources: Manage cultural resources in a stewardship role for public benefit.The private 
lands included within the analysis boundary are not included in, or affected by this analysis. It is 
hoped that this document may serve to assist private landowners is assessing their private lands 
in relation to the rest of the mountain range. 

Range Program: All grazing allotments in the resource area have been assigned to one of three 
management categories based on present resource conditions and the potential for improvement. 
The M allotments generally will be managed to maintain current satisfactory resource conditions; 
I allotments generally will be managed to imporve resource conditions; and C allotments will receive 
custodial management to prevent resource deterioration. 

Wildlife and Fisheries Program: Fish and wildlife habitat will continue to be evaluated on a 
case-by-case basis as a part of project level planning. No activities will be permitted in habitat for 
threatened and endangered species that would jeopardize the continued existence of such species. 
Sufficient forage and cover will be provided for wildlife on seasonal habitat. 

Fire Program: the primary fire protection objective will continue to be the control, during the first 
burning period, of all wildfires on or threatening public land. 

Forestry: these units are available for a full range of forest management activities. 

b. Management Units 

There are 6 MU's on the BLM lands in this analysis. MU's seperate areas which, because of different issues, 
resource values and/or management opportunities or constraints, require different management guidance. 
Management unit guidelines along with areawide guidance define what total management direction is and 
how it will be implemented (BLM 1983). All of the MU's fall within ELU 4 and within LTA 11. The area is all 
within the Roaded Natural setting. 

For the collection of MU's, the following evaluation is made: 

1) What is the RMP direction? 

2) Is the Range of Natural Variation also the Desired Condition? 

3) How does the Desired Condition relate to the RMP? 

4) Is there a conflict between the two? 

5) Is there a need to amend the RMP? 

MU's 33 and 34 include only powerline corridors and hence are not considered in this evaluation. 

MANAGEMENT UNIT 9 

This MU includes BLM tracts both north and south of the Limestone Hills (eg. Kimber Gulch; Johnny Gulch). 
These lands are considered to have "high multiple use values including seasonally important wildlife 
habitats". Within the preferred alternative, management direction is as follows: 

1) MU 9: * Special stipulations on oil and gas leasing and development 

* Low priority for Forest Management 

* Retention in BLM ownership 

* Available for mineral exploration and development 

* Available for motorcycle use areas 

140 



* Restricted motorized use events 

* Available for utility corridors 

MANAGEMENT UNIT 15 
This MU includes the BLM land along the Missouri River near Townsend. 

1) MU 15 * Standard stipulations on oil and gas leasing and development 

* Low priority tor Forest Management 

* Retention in BLM ownership 

* Available for mineral exploration and development 

* Closed for motorcycle use areas 

* Open for motorized vehicle access 

* Avoidance for utility corridors 

MANAGEMENT UNIT 31 
This MU includes most of the public land within the Limestone Hills. 

1) MU 31 * Special stipulations on oil and gas leasing and development 

* Low priority for Forest Management 

* Retention in BLM ownership 

* Available for mineral exploration and development 

* Closed to motorcycle use areas 

* Restricted motorized use events 

* Avoidance for utility corridors 

MANAGEMENT UNIT 32 
This MU includes the "impact zone and other key areas of National Guard use in the Limestone Hills Area". 

1) MU 32 * No occupancy on oil and gas leasing and development 

* Low priority for Forest Management 

* Retention in BLM ownership 

* Available for mineral exploration and development 

* Closed for motorcycle use events 

* Restricted motorized use events 

* Avoidance for utility corridors 

2) The desired condition for ELU 4 and LTA 1 1 follows mostly from the range of natural variation. The 
desired condition for ELU 4 is to maintain the grasslands occurrence at the lower end of the range of natural 
variation, to leave more biomass on site, to decrease the percentage of exposed soils, to increase the 
proportion of desired native plant species (and decrease weedy species), and to increase the diversity of 
the landscape in terms of patch size and arrangement. In addition, the desired condition is to increase the 
size, and restore the potential structure and function of the riparian areas. The desired condition for 
Roaded Natural areas is to provide site protection, some user comfort, subtle site hardening, highlight 
special features for the user, and to increase the quality and clarity of information provided by signs. 

3) The RMP relates to the DC indirectly through the stipulations on uses. However, the DC directs more 
specific management of the vegetation resources, addressing important vegetation components such as 
riparian and overall habitat diversity. 

4) There is not a direct conflict between the RMP and the Desired Condition for ELU 4 or Roaded Natural 
Areas. 

141 



5) At the time of revision of the RMP, it is recommended that the concepts of natural range of variation and 
the specific desired condition for vegetation management be incorporated for all of the above MU's. These 
conditions will support the overall management direction for this area. 



142 



Appendix A 
Assumptions used to define vegetation patterns 



Fire 



The following is a list of the assumptions used in developing the historical role of fire in the Elkhorns 
mountains. 

There was no fire suppression prior to the time of European man settlement. Fires had the ability 
to spread as far as the weather, fuel, and slope conditions would allow. 

Herbivores were present but were not in significant numbers to consume enough vegetation to 
significantly alter the spread of fires. 

The climate for the past 500 years was much the same as it is today. Wind, temperature, precipitation 
and lightning have not changed during that time period. 

Native Americans were present and used fire to change the landscape to their advantage. 

Forage was the most important factor in the distribution and numbers of animals present and not 
hiding cover. Native American populations did not possess superior weaponry or transportation that 
would allow hiding cover to be nearly as important as it is today. 

Vegetation 

The 1 922 range analysis map will be used to delineate general ranges of grassland/shrublands and 
an ecotonal area between conifer and grassland/shrubland areas. This assumes that the 1922 map 
showed the upper limit of shrubs within the grass/shrub complex. The logic behind this assumption 
was that domestic grazing was so intensive between the late 1 800's and 1 922 that no fine fuels 
existed to carry fire and at the same time, no shrubs were able to regenerate. 

The landtype association map describes range of variation in percentages of habitat types within 
each LTA for grassland/shrublands. 

The percentages of each landtype allocated to a iifeform (eg. forested) are based on habitat type 
information by landtype and soil characteristics. 

Estimates of biomass production were made using information from "relic plots* and from recent 
plots in disturbed areas. Biomass production refers to the herbaceous vegetation and only the 
annual growth. 



143 



Appendix B 
Climate Data 



1. Climatic Periods: 

Over the past twenty years various climatologists have attempted to reconstruct periods of climatic change 
("episodes"), through time, on a world-wide basis. Evidence from glacial landforms, ancient documents, 
and most importantly from fossil pollen have led to the development of a sequence (or "nomenclature") 
which names and characterizes each episode of climactic change from about 1 4,000 years before present 
(BP) to modern times (taken from Fairchild 1992). 

This climatic information is presented as an illustration of the tremendous amount of change that has 
occurred over geologic time frames. As a note of caution, the information behind the conclusions is largely 
continental in scope and is based on varied and sometimes contradictory data. What follows is a list of the 
climactic sequences, their probable dates of duration, and the kind of environment characterized by each 
episode. 

1.) late Glacial : 14,000-10,000 BP 

The period refers to the terminal stages of the Pleistocene Epoch and the final three glacial advances of 
the Pinedale episode. During these three advances two separate ice sheets moved southeast and south- 
west respectively into what is today Montana. The Cordilleran Glacial Complex was an 'alpine* (mountain) 
glacier centered between Alaska and Saskatchewan and tended southeast as it advanced. The 'continen- 
tal* glacier, the Laurentide Ice Sheet, was centered in central Canada and moved southwestward. The two 
glaciers advanced and retreated at different intervals or rates, and never joined together. Their furthest 
extent southward in Montana was during the first Pinedale advance with the sheets stopping near present- 
day Great Falls. The narrow (geographically speaking) ice-free corridor between the two glaciers is thought 
to have extended along the Rocky Mountain Front from Lethbridge (Alberta) through the Helena Valley. 
Fossil pollen samples for this period are not as plentiful as later periods since Glacier Peak volcanic ash 
has destroyed most of the record prior to 1 1 ,250 BP. Nevertheless two bogs in northcentral and western 
Montana that do contain fossil pollen show a 'relatively dense, cold, sagebrush steppe* type of environ- 
ment prior to 1 1 ,500. The steppe environment was replaced shortly afterward, during the retreat of the last 
Pinedale glaciation, with whitebark pine, some lodgepole pine, and fir trees. The same scenario is repeated 
at bogs near Yellowstone National Park: After 1 1 ,500 BP lodgepole pine and subalpine fir replaced alpine, 
subalpine, and steppe vegetation. 

During Late Glacial times, high mountain areas along the Missouri River/Helena Valley locale were vegetat- 
ed with alpine and cold sagebrush steppe communities. More specifically, it has been inferred from 
pollen/bog evidence that the upper treeline limit was 2,000 feet lower than at present. On what is now 
Helena National Forest lands, timberline is now generally found at approximately 9,000 feet. Taking 2,000 
feet away from this figure would put the Late Glacial timberline at about 7,000 feet. Considering that the 
Forest Boundary coincides roughly with the 6,000-foot contour line (except where the HNF borders the 
Missouri River) it can be imagined that present-day National Forest lands were largely untimbered prior 
to about 10,200 years ago. 

2.) Pre-boreal 10,000-9,300 BP 

An abrupt change in atmospheric circulation patterns is considered responsible for the onset of the 
Pre-Boreal phase. Overall the period is characterized by warming, but the evidence is more on the Great 
Plains (where spruce forest is replaced by grasslands) than in Montana. Two bogs at Yellowstone National 
Park show relatively little change from the preceding Late Glacial Period. 

3.) Boreal : 9,300-8,490 BP 

In this climactic episode the Laurentide Ice Sheet continued it's retreat to the northwest, allowing cold Arctic 
surface air to penetrate the ice-free corridor and the Helena Valley. The ensuing climate featured continen- 



144 



tal (Canadian) weather patterns with warmer summers and colder winters. Overall the climate appears drier 
than the previous episodes and grasslands began replacing some of the fir forests by the end of the period. 

4.) Atlantic : 8,490-5,060 BP 

The Atlantic episode witnessed the greatest expansion of grasslands on the Western Plains. Overall the 
climate was warmer than present and bogs with fossil pollen show Douglas fir and larch trees dominant. 
While warmer temperatures are the hallmark of the Atlantic episode, the conditions are not meant to imply 
a drier climate as well. The bogs show no evidence to support theories of a global warming trend with 
drought-like conditions. During the Atlantic episode there would have been a significant upslope migration 
of all existing plant communities. Mountain ranges surrounding the Helena Valley would have included 
more grasslands and ponderosa pine than at present, and Douglas fir trees would have dominated what 
are presently cool subalpine habitats. Of all the episodes, the Atlantic, the Late Glacial, and the Neo-Boreal 
featured the most dramatically different climates and vegetation patterns in comparison to today's current 
weather and vegetation communities. 

5.) Sub-boreal : 5,060-2,760 BP 

Canadian Arctic frontal zones cooled the northwestern Plains from their Atlantic warmth. Over the entire 
Plains, the boreal forest migrated south and grasslands retreated westward to about their present limits. 
Pine trees became proportionately dominant over sagebrush in the Helena Valley. Conditions very much 
like today's are inferred from the fossil pollen remains at bogs from Montana City to Yellowstone. Lost Trail 
Pass in far western Montana showed a return to cooler and moister conditions with pine replacing 
Douglas-fir trees and whitebark pine becoming more prominent than in the previous 5,000 years. 

6.) Sub-atlantic : 2,760-1,680 BP 

During this 1,200 year episode a northeastward shift of the Great Basin's upper-air anticyclonic eddy 
caused climatic deterioration that would have made the Helena Valley considerably more moist. Fossil 
pollen from bogs at Montana City and Yellowstone National Park show a peak in pine species. 

7.) Scandic : 1,680-1,260 BP 

An episode of climatic transition, the Scandic brought warmer and evidently drier conditions to the 
northwestern Plains. In the Helena vicinity a steep decrease in pine pollen and proportionate increase in 
grasses could represent the shift in climate that characterizes this period. 

8.) Neo-atlantic : 1 ,260-850 BP 

This brief episode is barely detectable in the Helena Valley area, although the evidence from other Montana 
areas makes it appear that pine made a rebound and sagebrush reached its peak during the Neo-Atlantic. 
Overall the episode is characterized by continued warm, but with moister conditions than before. 

9.) Pacific : 850-450 BP 

Westerlies increased in strength, apparently throughout the Northern Hemisphere, during the Pacific 
episode. In North America, it meant an increasingly modified continental climate as the strong westerlies 
pushed dry air from the Rocky Mountain rainshadow far into the eastern Plains. Exactly what effect this 
would have had on Montana climate is not evident in local paleoecology. In general, evidence from the 
Great Plains indicates that conditions were drier than during the previous episode and probably very similar 
to today's conditions. 

10.) Neo-Boreal : 400-100 BP 

The Neo-Boreal has been called the "Little Ice Age" by climatologists since conditions were considerably 
colder and moister than present. Cool summers and cold autumns typify the episode and serve to verify 
the weather observations of Lewis and Clark during their travels through what is now Montana (see below). 
!n the Helena vicinity It >s estimated that the timberline was considerably lower and that mountainsides, from 

145 



mid-slope up to the crests, were bare of trees. During the Neo-Boreal, Glacier National Park experienced 
reglaciation as did the Wind River Mountains in Wyoming, the Alberta Rockies, the Olympic Mountains, the 
Cascade Range, and mountains in the Banff-Jasper area. Large valley glaciers on Mount Rainier reached 
their Holocene maximum about 1820-30. 

11.) Present Climate 

The present climate of the Elkhoms can be described as a modified continental climate. The important 
factors that determine this climate include the frequent invasions of moist Pacific air masses, drainage of 
cool air into the Townsend Valley from the surrounding mountains, and the sheltering effect of the valley 
from the surrounding mountains. These elements in combination act to make temperature changes less 
than a true continental climate. The Elkhorn Mountains also act as a rain shadow for the Townsend- 
Missouri River valley. Precipitation in the area varies from an average of 11.11 inches in Townsend to 27.6 
inches at Tizer Basin (includes precipitation as snow). May and June are usually the wettest months, both 
in the mountains and in the valley. Infrequently, rain and maximum snowmelt coincide in the wet months 
of May and June and the result is flooding. During winter there are usually a few invasions of very cold arctic 
air which drop temperatures to well below zero for short periods of time. Temperatures vary dramatically 
between winter and summer seasons with January being the coldest month (19.9 F)and July being the 
warmest month (67.7 F). Average annual temperature is 43.3 F. 

Summers are characteristically warm and occasionally hot with temperatures rarefy above 90 F. There is 
usually a marked change in temperature from day to night which is common in mountain climates. 
Thunderstorms are common during the months of May-August and may occasionally result in hail. Winters 
are characterized by extremes of temperature where mild periods with temperatures above freezing can 
be interrupted by cold waves with temperatures below zero. Cold air may be trapped in the valley by 
inversions while mountain temperatures remain more moderate. 

General climatic data for the Elkhorns can be summarized as follows. 

Precipitation levels are highest in the mid-portion of the Elkhorns, less on the west side of the Elkhorns, 
and least on the east side of the Elkhorns. Precipitation levels have declined in the last 60-70 years. 
Precipitation cycles range from 3-22 years with a mean of 9.25 years. The most severe drought period 
occurred from 1929-1942. 

Temperature has remained fairly constant. Cycles of warm and cool periods range from 10-20 years. The 
coolest time period occurred from 1895-1920, and the warmest period occurred from 1920-1940. 

The prevailing wind direction is west to south west; 1988 to the present reflects the windiest conditions on 
record. 

The Elkhorns have hundreds of lightning strikes each year, with more occurring on the west side of the 
range. About 5 strikes each year start fires which are supressed. Fire conditions (relating to low precipita- 
tion and warm temperatures) have occurred more frequently in the last 10 years than in any other 10 year 
period since 1887. 

2. Recent Climate Data 

PRECIPITATION 

HELENA 

The precipitation information given in the following sections is largely from the Helena station because it 
has the longest continuous period of record (1 12 years). This information has been plotted by month and 
is available at the Townsend Ranger District. Although the actual precipitation in the analysis area will vary 
from these information, it is believed that the relatively close proximity of the data collecting area to the 
analysis area and the length of the record available gives a relative indication of the precipitation and 
temperature variations for the greater analysis area. 

146 



Average Annual Precipitation Helena 1881-1949=12.56 inches 

1881-1960=12.36 inches 
1881-1990=12.16 inches 

Monthly precipitation for Helena from 1884-1990 indicates the following: 

1 . Several periods of much greater than normal precipitation occurred from 1 891 through 1 91 7. These wet 
periods are reflected in the difference between the 1 881 -1 949 annual average and the 1 881 -1 960 and 1 990 
annual averages. Overall, it appears that the area has been receiving less precipitation for the last 60-70 
years. 

2. The period 1910-1918 was much wetter than normal with 4 out of 9 years having annual precipitation 
more than three inches above the normal of 12.12 inches. 

3. The period 1 930-1 990 (61 years) has been drier than normal. 60% of the years have had less than normal 
precipitation. 

4. Dry and wet cycles appear to have lengths ranging from 3 years to 22 years with the mean length of 
a cycle being 9.25 years. 

5. Severe droughts have occurred from 1929-1942, 1944-47 and 1949-1962. Of these, the drought of 
1929-42 was most severe and longest lasting. 

TIZER BASIN 

Precipitation for the Tizer Basin area has been collected by the Soil Conservation Service since at least 
1 961 . This information is believed to be fairly representative of the mountainous, high-end of the precipita- 
tion spectrum for the analysis area. Monthly average precipitation in inches for Tizer Basin from 1 961 -1 985 
is as follows: 

Oct-2.00 in. Feb-1.80in. Jun-3.00 in. 

Nov-1.90in. Mar-3.00 in. Jul-1.40in. 

Dec-2.20 in. Apr-2.50 in. Aug-1.50in. 

Jan-2.40 in. May-3.70 in. Sep-2.20 in. 

Total-27.60 inches 

TEMPERATURE 

Temperature information was also plotted by month from the Helena Weather station and is available at 
the Townsend Ranger District. Average temperatures were taken from Local Climatological Data for the 
Helena Weather Station, published by the US Department of Commerce Weather Bureau. 

Average Annual temperature Helena 1899-1925=43 F 

1881-1960 = 43.7 F 
1881-1990=43.7 F 

1. Cycles of warmer vs. cooler periods seem to fluctuate in 10-20 year cycles. A 'cooler' or 'warmer' cycle 
is a period of years where average annual temperatures tend to be higher or lower than the long-term 
average of 43.7 F. 

2.Cooler cycles: 1895-1920, 1940-1960. 1970-1980. 

Of the cool cyles, the period 1895-1920 is the coolest with 17 of 26 years (65%) having average annual 
temperatures less 43.7 degrees. 



147 



3.Warmer cycles: 1920-1940, 1960-1970, 1980-1990. 

Of the warm cycles, the period 1920-1940 was the warmest with 13 of 21 years (61%) having average 
annual temperatures greater than 43.7 degrees. This warm period also coincides in part with the drought 
of 1929-1942 which was the most severe in Montana's recorded history. 

AVERAGE ANNUAL WIND SPEED 

Helena 1941-1990=7.8 mph 

Windiest month-April (9.2 mph), May (8.9 mph) and June (8.6 mph). 

Prevailing wind direction is from the west, however, peak gusts and high wind events tend to come 

from the southwest, west, northwest and south. 

Fastest wind (in mph)-Jan. 1944, Feb. 1949-73 mph 

Peak Gusts: 

Jan./July 1990-64mph 

Mar 1989-55mph 

Apr 1989-58mph 

Feb 1988-63mph 

Jun/Dec 1988-58mph 

Oct 1988-54 mph 

Note: All the monthly records for peak gusts have been broken during 1 987-1 990 except for August 
which had a record gust of 51 mph in 1984. 

POTENTIAL FIRE CONDITIONS 

Potential fire conditions are defined as months where the total precipitation was less than 0.5 inches and 
average monthly temperatures were 67 degrees or higher. From the monthly temperature and precipitation 
graph, these conditions occurred only in the months of July and August. These conditions occurred in the 
following years: 

1897-Aug 1940-Aug 1984-July 

1898-Aug 1949-July 1985-July 

1905-Aug 1953-July 1988-July and Aug 

1910-July 1955-Aug 1990-July 

1914-July 1959-July 

1919-July & Aug 1966-July 

1921 -July 1974-July 

1929-Aug 1975-July 

1931 -Aug 1979-July 

1936-July 1982-July 

The potential fire conditions defined by the incidence of low precipitation and high monthly temperatures 
shows 5 occurrences of these conditions in the past 10 years (1981-1990). These conditions do not occur 
as frequently in any other 1 year period in the record. 

CLIMATE TRIVIA 

Driest Month-Feb 
Killing Frost years- 
Drought year in the Townsend Valley-1917 

Coldest winter - January 1916, monthly average temperature was -12 F. 
Wettest Year-1925, 20.35 inches 



148 



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Appendix E 

Riparian Aggregate Descriptions 


AGGREGATE NUMBER 


TOTAL ACRES 


TOTAL STREAM MILES 


1 


5.299 


4 1 


2 


43.756. 


35.0 


3 


12.449. 


20.6 


4 


2.934. 


73 


5 


1,675. 


10.6 


6 


27. 


0.1 


10 


6,412. 


7.3 


11 


20.150. 


51.7 


12 


1,954. 


3.6 


13 


168. 


0.9 


15 


1,340. 


6.5 


16 


2,159. 


8.2 


18 


11,133. 


17.1 


19 


3,467. 


66 


20 


3,494. 


63 


21 


14,696. 


29.0 


22 


1.600. 


0.8 


23 


1,554. 


2.6 


24 


88. 


0.9 


25 


2,692. 


25.8 


26 


287. 


1.7 


27 


1,781. 


8.6 


28 


1,222. 


72 


29 


253. 


1.4 


31 


894. 


8.4 



154 



ELKHORNS WATERSHEDS 



WATERSHED 


WATERSHED NAME 


TOTAL STREAM MILES 


TOTAL ACRES 


08000 


Drains off Forest 


5.903 


14,254 


08200 


Prickly Pear Creek 


13.305 


6,945 


0820A 


Weimer Creek 


1.612 


632 


08210 


Dutchman Creek 


6.961 




08220 


Warm Springs Creek 


19.638 


10,799 


0822A 


Badger Creek 


3.026 


808 


08230 


Strawberry Creek 


5.741 


2,236 


0825A 


Corral Creek 


1.411 


470 


0825B 


Trib. to Spokane Creek 


1.067 


503 


09000 


Drains off Forest 


1.475 


1,798 


09010 


Maupin Creek 


9.514 


3,719 


09040 


McClellan Creek 


25.157 


12,673 


12000 


Drains off Forest 


8.509 


8,343 


12010 


Antelope Creek 


2.154 


1,084 


12020 


Staubach Creek 


3.159 


1,170 


12030 


Beaver Creek 


19.608 


16.555 


1203A 


North Pole Creek 


2.019 


600 


1203B 


South Pole Creek 


0.931 


758 


1203C 


Weasel Creek 


3.252 


2.264 


12040 


Kimber Gulch 


1.290 


3,421 


1204B 


Whrtehorse Creek 


3.411 


2,082 


1204C 


Dlarfte 


1.313 


425 


1205A 


Indian Creek 


5.117 


3,208 


1205B 


West Fork Indian Creek 


3.307 


1,674 


12060 


Crow Creek 


103.365 


54,785 


1206A 


Slim Sam Creek 


14.182 


4,786 


12070 


Dahlman Gulch 


2.752 


4,369 


1207A 


Johnny Gulch 


1.822 


1,490 


28010 


Dry Creek (Sand Creek) 


2.280 


1,464 



155 



Appendix F 
Big Game Tabular Information 

BUCK BEAR 

Sex and aqes of black bear harvested in the Elkhorn Mountains from 1987 to 1991 . 



Date 


Location 


Sex 


Age 


Color 


5/22/87 


Crow Cr 


M 


16 


unknown 


5/6/87 


Indian Cr 


M 


7 


unknown 


11/12/87 


Unknown 


M 


4 


Black 


5/20/88 


Weasel Cr 


M 


1 


Blond 


4/29/88 


Warm Springs Cr 


M 


7 


Black 


5/16/88 


Prickly Pear Cr 


M 


9 


Cinnamon 


5/22/88 


Strawberry Cr 


M 


4 


Light Brown 


5/28/88 


Crystal Cr 


M 


5 


Dark Brown 


6/1/88 


Kimber Gulch 


F 


2 


Black 


5/21/89 


S.Fk. Crow Cr 


M 


6 


Brown 


5/24/89 


Beaver Cr 


F 


2 


Brown 


5/20/89 


Beaver Cr 


F 


5 


Brown 


5/31/89 


Beaver Cr 


F 


13 


Brown 


5/29/89 


Staubach Cr 


M 


8 


Cinnamon 


6/12/89 


Eagle Cr 


M 


2 


Brown 


6/5/89 


Beaver Cr 


M 


2 


B'own 


5/26/89 


Tin Cup Cr 


F 


5 


Brown 


5/29/89 


Crystal Cr 


M 


4 


Black 


5/26/89 


Crystal Cr 


F 


2 


Blond 


11/4/89 


Johnny Gulch 


M 


3 


Brown 


10/22/89 


Cabin Gulch 


M 


3 


Chocolate 


11/2/89 


Prickly Pear Cr 


F 


4 


Brown 


5/18/89 


McClellan Cr 


F 


7 


Brown 


8/1 5/89 


Townsend Area 


M 


3 


Black 


5/31/90 


Crystal Cr 


F 


11 


Cinnamon 


6/7/90 


Staubach Cr 


M 


4 


Brown 


5/23/90 


Warm Springs Cr 


F 


4 


Light Brown 


5/21/90 


Unknown 


F 


3 


Cinnamon 


5/29/90 


Whitehorse Cr 


F 


11 


Black 


5/13/90 


Beaver Cr 


F 


6 


Brown 


10/20/90 


Beaver CR 


F 


1 


Black 


5/31/90 


Strawberry Cr 


F 


10 


Light Brown 


8/3/90 


Unknown 


M 


13 


Black 


9/1/90 


Browns Gulch 


F 


2 


Brown 


9/18/90 


McClellan Cr 


M 


2 


Brown 


9/3/90 


Beaver Cr 


M 


2 


Black 


9/20/90 


McClellan Cr 


F 


15 


Brown 


9/21/90 


Tizer Cr 


M 


9 


Dark Brown 


5/23/91 


Tin Cup Cr 


F 


12 


Dark Brown 


10/17/91 


Warm Springs Cr 


F 


- 


Black 


9/14/91 


Maupin Cr 


F 


- 


Brown 


9/21/91 


Prickly Pear Cr 


M 


- 


Black 



156 



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Trend surveys of wintering elk in the Elkhorn Mountains from 1960 to 1990. Number of elk represent the single highest count for 
each winter rarge during all winter surveys for the last year. 



Year 


South 
Crow 


North 

Crow 


Kimber 


Sheep 


Prickly 
Pear 


Devils 
Elkhorn 


Fence 


Total 


1960/61 


290 


56 










2 


348 


1961/62 


—284 












284 


196Z'63 


225 


82 










59 


366 


1963/64 


111 


135 










121 


367 


1964/65 


148 


69 










113 


340 


1965/66 


215 


95 










80 


390 


1966/67 


173 


137 


72 


114 






132 


628 


1967/68 


122 


147 


41 


51 


2 




74 


437 


1968/69 


No Surveys flown 


1969/70 


105 


61 


2 


43 






32 


243 


1970,71 


72 


79 


47 


54 








252 


1971/72 


127 


49 


57 








32 


265 


1972/73 


119 


97 


75 


51 




21 


32 


395 


1973/74 


135 


66 


107 


49 


10 




21 


388 


1974/75 


58 


128 


63 


85 




5 


53 


392 


1975/76 


102 


73 


63 


39 






26 


303 


1976/77 


113 


156 


53 


75 








397 


1977/78 








90 


50 


16 




156 


1978/79 


152 


60 


104 


16 






24 


356 


1979/80 


169 


155 


105 


68 


44 


12 


70 


623 


1980/81 


114 


108 


111 


117 


57 


42 


130 


679 


1981/82 


146 


200 


158 


166 


52 


6 


66 


794 


1982/83 


214 


259 


230 


216 


158 


14 


84 


1175 


1983/84 


243 


231 


202 


230 


151 


36 


131 


1224 


1984/85 


295 


277 


209 


259 


130 


55 


196 


1421 


1985/86 


228 


243 


213 


212 


129 


53 


164 


1242 


1986/87 


365 


236 


256 


251 


218 


56 


256 


1638 


1987/88 


401 


373 


223 


231 


239 


61 


240 


1768 


1988/89 


335 


402 


195 


193 


328 


49 


294 


1796 


1989/90 


402 


385 


174 


203 


301 


50 


269 


1784 


1990/91 


500 


389 


264 


257 


188 


100 


223 


1921 



158 



Elk hunting and harvest statistics from the statewide questionnaire for Hunting Distnct 880 from 1960 to 1990. AB = Antlered Bull. ES = Either Sex. 
A = Antlerless, BAB = Branch antlered Bull, BTB = Brow-tined Bull 



Year 


Season Type 


No. 
Hunters 


Hunter 
Days 


Ylfl. 

Bulls 


2 1/2 + 

Bulls 


Cows 


Calves 


Unknown 


1960 


AB(2 days ES) 


429 







7 


21 








1961 


AB(2 days ES) 


900 




46 


77 


107 


68 





1962 


AB(2 days ES) 


548 




14 


44 


14 








1963 


AB 


985 




— 130— 











1964 


AB(3 days ES) 


904 




34 


51 


107 


19 


2 


1965 


AB(2 days ES) 


728 




21 


68 


38 


29 





1966 


AB(1 day ES) 


899 




34 


45 


57 


56 





1967 


AB(70 ES) 


1,330 




102 


69 


33 








1968 


AB(3O0 ES) 


1,357 




41 


85 


22 


23 





1969 


AB(300 ES) 


1.785 




57 


222 


33 


23 





1970 


ABO 50 ES) 


1,659 




71 


46 


113 


9 





1971 


AB(150ES) 


1,900 


10.170 


38 


43 


38 


5 


18 


1972 


AB(150ES) 


2,199 


11,267 


38 


27 


35 


6 


8 


1973 


AB(150ES) 


1,963 


9,949 


81 


45 


60 


10 


14 


1974 


AB(100 ES) 


2.461 


15,148 


76 


39 


25 


5 


19 


1975 


AB(75 ES) 


2,575 


13,205 


66 


58 


18 


8 


19 


1976 


AB(75 ES) 


2.223 


13,274 


31 


48 


17 


2 


9 


1977 


AB(75 ES) 


2.542 


15,133 


95 


112 


36 


9 


15 


1978 


AB(75 ES) 


2.515 


13.643 


132 


48 


33 


5 


5 


1979 


AB(50 ES) 


2.440 


12.489 


94 


38 


15 


1 


6 


1980 


AB(50 ES) 


2.063 


9,364 


104 


90 


23 


4 


8 


1961 


AB(50 A) 


2.862 


17,477 


207 


117 


25 


5 





1982 


AB(50A) 


2,792 


15,762 


148 


74 


24 


3 





1983 


AB(155A) 


2,672 


17 334 


282 


89 


56 


21 





1964 


AB(180 A) 


2,678 


15,958 


320 


111 


100 


23 


2 


1985 


AB(230 A) 


3,054 


15,341 


176 


81 


111 


17 


1 


1986 


BAB(230 A) 


2,694 


14,822 


750 


39 


115 


19 





1987 


Spike only 
(250 A. 50 BAB) 


2,566 


15,883 


133 


38 


68 


14 





1988 


Spike only 
(250 A. 50 BAB) 


2,627 


16.189 


266 


59 


148 


25 





1989 


Spike only 
(300 A, 75 BTB) 


2,821 


18,326 


242 


60 


115 


18 





1990 


Spike only 
(300 A, 75 BTB) 


2,909 


17,314 


185 


70 


115 


17 






159 



MULE DEER 















Deer 


larvested statistics for Hunting District 880. 








SEASON TYPE 


TOT 


ANTERLESS KILL 


BUCK KILL 


%4pt.KILL 


NO 


YR 


E.S, 


BO. 


ANT 


KILL 


TOT 


MD 


WT 


TOT 


MD 


WT 


MD 


WT 


HUNTERS 


90 


w 


M 


200M 
100W 


1288 


336 


152 


184 


937 


694 


243 


50 


67 


3397 


89 


w 


M 


250M 
100W 


1206 


333 


178 


155 


873 


671 


202 


24 


43 


3146 


88 


w 


M 


350M 
100W 


1648 


436 


262 


174 


1212 


948 


264 


22 


54 


3263 


87 


w 


M 


400M 
200W 


1188 


372 


251 


121 


816 


579 


237 


22 


46 


3305 


86 


w 


M 


400M 
200W 


1349 


474 


269 


205 


875 


631 


244 


28 


39 


3184 


85 


w 


M 


400M 


1350 


348 


241 


107 


1002 


833 


169 


23 


56 


3419 


84 




B 


225M 
125W 


1636 


476 






1160 










3656 


83 




B 


150M 
75W 


1066 


214 






852 










2803 




82 




B 


75M 

25W 


1089 


47 






1042 










3086 


81 




B 


50M 


756 


16 






740 










2741 


80 




B 




618 









618 










2368 


79 




B 




401 









401 










2678 


78 




B 




477 









477 










2690 


77 




B 




569 









569 










2682 


76 




B 




298 


4 






294 










2574 


75 


1B 


IB 


ss 


430 


128 






302 










3104 


74 


1BW 






561 


200 






361 










3846 


73 


IB 






595 


268 






327 










2393 


72 


2B 






702 


248 






454 










2903 


71 








653 


190 






463 










2120 


70 








1182 


414 






768 










2011 





E.S. -Either Sex 
BO -Bucks only 
"A'-'A" permit 
'M'-mule deer 



SS -Split Season 

W-v»hrtetail 

B-8oth species 

2 E.S. =2 eiher sex/species 



WES-whitetail either sex 
MWES-muledeer whrtetail either sex 
W/4PM =whrtetail wrth 4 point mule deer 



160 



Mule deer population trend data for Hunting District 880. 



YEAR 


POP TREND 
SURVEY 


NO.DEER 
CLASSIFIED 


FAWN/ 
ADULT 


FAWN/ 
DOE 


BUCK/ 
DOE 


% YLG 
BUCKS 


% 2 1/2+ 
BUCKS 


90-91 


2357 


2357 




75.1 


8.1 


75 


25 


88-89 


194 


194 


43.7 


44.4 


1.5 






82-83 


1067 


997 


76.8 


80.9 


5.4 






81-82 


397 


397 


51 










80-81 


689 


356 


49 










1-80 


843 


570 


54 










79-80 


305 


283 


74.7 


76.6 


2.5 






78-79 


135 


130 


54.8 


65 


18.3 






77-78 


289 


249 


63.8 


73 


15.2 






76-77 


57 


45 


55.2 


59 


7.4 






50-51 


603 


603 


58.7 


66.8 


13.8 






49-50 


519 


519 


49.1 


65.5 


33.3 






48-49 


412 


396 


57.8 


76.7 


32.8 






47-48 


330 


261 


45.8 


64.1 


39.8 







161 









Antelope survey and harvest summary for HD 380.1975-1991. 








Survey 










Bucks 


% 


Fawns/ 












Type 


Bucks 


Does 


Fawns 


Total 


100 
Does 


Bucks 


100 

Does 


Fawns 


Permits 


Harvest 
11 


% 

Success 


1975 


TC 


29 


107 


63 


199 


27 


15 


59 


32 


50 


36/7/3 


98 


1976 


PC 


29 


64 


72 


165 


45 


18 


113 


44 


50 


32/8/4 


88 


1977 


PC 


18 


56 


45 


119 


32 


15 


80 


38 


50 


37/10/2 


96 


1978 


TC 


56 


150 


120 


326 


37 


17 


80 


37 


50 


37/5/2 


90 


1979 


PC 


22 


76 


64 


162 


29 


14 


84 


40 


50 


36/9/3 


100 


1980 


PC 


53 


167 


122 


341 


31 


16 


73 


36 


25 Arch 
50 E.S. 


1/0/0 
27/15/0 


7 
86 


1981 


TC 


109 


230 


160 


499 


47 


22 


70 


32 


25 Arch 
75 E.S. 


5/0/0 
49/15/6 


39 
96 


1982 


PC 


54 


163 


122 


320 


33 


17 


75 


38 


25 Arch 
75 E.S. 

75 D/F 


3/0/0 
64/6/0 
7/35/13 


20 
95 
97 


1983 


PC 


61 


127 


111 


299 


48 


20 


87 


37 


25 ARCH 
100 E.S. 
100 D/F 


0/1/0 
65/17/1 
11/57/7 


10 
87 
84 


1984 


TC 


227 


397 


331 


955 


57 


24 


83 


35 


25 Arch 
100 E.S. 
200 D/F 


1/0/0 
69/19/2 
7/135/11 


2 

& 
89 


1985 


PC 


77 


182 


89 


348 


42 


22 


49 


26 


25 Arch 
100 E.S. 
250 D/F 


1/1/0 
47/13/0 
13/144/9 


14 
74 
79 


1986 


PC 


114 


211 


81 


406 


54 


28 


38 


20 


25 Arch 
100 E.S. 
200 D/F 


5/0/0 
51/11/1 
7/115/14 


25 
69 
80 


1987 


TC 


107 


221 


129 


457 


48 


23 


58 


28 


25 Arch 
50 E.S. 
100 D/F 


3/1/1 
29/6/0 
3/47/8 


28 

78 
73 


1988 


PC 


32 


137 


115 


284 


23 


11 


84 


41 


25 Arch 
50 E.S. 

100 D/F 


0/1/0 
28/9/0 
1/52/4 


7 

79 
76 


1989 


PC 


67 


135 


75 


277 


50 


24 


56 


27 


35 Arch 
59 E.S. 
100 D/F 


3/1/0 
25/9/0 
5/46/4 


23 
72 
62 


1990 


TC 


135 


249 


126 


512 


54 


27 


51 


25 


25 Arch 
50 E.S. 
100 D/F 

50 E.S.2/ 


0/0/0 
28/1/2 
1/45/8 
38/4/0 



78 
67 
100 


1991 


PC 


81 


179 


132 


392 


45 


21 


74 


34 









1/ Bucks/Does/Fawns in harvest. 
2/ Private land, north portion) 



164 



Appendix G 
Specific information about individual furbearers 



Bobcat 



Life History : Bobcat breed from the middle of January through July. Females first breed between the first 
and second year of life while males tend to breed for the first time at two year olds. Gestation averages 
62 days with most births occurring in April and May. Litter sizes average 2.0 to 2.8 young. Young disperse 
during the fall to late winter. Resident males and females have fairly well defined home ranges with the size 
varying with the density of prey. Generally there are transient oobcats associated with a resident popula- 
tion. Female home ranges tend to not overlap other female home ranges but coincide with larger male 
home ranges. Densities in a trapped population in Idaho were 8.7 bobcats/100 km2 (Knick 1987). In this 
same study adult bobcats and their young showed little interchange between populations in mountain 
habitat and sagebrush/plains habitat. Bobcat populations do not appear to cycle as do lynx populations. 
However, increases and decreases do follow changes in prey availability. When jackrabbits, the preferred 
prey item in this region, decline, bobcats shift to other prey items such as cottontails and small rodents 
which may not meet dietary requirements of adult females for producing young. The result is a decrease 
in production and recruitment and a subsequent population decline. 

Habitat : Bobcats exhibit a wide adaptation to a variety of habitats including swamps, deserts, and mountain 
ranges; however, rock ledges are an important component of their habitat. The Elkhorns represent high 
quality bobcat habitat especially along the southeast portion of the range where there is an abundance 
of grassland/shrublands with natural rocky areas which are preferred den sites. Bobcats have been 
harvested over time around the entire periphery of the Elkhorns and harvest from this district (880) has 
been a consistent and major contributor to bobcat harvest in southwest Montana. 

Food Habits : Bobcats are opportunistic feeders with a diet that includes fish, insects, reptiles, amphibians, 
birds, and mammals. Bobcats will eat deer in the form of carrion but have also been known to kill deer. 
Knick (1 987) reported that in Idaho, jackrabbits represented 33 % of the summer diet when rabbits were 
abundant, and small mammals were the second most important food item. During the winter, cottontail 
rabbits were the primary prey comprising approximately 60 % of the diet. 

Management : Early management of bobcats consisted of a bounty system. In 1 951 , the bobcat in Montana 
was classified as a predator and there were no season dates or harvest limits. In 1 977, a limit of 2 bobcats, 
1 bobcat and 1 lynx, or 2 lynx per trapper was implemented. A state and regional quota system was initiated 
in 1 982 with a limit of 2 bobcats and 1 lynx per trapper. The region 3 (includes Hunting District 880) quota 
in 1991 was 100 bobcats with a 6 bobcats per trapper limit. Trappers are required to submit the pelt for 
tagging 72 hours after taking. Once the quota is reached in a region or statewide, the season ends on 48 
hours notice. 

Harvest surveys conducted annually are no longer done on a Hunting District basis, so long term harvest 
trends by Hunting District are not available. For the 1982 to 1985 period, harvest in Hunting District 880 
ranged from 1 9 to 32 bobcats and averaged 26. 

Pine Marten 

Life History : Male and female marten reach sexual maturity around the age of 1 5 months. Both sexes are 
polygamous. Mating generally occurs in mid summer. Gestation is 220-276 days with birth occurring in 
April. Litter size averages slightly less than 3 young and 1 litter is produced a year. Young are weaned 
around 6 weeks and separation from the adult female occurs at about 90 days during late summer or early 
fall. Home range size averages 2 to 3 km 2 for males and 1 km 2 for females. Males are territorial to other 
males but not females. Soutiere (1 978) studying marten in Maine found population densities of 1 .2 per km 2 
for residents in undisturbed and partially disturbed forests which dropped to 0.4 per km 2 in clear cut areas. 
In clear cut areas, home ranges were larger and there were fewer immature and transient marten. Marten 
are a fairly longed lived species with individuals having lived 1 5 years in captivity. 

Habitat : Marten are typically considered inhabitants of climax forests. While they prefer mature conifer or 
mixed forest stands, they are quite adaptable to a variety of forested habitats. In the West, marten most 

165 



frequently occur in mature spruce-fir forest communities especially during the winter. This is related to the 
reduced snow depth and higher densities of preferred prey in this community type. Meadows are usually 
avoided in the winter but are used for hunting during the summer. Den sites may include hollow trees, rock 
piles, logs, and tree roots. Squirrel nests and woodpecker cavities are also used as nesting sites. Marten 
use sites typically 1.7 meters or more above the ground in live trees for 'resting'. Martens apparently are 
intolerant of clearcuts. Soutiere (1978) found reduced use of clear cuts for up to 15 years. Clear cuts 
eliminated nesting sites, hunting sites, overhead cover, and caused alteration of the forest floor which 
negatively affected populations of preferred prey species. The disappearance of marten from much of it's 
native range has been attributed to the effects of fire and logging. However, wildfire and logging, if not too 
extensive, has the potential in some situations to improve marten habitat by improving shrub growth and 
increasing production of small mammals. Koehler (1975) found that low intensity fires and selective 
logging, where the remaining canopy coverage was greater than 30 %, did not adversely affect marten 
habitat use. 

Food Habits : Marten food items include small mammals, birds, insects, and fruits. Red-backed voles are 
particularly important during the winter. Birds, eggs, and insects are consumed in June and Jury, while 
fruits and berries are utilized later in the summer. Marten will also make use of carrion. Quick (1955) found 
that changes in small mammal densities affected the carrying capacity of an area for marten and mainly 
impacted adult females and juveniles since they have the highest energy requirements. Clem (1975) 
speculated that fisher and marten may compete for food during December through February. 

Management : Marten are easily trapped and can be over-harvested where trapping pressure is high. Pelt 
prices on marten tend to fluctuate less than most furs, but in 1 979 Canadian prices ran as high as $1 26.00 
per pelt. Marten can sustain a high degree of harvest where they occur in extensive and continuous (interior 
forest) habitat. Trap lines tend to have a limited distribution because of snowdepth and terrain. In situations 
with good habitat, areas adjacent to the trap line serve as a refuge where mainly the dispersing young are 
trapped on an annual basis. In Montana, trapping of martens was closed in the early 1940's and the first 
regulated season opened in 1946. The season closed again in 1952 and reopened in 1955. Regulations 
currently allow the trapping of marten from December 1 through January 31 with no limit. Marten do occur 
in the Elkhorns, but probably not at a very high densities due to limited suitable habitat. Harvest surveys 
indicated that 4 marten were trapped in the Elkhorns during the 1983-1984 season. 

Wolverine 

Life History : Wolverine are one of the largest members of the Mustalid Family, weighing 35 to 60 pounds. 
Females may breed at 15 months of age and produce the first litter at 2 years. Breeding occurs in the 
summer with delayed implantation. The period of active gestation after implantation is only 30 to 40 days, 
with most young being born in February or March; litter sizes average 3.5 young. Wolverine probably breed 
every other year. Wolverine are primarily nocturnal, nonmigratory, and do not hibernate. Home range size 
is large for both sexes with males in Idaho having a home range of 422 km 2 and 1 00 km 2 for postpartum 
females (Hornockerand Hash 1981). Males are territorial to other males and females are mutually intolerant 
(Krott 1959). Home ranges are greater in the winter than summer with lower elevations being used in the 
winter. This reflects the relative abundance and distribution of prey species. 

Habitat : Wolverine are primarily found in boreal forests and do well in regions with heavy snowfall which 
makes it easier to obtain large prey. In California, wolverine are found in Douglas Fir, mixed conifer, and 
lodgepole pine forest types (Schempf and White 1977). 

Food Habits : Wolverine utilize a variety of food items including birds, plants, small rodents, and ungulates 
which they are capable of killing or feeding on as carrion. 

Management : Montana has the highest wolverine copulation of any contiguous state. However, they were 
nearly extirpated from the s*3te by 1920. Wolve' e were able to reestablish themselves along the Conti- 
nental Divide during the 194 O's and 1950's proL^oly through dispersal from Canada and Glacier National 
Park. The current regulation allows trapping from December 1 through February 15. Harvest survey 
information indicated that in the Elkhorns, a female wolverine was trapped in Beaver Creek on January 22, 
1984. 



166 



Mink 

Life History : Mink have a distribution that includes most of North America. Sexual dimorphism is exhibited 
in mink, with males being 1.5 to 1.8 times heavier than females. Mink reach sexual maturity at 10 months 
of age and breeding occurs in February through April. During the breeding season males will travel widely 
seeking females for mating. The gestation period averages 51 days and young are born the last week of 
April through the middle of May. The average litter size is 4 young with litter break up occurring in early 
fall. Mink are mainly nocturnal. Home ranges measured in stream length are 2,630 meters for males and 
1,850 meters for females (Gerell 1970). Mink are not strictly territorial. 

Habitat : Mink inhabit wetland areas of all kinds including rivers, streams, lakes ditches, swamps, and 
marshes. Den sites consist of old beaver lodges and muskrat bank burrows or houses. 

Food Habits : Mink will eat anything they can find and kill. Food items include mammals, fish, birds, 
amphibians, insects, and reptiles. Because mink are tied to aquatic habitats, they are sensitive to pollutants 
in the food chain, especially mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls. 

Management : Harvest of mink in Montana was unregulated until a short season (November 1 - December 
31) was implemented m 1955. The current season runs from November 1 through December 31 and there 
is no limit. Harvest of mink in Hunting District 880 for the period 1978-1982 ranged from 14 to 155 animals. 
Harvest tends to fluctuate with the going price of pelts. Mink probably occur in the Elkhorns in some of 
the major drainages but most mink in Hunting District 880 are harvested along the major rfver drainages 
that surround the Elkhorns. 

Beaver 

Life History : Beaver numbers and distribution were greatly reduced during the days of the early fur trade. 
Regulated harvest and the transplanting of beaver into areas where they had been extirpated have allowed 
them to regain much of their native range (but not at historic numbers) which includes most of North 
America. The beaver is the largest rodent in North America reaching a maximum weight of 60 pounds. 
Beaver are highly adapted for swimming and have the ability to change blood parameters, heart rhythm, 
and circulation which in turn allows them to dive under water for up to 1 5 minutes. Their large incisors grow 
continuously and are sharpened by grinding the upper incisors against the lower incisors. Beaver are 
monogamous, have one litter a year, and normally produce their first litter at age three. Breeding occurs 
between January and March in cold climates and takes place in the water, under the ice, or in bank dens 
or lodges. Gestation averages 105 days and although litter size varies with the age of female, they typically 
produce 3 to 4 young. Colonial in nature, a family generally will consist of 1 adult breeding pair with 2 to 
4 kits from the previous springs litter, 2 to 3 yearlings, and occasionally 1 or more 2 year olds. The average 
colony consists of about 5 individuals. New colonies are established by dispersing 2-year old beaver, and 
typically are established from April to June in the spring and from August through September prior to winter 
food cache construction. Beaver are prey primarily for wolves, and coyotes; however, bears, wolverines, 
otter, lynx, bobcat, and mink also prey on beaver. 

Habitat : Beaver inhabit a variety of habitats including large rivers, impoundments, large lakes, and streams. 
Beaver prefer relatively flat terrain in fertile valleys that produce preferred winter foods. These type of areas 
are caoable of supporting high densities of beaver. Beaver are a 'keystone' wildlife species in that the 
action of dam construction creates impacts on other wildlife species through water storage, stabilization 
of steam flow, elevation of water tables, and erosion control. Pond complexes create abundant riparian 
vegetation and "edge", have diverse plant communities, and hence provide habitat for a variety of wildlife 
species. 

Food Habits : Beaver eat a variety of vegetation including leaves, bark, bud portions of branch ends, 
sprouts, and roots and fruits of woody plants. The most preferred genera of woody plants are aspen and 
willow. Where available, willow is the most important winter food item. Aspen is preferred by beaver at 
higher elevations and middle latitudes. 

Management : Beaver management can be very difficult because they are sought after for their commercial 
value, are valuable for restoration of riparian areas, and at the same time have a high potential to be a pest 

167 



in agricultural areas. Population trends are sometimes monitored by aerial cache counts and through 
harvest surveys. In Montana, beaver trapping was closed in most areas through the 1940's. In the mid 
1950's, the state went to area quotas and in the mid 1960's, there was unlimited trapping of beaver from 
October 15 through April 30. Crow Creek, in the Elkhorns was closed to beaver trapping in 1970 and 
reopened m 1974. The harvest and trapping pressure on beaver depends greatly on pelt prices. Annual 
surveys report harvest by major drainages. In the Missouri River near the Elkhorns, from 1980 through 
1 985, the harvest averaged 1 43 beaver annually. The current season on beaver in this area is a limit of 20 
beaver per trapper with the season running from November 1 through April 15. The public lands portions 
of Eagle Creek, Crow Creek, and Jenkins Gulch are currently closed to the trapping of beaver for the 
purpose of reestablishing and maintaining populations for riDarian enhancement. 

Otter 

Life History : Otter once had one the largest distributions of all North American mammals, but was extirpated 
over much of it's range in the early 1 900's. Trapping restrictions and restocking efforts in formerly occupied 
habitat has reestablished ma^y populations. Otter reach sexual maturity at 2 years of age, but males may 
not become successful breeaers until they are 5 to 7 years old. Breeding occurs during late winter to early 
spring. Males are solitary and do not form a pair bond with the female. Otter go through delayed 
implantation and the active period of pregnancy is about 50 days. The peak of parturition is March or April, 
and litter size ranges from 1 to 6 young. Young otter begin to swim at around 48 days, eat solid food at 
age 63 to 76 days, and are weaned at 90 days. Family groups may begin to disassociate around 3 months 
after weaning. Otter are most active from dawn to midmorning and during the evening throughout the year. 
The home range of a family group may be 7 km in diameter while that of a male is considerably larger. Males 
may travel 9 to 10 km per night. Territories centered around food sources are maintained within the home 
range and delineated by scraping and scent posts. Senses (tactile, visual, auditory, and smell) are highly 
developed in the otter. 

Habitat : Otter are adapted to a wide variety of aquatic habitats from marine environments to high mountain 
lakes. They are relatively abundant in major nonpolluted river systems and in lakes and the tributaries that 
feed them. 

Food Habits : Otter feed on fish, crayfish, amphibians, insects, birds, and mammals. Fish are used in 
proportion to their availability with larger slow moving fish like carp and suckers being favored. Waterfowl 
may be an important food source regionally. 

Management : Habitat destruction (ie. increased acidity of groundwater by mining operations and other 
development activity resulting in altering the habitat) has been the main threat to otter. In 1978, no state 
or Canadian province allowed the unregulated taking of otter. Oner are listed as species not currently 
threatened with extinction, but which may become threatened unless trade on them is subject to strict 
regulation by the Convention on International Trade In Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna 
(CITES). Most otter are harvested incidental to trapping other species, particularly beaver. In Montana the 
season on otter was closed from 1941 to 1956. In 1956 trapping was allowed with a limit of 1 otter per 
trapper and season dates were the same as the beaver season. This is also the current regulation. Most 
otter are trapped in November through December and the harvest consists of about 75 % males. During 
the period 1982-1986, an average of 3 otter were harvested from the major drainages surrounding the 
Elkhorns. 



168 



Appendix H 

Breeding Bird Survey 

Small Mammal Trapping Results 1980 



Breeding Bird Survey: 

1. Methods 

A total of nine routes was set up which included six different habitat groupings (Figure 1). Driving routes 
included Warm Springs, Weasel Creek, and the South Fork of Crow Creek areas. Walking routes were in 
the following drainages or characterized by these landmarks: Beaver Creek, Poe Park, Ballard Mine, 
McClellan Creek, Elk Park, and Bullock Hill. Stations were set up one mile apart on driving routes and 
one-fourth of a mile apart on walking routes. Surveys were begun one-half hour before sunrise. At each 
station the number and species of individual birds were identified by their songs and recorded during a 
two minute period. 

Each station was classified into one of six habitat groups. These groups were not definitive and in some 
cases overlap between groups probably existed. 
A brief description of each group follows: 

1. Riparian Forest - Conifer overstory with an understory of shrubs associated with riparian zones. An 
example would be the walking route along portions of Beaver Creek. 

2. Riparian Shrub - Shrub overstory associated with wet meadows and/or the riparian zone along creeks. 
An example would be the willow community along Wilson Creek. 

3. Forest Shrub - Conifer forest with an understory of various shrubs as ninebark and vaccinnium. Many 
of the stations along the walking routes were in this group. 

4. Forest Grassland - Conifer forest with a grass understory such as pine grass, also bunchgrass parks 
surrounded by conifers. 

5. Shrub Grasslands - Generally lower elevation grasslands with a shrub component such as sagebrush 
and/or juniper. 

6. Grasslands - Generally lower elevation grasslands with few shrubs. 

The following information includes trap dates, success, species, and other habitat notes for each trapline. 

2. Results 

A total of 51 bird species were recorded according to their songs along the nine different routes (Table 
X). Not all habitat groupings were sampled equally nor on the basis of their availability (Table Y). There were 
a total of 191 stations; forty percent were in the Forest/Grassland habitat group. Stations in the Shrub/ 
Grassland and the Grassland groups represented only six percent of the total number of stations. However, 
approximately 20% of all species identified were found in these two groups in spite of the low sampling 
intensity. The Riparian/Shrub habitat group contained only 1 5% of the stations but 67% of all species were 
found in this group. 

The six most common species found in each habitat grouping are listed in the order of their numerical 
abundance in Table Z. Most of the species in the riparian and forest types are repetitive but were more 
or less common depending on the habitat grouping. This may be somewhat real but is also related to the 
overlap in the groupings themselves. 



169 



Table 1. Breeding bird species identified in the Elkhorn Mountains, 1980 



Cooper's Hawk 


Hermit Thrush 


Red-Tailed Hawk 


Swainson's Thrush 


Golden Eagle 


Mountain Bluebird 


Blue Grouse 


Townsend's Solitare 


Ruffed Grouse 


Golden-Crowned Kinglet 


Mourning Dove 


Ruby-Crowned Kinglet 


Common Nighthawk 


Warbling Vireo 


Calliope Hummingbird 


Macgillivray's Warbler 


Common Flicker 


Yellow Warbler 


Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker 


Yellow-Rumped Warbler 


Hairy Woodpecker 


Wilson's Warbler 


Downy Woodpecker 


Western Meadowlark 


Western Flycatcher 


Brown-Headed Cowbird 


Olive-Sided Flycatcher 


Western Tanager 


Violet-Green Swallow 


Lazuli Bunting 


Tree Swallow 


Indigo Bunting 


Barn Swallow 


Evening Grosbeak 


Gray Jay 


Cassin's Finch 


Common Crow 


Vesper Sparrow 


Clark's Nutcracker 


Dark-Eyed Junco 


Black-Capped Chickadee 


Chipping Sparrow 


Mountain Chickadee 


White-Crowned Sparrow 


White-Breasted Nuthatch 


Song Sparrow 


Red Breasted Nuthatch 


Pine Siskin 


Brown Creeper 




American Robin 




Varied Thrush 




Common Raven 





Table 2. Sampling intensity in each habitat qroupinq. 






Grouping 


# Stations 


# Species 


% of Stations 
(N = 191) 


% of Species 
(N = 51) 


Riparian Forest 


38 


20 


20 


36 


Riparian Shrub 


29 


37 


15 


67 


Forest Shrub 


41 


26 


22 


32 


Forest Grassland 


72 


40 


38 


49 


Shrub Grassland 


6 


15 


3 


19 


Grassland 


5 


17 


3 


21 



170 



Table 3. The most common 


species in each habitat grouping, listed in the order of numerical abundance. 


Riparian 
Forest 


Riparian 
Shrub 


Forest 
Shrub 


Forest 
Grassland 


Shrub 
Grassland 


Grassland 


Pine 
Siskin 


Pine 
Siskin 


Dark 

Eyed 

Junco 


Pine 
Siskin 


Chipping 
Sparrow 


American 
Robin 


Dark 

Eyed 

Junco 


Warbling 
Vireo 


Pine 
Siskin 


Dark 

Eyed 

Junco 


Vesper 
Sparrow 


Vesper 
Sparrow 


American 
Robin 


American 
Robin 


American 
Robin 


American 
Robin 


Clark's 

Nut- 
cracker 


Chipping 
Sparrow 


Chipping 
Sparrow 


Dark 

Eyed 

Junco 


Chipping 
Sparrow 


Chipping 
Sparrow 


Warbling 
Vireo 


White 
Crowned 
Sparrow 


Yellow 
Rumped 
Warbler 


Chipping 
Sparrow 


Yellow 
Rumped 
Warbler 


Yellow 
Rumped 
Warbler 


Mountain 
Bluebird 


Cassln s 
Finch 


Warbling 
Vireo 


Yellow 
Rumped 
Warbler 


Warbling 
Vireo 


Clark's 

Nut- 
cracker 


Swainson 
Thrush 


Barn 
Swallow 



More inventory, using point sampling from survey stations located in one habitat, is needed to establish 
a more complete picture of breeding birds in the Elkhorns. In spite of the shortcomings of the 1 980 surveys, 
the primary objective of getting to know the land was achieved and some knowledge of birds that use the 
area was gained. If a complete list of breeding birds is achieved in the Elkhorns, it is cautioned that using 
birds as a monitoring item is no less difficult than collecting the initial baseline data. 

Small Mammal Trapping (1980) 

Small mammal trapping was conducted in the Helena National Forest portion of the Eikhorn Mountains in 
the fall of 1 980. Fifteen representative habitats were trapped according to procedures similar to that 
described by Calhoune (1948). Each trapline consisted of 20 stations, with 3 snap traps per station, 50 
feet between stations and success is defined as the number of small mammals caught per 1 00 trap nights 
and was calculated using the 1 80 trap night figure. 

Relative abundance and diversity of species present per habitat can be interpreted from the information 
collected. 

Nine species which included deer mice, red-backed voles, meadow voles, montane voles, longtail voles, 
masked and vagrant shrews, eastern chipmunk, and sagebrush voles were trapped in the Elkhorns. The 
9 species trapped are representative of the small mammals in the Elkhorns, but are probably not all of the 
species present. These 9 species are easily taken with snap traps, while other small mammals are not. 
Some small mammals have habitat requirements not incorporated in the traplines which were monitored. 

The information collected implies that wetter sites such as the spruce and riparian areas can withstand 
some grazing pressure and still maintain a diversity of small mammals. On drier sites which are heavily 
grazed by livestock, such as Montgomery Park, only 1 species was trapped. This compares to the relatively 
ungrazed with similar vegetation in Manley Park, which had 3 species present. 



171 



Two things which should be considered looking at this data: (1) cattle on some of the traplines snapped 
traps disrupting results, and (2) rodent populations are cyclic; what may be happening this year could be 
different from the next as well as what is happening on the north end of the Elkhorns could be different 
from the south end. 

Small Mammal Trapping: 

Summary of Small Mammal Trapping - Elkhorn Mountains 



Trapline 


A 


B 


C 


D 


E 


F 


G 


H 


I 


No. 
Species 
Trapped 
No./100 

T.N. 


1 








7 












1 3.9 


2 








4 












22.8 


3 






1 


3 












2 2.2 


4 


1 


3 


12 


5 












411.7 


5 








3 












117.8 


6 








17 


1 










210.0 


7 


1 






1 








3 


1 


43.3 


8 








2 


1 










21.7 


9 


1 




21 














212.2 


10 


3 


2 


4 


1 




2 


1 




1 


77.8 


11 


7 


1 










4 






36.7 


12 


5 


1 














8 


37.8 


13 






9 


2 












26.1 


14 












1 






2 


21.7 


15 






10 


17 












215.0 



A Sorex vagrans 

D Peromyscus maniculatus 
G Microtus pennsylvanicus 



B Sorex cinereus 

E Lagurus curtatus 

H Microtus longicaudus 



Clethrionomys 
gapperi 
F 

Eutamias 
I 

Mi- 
crotus 
montanus 



172 



Dates trapped 

9/10-12 (1) Montgomery Park - (Grazed meadow) 
Habitat Type - F/f 

Cover Type - Fescue, and a variety of forbs, indentification of plant 
species hampered by the over-grazed condition of area trapped 
Elevation - 6600' 
Aspect - West 

The only species caught was the deer mouse with a trap success of 
3.9/100 Trap Nights (T.N. ). This low success was possibly due to the 
over-grazed condition of the park resulting in a decrease in available 
food sources (seeds, insects) and also poor cover. Trapping was ham- 
pered by the presence of livestock which probably contributed to the 
high ration (53/180) of traps snapped during the trapping period. 

9/10-12 (2) Clear Cut 

Habitat Type - PSME/CARU 

Cover Type - Sparse lodgepole pine regenerating from a timber harvest 
about 10 years ago, Wood's rose, pinegrass, other unidentified grass- 
es and scattered slash 
Elevation - 6300' 
Aspect - West 

Two species were caught, the vagrant shrew and the deer mouse. Trap 
success was low (2.8/100 T.N.), possibly due to livestock trampling of 
the vegetation, thus limiting the habitat to some species of small mam- 
mals. 

9/10-12 (3) North Fork of Warm Springs Creek - (Poderosa Pine/grassland) 
Habitat Type- PSME/ARUV & PIPO/FESC 

Cover Type - Ponderosa pine overstory, with poor understory, due to 
granitic soil, of fescue and scattered snowberry 
Elevation - 5200' 
Aspect - SE 

Two species were caught, the deer mouse and the red-backed vole. 
Other species observed but not caught were the golden-mantled squir- 
rel and the red squirrel. 

9/17-19 (4) Campsite Hall Creek - (Douglas fir/pinegrass) 
Habitat Type - PSME/CARU 

Cover Type - Douglas fir overstory with an understory of pine- 
grass, Oregon grape, and scattered snowberry 
Elevation - 6000' 
Aspect - Flat 

Four species were caught, masked and vagrant shrews, deer mouse 
and red-backed vole. The trapline was set approximately 100 feet from 
and parelleling Hall Creek. 

9/17-19 (5) Hall Creek Road - (Sagebrush) 
Habitat Type - At/F 

Cover Type - Sagebrush with sparse fescue understory 
Elevation - 5500' 

Aspect - Flat - (bench above Crow Creek) 

The only species caught was the deer mouse with a trap success of 
17,8/100 T.N., which was the highest success ratio of all the traplines. 
However, the fact that only 1 species was caught is possibly indicative 
of the lack of diversity of the habitat. 



173 



9/17-19 (6) Weston Creek - (Juniper/grassland) 
Habitat Type - PIFL/AGSP 

Cover Type - Rocky mountain juniper, scattered sagebrush and a 
ground cover of blue bunch wheatgrass and various dry site forbs 
Elevation - 5500' 
Aspect - SW 
Two species were caught, the deer mouse and 1 sagebrush vole. 

9/19-19 (7) Jenkins Gulch - (Riparian zone) 
Habitat Type - PSME/CARU phase 

Cover Type - Diverse age aspen overstory with a Wood's rose, snow- 
berry, willow and several unidentified plant species understory 
Elevation - 5600' 
Aspect - NE 

Four species were trapped, the vagrant shrew, deer mouse, long-tailed 
vole and montane vole. The trap success rate was only 3.3 /100 T.N., 
possibly indicating that habitat diversity exists but not in sufficient 
quantity to support a more dense population of the above species. 
Livestock grazing has a detrimental effect on the habitat where the 
trapline occurred. 

9/17-19 (8) Jenkins Gulch - (Grassland) 
Habitat Type - F/At 

Cover Type - Fescue and a variety of dry-site forbs 
Elevation - 6000' 
Aspect - NW 

Two species were trapped, the deer mouse and the sagebrush vole. 
The trap success was 1.7/100 T.N., which along with the Subalpine 
Meadow trap line (14) was the lowest success of all traplines. Cattle 
grazing the area probably contributed to the high number of snapped 
traps (55/180), which could have lowered trap success. 

9/25-27 (9) Tizer Basin - lodgepole/Vaccinium 
Habitat Type - ABLA/VASC 

Cover Type- Lodgepole overstory with a grouse whortleberry and pine- 
grass understory 
Elevation - 6900' 
Aspect - Flat 
Two species were caught, 1 vagrant shrew and 21 red-backed voles. 

9/25-27 (10) Tizer Basin - (Spruce overstory) 
Habitat Type - ABLA/CACA 

Cover Type - Englemann spruce overstory with an understory of willow, 
sedges, pinegrass and groundsel 
Elevation - 6900' 
Aspect - Flat 

The trapline was set along a small, slow flowing spring. Seven species 
were caught (See Table I), which was the highest diversity of all 
traplines. Areas along the trapline showed signs of past heavy livestock 
grazing evidently the complexity of this habitat was such as to provide 
various habitat requirements for the variety species caught. 

9/25-27 (11) Tizer Basin - (Marsh) 
Habitat Type - W/C 

Cover Type - Willow and scattered spruce overstory and sedge and 
mountain brome understory 



174 



Elevation ■ 6900' 

Aspect - Flat 

Three species were caught, vagrant and masked shrews and meadow 

vole. 

9/25-27 (12) Tizer Basin - (Manley Park (ungrazed meadow)) 
Habitat Type - F/f 

Cover Type - Fescue, scattered creeping juniper and a variety of forbs 
Elevation - 7000' 
Aspect - South 

Three species were caught, vagrant and masked shrews and the mon- 
tane vole. 

10/1-3 (13) Elkhom - Crow Peak Saddle - (Krummholz) 
Habitat Type - Talus 

Cover Type - White bark pine and subalpine fir overstory and grouse 
whortleberry understory 
Elevation - 8900' 
Aspect - SW 
Two species were caught, the red-backed vole and deer mouse. 

10/1-3 (14) Sub Alpine Meadow 
Habitat Type - Talus 

Cover Type - Scattered rocky mountain juniper, subalpine fir, sedges, 
mountain heath and several forbs 
Elevation - 8800' 
Aspect - NW 

This trapline was set approximately 0.25 mile above the Iron Mine 
through a meadow to the ridge below Elkhorn Peak. Two species were 
caught, chipmunk and the montane vole. 

10/1-3 (15) Talus 

Habitat Type - Talus 

Cover Type - Talus isolated patches of juniper and unidentified grass 

species. 

Elevation - 8800' 

Aspect - NW 

Two species were trapped, the deer mouse and red-backed voles for 

a trap success of 15/100 T.N. , which was the second highest success 

of all traplines. 



175 



Appendix I 
Recreation Opportunity Spectrum 

The following information is taken from the 1990 USDA-FS publication enti- 
tled "ROS primer and field guide". 

The end product of recreation management, is a function of setting, the type 
of activity and managerial setting to provide user expreience. Setting indica- 
tors include; access, remoteness, naturalness, facilities and site manage- 
ment, social encounters, visitor impacts, and visitor management. 

Access includes the type and mode of travel. Highly developed access 
generally reduces the opportunities for solitude, risk, and challenge; howev- 
er, it can enhance other opportunities and provide safety and comfort. All 
kinds of access are permitted in Roaded Natural (RN) settings including 
motorized trails and primitive roads. However, closures may also be pre- 
scribed in certain circumstances. Motorized trails and primitive roads are 
incompatible within the Semi-Primitive Non-Motorized (SPNM) setting. 

Remoteness is described as the extent to which individuals perceive them- 
selves removed from the sights and sounds of human activity. It is generally 
expressed in terms of sights and sounds within a certain distance of a 
motorized road. Remoteness is of most importance within the SPNM setting 
in the Elkhorns. 

Social encounters refer to the number and type of other recreationists met 
along travelways. Increasing the number of visitors to an area changes the 
kind of recreation experience offered, attracting new users, and causing 
others to leave. In a SPNM setting, less than 6 party contacts/day is consid- 
ered compatible. Within the Semi-Primitive Motorized (SPM) setting, 6-15 
parties met per day is considered compatible, and in a RN setting, moderate 
to high encounters along roads and at developed sites is compatible. 

The degree to which visitors are regulated and controlled, and the services 
and information provided for visitor enjoyment are included in the category 
of visitor management. Subtle on-site control, and very limited information 
facilities are compatible within the SPNM and SPM settings. Simple informa- 
tion facilities that harmonize with the environment, rustic facilities that provide 
for both comfort and site protection, and on site controls are compatible 
within the RN setting. 

The existing ROS situation in the Crow Watershed area of the Elkhorns is 
given below. 



Parameter 


Roaded Natural 


Semi-Prim. Motorized 
SP-Non-Motorized 


Area 


53,000 acres 


17,300 acresl 8,000 
acres 


Capacity 


unknown 


unknownunknown 


Access 


motorized 


motorizednon-motorized 


remoteness 


no designation 


no designationno desig- 
nation 



176 



Parameter 


Roaded Natural 


Semi-Prim. Motorized 
SP-Non-Motorized 


facilities and site de- 
velopment 


none 


nonenone 


social encounters 


no delineation 


no delineationno delin- 
eation 


visitor impacts 


no site hardening 


no site hardeningno site 
hardening 


visitor management 


no regimentation 


no regimentationno regi- 
mentation 



177 



Appendix J 
Visual Management System 

The Visual Management System provides the framework within which to 
inventory the visual resource. Visual quality objectives (VQO's) provide mea- 
surable standards for the visual management of National Forest lands. 
VQO's can be considered as visual resource management goals. 

Landscape Variety Class, Variety level, Sensitivity level 

Landscape variety class, sensitivity level and viewing distance are criteria 
used to determine VQO's. Three variety classes are used to identify the 
scenic quality of the natural landscape: 

Class A - Distinctive (unusual or outstanding visual 
quality) 

Class B - Common (common to characteristic land- 
scape; not outstanding) 

Class C - Minimal (areas with little change in form, 
line, color, texture) 

The Crow area is within the Broad Valley Rockies Subregion (landscape 
character type). 

Sensitivity levels are a measure of people's concern for scenic quality. Three 
sensitivity levels are employed, each identifying a different level of user 
concern for the visual environment: 

Level 1 - Highest Sensitivity 
Level 2 - Average Sensitivity 
Level 3 - Lowest Sensitivity 

Distance Zones 

Distance zones are divisions of a particular landscape being viewed. The 

three distance zones are: 

FOREGROUND - from mi. - 1/4-1/2 mile* 
MIDGROUND - 1/2 mi. - 3-5 miles* 
BACKGROUND - 3-5 Ml. - infinity 

* Exact limit of zone depends upon the distances at 
which details can be perceived. 

Visual Quality Objectives 

The Visual Quality Objectives (VQO'S) in the Visual Management System are 
as follows: 

Preservation (P): ecological changes only are allowed. 

Retention (R): management activities will not be visually 

evident. 

Partial Retention (PR): management activities will remain "visually 

subordinate* to the characteristic land- 
scape. 

Modification (M): management activities may visually domi- 

nate the original characteristic landscape; 

178 



Maximum 
Modification (MM): 



however, activities of landform alteration 
must 'borrow* from naturally established 
form, line, color and texture. 

management activities may visually domi- 
nate the original characteristic landscape. 
However, activities of vegetative and land 
form alteration must borrow from naturally 
established form, line, color, or texture so 
completely and at such a scale that its 
visual characteristics are those of natural 
occurrences within the surrounding area 
or character type. 



Unacceptable Modification: 



Excessive modification, or 
what not to do to any land- 
scape regardless of the dis- 
tance from which the man- 
agement activity may be 
observed. One or more of 
the following characteristics 
are indicative of unaccept- 
able modification: 



Size of activities is excessive 
or poorly related to scale of 
landform and vegetative pat- 
terns in the characteristic 
landscape. 

Overall extent of manage- 
ment activities is excessive. 

Activities or facilities that 
contrast in form, line, color, 
or texture are excessive. All 
dominance elements in the 
management activity are vi- 
sually unrelated to those in 
the characteristic landscape. 



179 



Appendix K 
Scientific and Common plant and animal names 



COMMON NAME 



SCIENTIFIC NAME 



Alder 

Black henbane 

Black sagebrush 

Bitterbrush 

Bitteroot 

Bluebunch wheatgrass 

Blue grama 

Bull thistle 

Camas 

Canada thistle 

Chokecherry 

Common juniper 

Cottonwood 

Curlleaf mountain mahogany 

Currant 

Dalmation toadflax 
Diffuse knapweed 
Dogwood shrub 
Douglas fir 

Idaho fescue 
Leafy spurge 
Limber pine 
Lodgepole pine 
Mountain big sagebrush 

Musk thistle 
Pinegrass 

Ponderosa Pine 

Quaking aspen 

Rocky Mountain juniper 

Rough fescue 

Sagebrush 

Snowberry 

Spotted knapweed 

Spruce 

Tufted hairgrass 

Western wheatgrass 
Whitebark pine 
Wild rose 
Willow 



Alnus incana 
Hyoscyamus niger 
Artemisia arbuscula 
war. nova 
Purshia tridentata 
Lewisia pygmaea 
Agropyron spicatum 
Bouteloua gracilis 
Cirsium Vulgare 
Camassia Quamash 
Cirsium arvense 
Prunus virginiana 
Juniperis Communis 
Populus trichocarpa 
Cercocarpus ledifoli- 
us 

Ribes spp. 
Linaria Dalmatica 
Centaurea diffusa 
Cornus canadensis 
Pseudotsuga men- 
ziesii 

Festuca idahoensis 
Euphorbia esula 
Pinus flexilis 
Pinus contora 
Artemisia tridentata 
var. vaseyana 
Carduus nutans 
Calamagrostis 
rubescens 
Pinus ponderosa 
Populus tremuloides 
Juniperus scopularum 
Festuca scabrella 
Artemisia spp. 
Symphoricarpos al- 
bus 

Centaurea maculosa 
Picea spp. 

Deschampsia cespi- 
tosa 

Agropyron smithii 
Pinus albicaulis 
Rosa woodsii 
Salix spp. 



Antelope 



Antilocapra 
cana 



amen- 



180 



Badger 
Beaver 

Bighorn Sheep 
Bison (plains) 
Black Bear 
Black footed ferret 
Bobcat 
Civet Cat 
Cottontail Rabbit 
Coyote 
Deer mouse 

Elk 

Fisher 
Grizzly Bear 
Hoary marmot 
Jackrabbit 
Longtail voles 
Lynx 
Marten 
Marmot 
Masked shrew 
Meadow vole 
Mink 
Mountain goat 

Mountain lion 

Mule deer 

Northern Bog Lemming 

Otter 

Pika 

Porcupine 

Racoon 

Red-blacked vole 

Red fox 

Sagebrush vole 

Skunk 

Swift fox 

Townsend's big-eared bat 

Weasel 

Wolverine 

Wolves 



Taxidea taxus 
Castor canadensis 
Ovis canadensis 
Bison bison 
Ursus americanus 
Mustela nignpes 
Lynx rufus 
Spilogale putorius 
Sylvilagus nuttalli 
Canis latrans 
Peromysus manicula- 
tus 

Cervus elaphus 
Manes pennanti 
Ursus horribilis 
Marmota caligata 
Lepus townsendi 
Microtus longicaudus 
Lynx canadensis 
Manes americana 
Marmota flaviventris 
Sorex cinereus 
Microtus longicaudus 
Mustela vision 
Oreamnos ameri- 
canus 

Felis concolor 
Odocileus hemionus 
Synaptomys borealis 
Lutra canadensis 
Ochotona princeps 
Erethizon dorsatum 
Procyon lotor 
Clethrionomys gap- 
peri 

Vulpes vulpes 
Lagurus cunatus 
Mephitis mephitis 
Vulpes velox 
Plecotus townsendii 
Mustela erminea 
Gulo gulo 
Canis lupus 



181 



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Appendix M 
Glossary 

Alkalinity - total of the components in water that tend to elevate the pH of the water above a value of about 
4.5. 

Allotments - an area designated for the use of a prescribed number of domestic livestock, for a prescribed 
period of time. 

Alluvial - pertaining to processes or materials associated with transportation or deposition by running 
water. GT 

Alluvium - unconsolidated material deposited by running water, including gravel, sand, silt, clay, and 
various mixtures of these. GT 

Area closure - Under the code of federal regulations an area closture refers to the closure of an area 
adjacent to a trail or road. The road or trail remains open but any travel off the road or trail is prohibited. 
Closures are usually enforced for wildlife security. 

AUM - Animal Unit Month, the amount of feed or forage required by an "animal-unit" for one month. 

Barren - incapable of producing offspring. 

Batholith - intrusive igneous rocks with bedrock surfaces greater than 100 sq km. and no known bottoms. 

Biological Diversity - the variety of life and its many processes. It includes all of the countless life forms 
and the pathways, processes, and cycles that link organisms into populations, communities, and ecosys- 
tems. 

Biomass - the amount of living matter, as in a unit area or volume of habitat. 

Boles - trunk of a coniferous tree. 

Breeding birds - birds that perform sexual displays and copulate. 

Breeding bird surveys - monitoring method of census to determine presence or absence of songbird 
species during the breeding season. 

Browse - young twigs and leaves of woody plants consumed by wild and domestic animals. 

Canopy cover - the degree of canopy closure, expressed as a percentage and using "closed canopy' as 
unity. 

Carbohydrate - Organic compounds composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen including sugars, 
starches and celluloses. 

Cirque - a semi-circular, concave and bowl-like area with steep faces resulting primarily from glacial ice 
and snow abrasion. GT 

Climax plant species - Species usually present only as members of a climax community. 

Closure - to prevent access or entrance through regulation and/or physical barrier into a given area, on 
a road or on a trail. 

Coarse filter analysis - an assessment of biological diversity which compares the natural composition and 
processes of landscapes, ecosystems, and communities, to the existing conditions. 



193 



Cobbly - soils containg appreciable quantities of cobblestones (rouned or partially rounded rock) or 
mineral fragments between 8 and 25 cm in diameter. 

Cobbly clay - containing appreciable quantities of cobblestones. 

Commerlclal forest land - land that is suitable for timber harvest. 

Colonization of conifers- Establishing of conifer species in areas that had previously supported grass or 
brush habitat types. 

Compaction - soils that have parts or units that are closely packed or joined. 

Conductivity - the resistence of water to the transfer of electricity. It is related to turbidity. 

Coniferous- large group of cone-bearing trees and shrubs, mostly evergreen. 

Convex - a slope that generally increases in gradient downslope. 

Corridors - an areas through which species can move from one place to another over time in response 
to changes inenviornment or as natural parts of their life history (eg. migration). 

Cultivation- To prepare and use land for growing crops. 

Cultural - of or pertaining to culture, which is the regularized, patterned, learned behavior shared by 
members of an interacting social group and passed from generation to generation, comprising the group's 
technology, economy, religion, arts, social orgranization and more. 

Cultural Resource - a definite location of past human activity, occupation or use identifiable through field 
inventory (survey), historical documentation, or oral evidence. 

Custodial Management - characterized by "watching" or protecting rather than active management or 
alteration of the landscape. 

Deciduous- shedding leaves annually 

Decomposition - the process of resolving into constituent parts. Mineral elements are generally among 

the terminal products. 

Deep tap root system- a single root that is characterized by a shallow root system that spreads evenly 

away from the plant crown. 

Deferred rotation- a grazing system where at least one portion of theallotment remains ungrazed from the 
breaking of dormacy until after seedset. 

Defoliator - to cause loss of leaves prematurely. 

Dendritic - drainage pattern in which the streams branch irregularly in all directions and at almost any 
angle, resembling the branching habit of some trees (oaks, maples). This pattern is produced where the 
master stream receives several tributaries. GT 

Desired Condition - a consise statement that describes the status of resources across the landscape to 
be achieved in a time frame of about fifty years. Desired conditions are exoressed as specifically as present 
knowledge allows. 

Desired Future Condition - consise statement that describes a desired condition of the land to be 
achieved sometime in the future. It is normally expressed i broad general terms and is timeless in that it 
has no specific date by which it is to be implemented. 



194 



Detrimental displacement - soil displacement is the horizontal movement of soil from one place to another 
by mechanical forces. Deterimental displacement is the removal of the lesser of 3 icnches or 50 percent 
of the topsoil or humus-enriched surface soil on an area 5 feet wide or more. (FSH 4/89 SUPP 1 Soil 
Management Handbook) 

Developed recreation - a type of recreation that allows facilities for convenience, security and safety. It 
is generally a designated area or site. 

Diffuse root system- a root system that is characterized by a shallow root system that spreads evenly away 
from the plant crown. 

Dispersed recreation - a type of recreation that requires a variety of sites yet needs no special facilities. 

Disturbance species- Plant species that normally become dominate following a disturbance (fire, soil 
movement, continued over-use). 

Dormancy - Stage of not vegetating. 

Downcuttlng - a process that may accompany the removal of vegetation from along a streams' banks, and 
results in excessive channelization. 

Dredge and dragline - A dredge is a piece of equipment that is used to excavate material (in this case 
placer gravel material) where water is involved. Ponds are built to float the dredge. The dredge excavates 
"wef material from the bottom or sides of the pond and processes it to remove the gold. A dragline is a 
type of excavating equipment that is mounted on tracks, thus it operates on dry land. The bucket for 
excavating is attached to a boom by a cable. The dragline operates by lengthening the cable to extend 
the bucket to the area to be excavated. The cable is then 'reeled in" by the dragline, causing the bucket 
to dig and excavate. Draglines have been noted to be efficient dirt movers in certain operations setups. 

Duff depths - the depth of the combination of litter and the less decomposed humus on the forets floors. 

Ecological Landscape Units - hierarchical units which are used to identify an aggregate of geographically 
and functionally connected ecosystems. The ecosystems have predictable responses to natural process- 
es. 

Ecosystem - all of the interacting populations of plants, animals, and microorganisms occupying an area 
considered together with their habitats and environments. 

Ecotone - the transition zone found at the edge between ecosystems; has characterisitics of each 
ecosystem and may have characteristics of its own. 

Elk Vulnerability - a measure of elk suspeptibility to being killed during the hunting season. 

Endemic - native or confined to a certain region; having a comparatively restricted distribution. 

Epidemic - affecting many trees within a population, community or region. 

Episodes - an event that is distinctive and separate although part of a larger series. 

Equilibrium - a state of balance between opposing forces or actions that is either static or dynamic. 

Erosion - the weaning away of the land by running water, wind, ice or other geological agents. 

Evapotranspiration - the combined loss of water from a given area, and during a specified period of time, 
by evaporation from soil surface and by transpiration from plants. Loss of soil mositure thru evaporation 
and plant transpiration. 



195 



Existing Condition - the action or present state of affairs. A product of the natural range of variation. 

Exotic species - species not native to an area in which it is found. 

Fall Green Up - Plants vegetative response to decreasing day length, temperatures and increasing soil 
mositure. 

Fauna - animals of a given region. 

Fire Groups - a grouping of habitat types based upon similar fire behavior characteristics thatinclude; fire 

intensity and frequency. 

Fire Scars - scar tissue that is the result of fire passage that does not kill the entire tree. 

First and Second Order Streams - (first) normal floodplain of a stream; (second) first terrace above the 
normal flood plain of a stream. 

Fluvial - pertaining to or produced by the action of a stream or river. 

Food Habits - customary practice of specific food intake. 

Forest Plan Management Areas - areas identified in Forest Plans which have unique management goals, 
resource objectives, and limitations. Boundaries represent a transition from one set of opportunities and 
constraints to another with management direction established for each. 

Four Wheel Drive - a motorized vehicle designed for off road use, some may be licensed for roads and 

highway. 

Fragmentation - transformation of a continuous expanse of habitat into a number of smaller, disjunct 
patches isolated from each other within a matrix of habitats unlike the original. 

Fuel Ladder - the vertical orientation of fuel such that the upward movement of flames from the surface 
is enhanced. 

Fuel Loadings - the amount of fuel on site that is available for combustion. This is usually measured in tons 
per acre. 

GAP Analysis - a method of looking a biological diversity where 'gaps' in the habitats needed to sustain 
communities of native species are identified through mapping tools. 

Geologic Erosion - the normal or natural erosion caused by geological processes acting overlong 
geological periods. This is the wearing away of the earth's surface by water, ice or other natural agents 
under natural environmental conditions of climate, vegetation, etc. undisturbed by man. 

Geologic Time Frames - Tens of thousands to tens of millions of years. For example, the Pleistocene 
occurred over a period of 1 00,000 years, whereas, the deposition of the Precambrian rocks in the Big Belt 
Mountains occurred over a period of nearly a billion years. 

Glacial Till - unsorted and unstratified glacial drift, generally unconsolidated, deposited directly by a glacier 
without subsequent reworking by water from the glacier, and consisting of a heterogeneous mixture of clay, 
snd, gravel and boulders varying greatly in size and shape. 

Glacial Troughs - a pre-glacial valley commonly transformed by ice erosion into a straightened course 
characterized by steep, concave side slopes of high relief. 



196 



Graminolds - grass or grasslike plants. 

Ground Cover - the combined aerial parts of plants and mulch for shelter and protection of animals and 
birds. 

Groundwater Recharge - subsurface water that is in the zone of saturation. The top surface of the ground 
water is the "water table'. Source of water for wells, seepage and springs. 

Guilds - a functional category used for combining species that significantly overlap in their utilization of 
a particular resource. 

Habitat - environmental conditions with which species rest, breed and reside. 

Habitat Generalist and Specialists - species that has broad habitat requirements; species with narrow 
specific habitat requirements. 

Habitat Type - a vegetation classification system based on land areas potenially capable of producing 
similar plant cimmumties at climax. Each habitat type represents a relatively narrow segment of environ- 
mental variation and delineates a certain potential for vegetative development. (Daubermire 1968, Pfister 
et al. 1983). 

Heartwood - the inner core of a woddy stem. Wholly composed of nonliving cells and usually differentiated 
from the layer of sapwood by its darker color. 

Heavy Metals - concentrations of metal ions in water, includes such metals as cadmium, lead, zinc, copper, 
arsenic and iron, to name a few. 

Herbaceous Biomass- The total weight of the grass component in a biological system. 

Herblvory - Grazing of herbaceous vegetation 

Herd Segment - part of an assemblage of animals usually of the same species. 

Herd Unit - group of ungulates that travel and occupy a similar geographic area. 

Historic - period of time from 1850 to 1980 or present. 

Holocaust - a fire event that is of significant intensity that all tress are killed. Flames can be 50 to 300 feet 
in length. 

Homogeneous - uniform structure or composition throughout a soil type. 

Hummocky - soils organic matter remaining after the major portions of added plant and animal residues 
have decomposed. 

Hydraulic Mining - a form of mining that uses water as a power source. 

Hydrlc Soil - a soil that is saturated, flooded, or ponded long enough during the growing season to develop 
anaerobic conditions in the upper part of the soil profile. 

Hydrophytes - any macrophyte that grows in water or on a substrate that is at least periodically deficient 
in oxygen as a result of excessive water content; plants typically found in wetlands and other aquatic 
habitats. 



197 



Hydrologic - prope ties, distribution and circulation of water. 

Ignitions - combustion of fuels begins, which can be the result of lighting, or a person caused source. 

Incised (Incision)- this refers to the degree of channelization characteristic to streams within different 
geologic/landform categories. 

Igneous Intrusive - rocks evolving form molten material cooled from molten masses beneath the earth's 
surface. 

Inclusion - a soil or miscellaneous land area within a delineation of a map unit that is not identified by the 
map unit name; i.e., is not one of the named compenent soils or named miscellaneous area components. 
Such soils or areas are either too small to be delineated separately without creating excessive map or 
legent detail, or coour too erratically to be consdiered a compoenent, or are not identified by practically 
mapping methods. SS 

Indigenous - species having originated in and being produced, growing or living naturally in a particular 
region or environment. 

Infiltration Rate - the rate at which water enters the soil. It has the dimensions of velocity (ie. 
m3m-3s-1=ms-1). 

Influence Zone of a Stream- The area adjacent to a stream which, depending upon the streams' width 
and gradient, may have hydric soils and riparian vegetation due to associated high water tables. 

Intermittent - a stream that ordinarily goes dry at one or more times during the year but sustains flows for 
some period. 

Intrusive - rock or rock materials having been forced while in a plastic state into cavities or between layers. 

Invertebrates - an animal lacking of a spinal column. 

Keystone Species - a pivotal species upon which a large part of the community depends (i.e. beaver which 
creates habitat type that some other species depend on). 

Landform - a three-dimensional part of the land surface, formed of soil, sediment, or rock that is distinctive 
because of its shape, that is significant for land use or to landscape genesis, that repeats in various 
landscapes, and that also has a fairly consistent position relative to surrounding landforms. 

Landtype Associations - landtype associations are physical landscape units which determine or interact 
with ecosystem processes and biological responses. Landtype associations for the Elkhorns were devel- 
oped by grouping landtypes of similar bedrock geology, landform, landscape position and vegetative 
expression. They were developed to provide physical reference points of landscape units with characteris- 
tics that determine/or interact significantly with dominant ecosystem processes and biological responses. 

Linkages - characteristics of a landscape that provide direct physical connections between two or more 
places. 

Litter - the uppermost layer of organic debris on the ground under a vegetation cover. 

Loamy-Skeletal - soils intermediate in texture and properties between fine-textured and coarse-textured, 
marginally developed, 
soil mantle (soils) 

Loess - material transported and deposited by wind and consisting of predominantly sllted-sized particles. 

Mass-Wasting - the movement of a large area of soil due to steepness of the site, inherent instability of 
the material, or excessive removal of vegetative cover. 

198 



Merlstems - undifferential plant tissue, consisting of cells actively growing and dividing, as at the tips of 
roots and stems. 

Mlcrosltes - small scale, local differences in site potential. 

Mineralization - the conversion of an element from an organic form to an inorganic state as a result of 
microbal decomposition. inerals) 

Minerological - amounts of minerals present in a rock or soil. 

Moraines - an extensive, fairly even layer of till with an undulating surface; a deposit of rock debris dragged 
along, in, on and beneath a glacier and emplaced by processes including basal lodgement and release 
from downwating stagnant ice (by ablation). GT 

Mosaic - a random distribution of dissimilar habitats. 

Multi-storied - stands with two or more distinct tree layers in the canopy. 

■Natural* - the conditions characterized by the time period preceding settlement of an area by EuroAmeri- 
cans (as opposed to Native Americans). 

Natural Disturbance Regimes - Processes and events of nature such as floods, fires, windstorms, insect 
infestations and disease epidemics cause varying degrees of disturbance to ecosystem components 
(vegetation, soilsm wildlife, etc.) In some cases these events occur in repeatable cycles over similar time 
intervals; others, such as windstorms may occur at irregular, unpredictable intervals. In either case these 
events and processes together constitute the natural distrubance regime' of any given ecosystem. 

Natural Processes - processes which occurr on the landscape prio to the influence of European man. 

Natural Variability - Relation between frequency and natural disturbance, eg. fire, wind, and other small 
to more common large disturbances and the effect these disturbances have on individual plants and 
animals, communities, and ecologicaly systems. 

Niche - peculiar arrangement of food cover and water that meets the requirements of a particular species. 

Nomadically - without a fixed pattern of movement; wandering from place to place usually seasonally within 
a defined territory in order to secure a food supply. 

Nongame - all wild terrestrial veterbrates not subject to sport hunting. 

Nonsystem road - a road or trail that is not inventoried or assigned a number. It generally receives no 
maintenance. 

Nutrient cycling - nutrients, or chemicals associated with energy flow, are reused within the ecosystem 
indefinately-once they are released from their association with energy in an organic molecule, they are 
returned to the nonliving part of the ecosystem, where they may again become available for uptake plants. 

Organic soil - a soils which contains a high percentage ( > 1 50 to 200g kg-1 ) of organic matter throughout 
the solum. 

Organic soil materials - soil materials that are saturated with water and have 1 74 g kg-1 or more organic 
carbon if the mineral fraction has 500 g kg-1 or more clay, or 1 16 g kg-1 organic carbon if the mineral 
fraction has no clay, or has proportional intermediate contents, or if never saturated with water, have 203 
g kg-1 or more organiz carbon. SS 

Palatibillty - the plant characterisitics which determine what plant species or plant parts are consumed by- 
animals. 



199 



Organic soil materials - soil materials that are saturated with water and have 174 g kg-1 or more organic 
carbon if the mineral fraction has 500 g kg-1 or more clay, or 116 g kg-1 organic carbon if the mineral 
fraction has no clay, or has proportional intermediate contents, or if never saturated with water, have 203 
g kg-1 or more organiz carbon. SS 

Palatlbility - the plant characterisitics which determine what plant species or plant parts are consumed by 

animals. 

Parent Material - the unconsolidated and more or less chemically weathered mineral or organic matter 

from which the solum of soils is developed by pedogenic processes. 

Particle size - the effective diameter of a particle measured by sedimentation, sieving, or micrometric 

methods. 

Patch size - group of vegetation that is similar in age with relative characteristics. 

Pathogen - an organism, essentially microscopic, or a virus directly capable of causing disease. 

Perennial - a stream that ordinarily has running water on a year-round basis. 

Permeable soil - (i) the ease with which gases, liquids, or plant roots penetrate or pass through a bulk 
mass of soil or a layer of soil. Different soil horizons vary in permeability. 

Perturbations - a disturbance of the regular course of motion/ action/ activities. 

Photo-Interpretative groups - descriptions of forest vegetation which includes dominant species, size 
class, and canopy closure which are based on sterioscopic examination of aerial photos. 

pH - describes the activity of the hydrogen ion on a scale ranging from 0-14. pH of 7 is classed as neutral, 
below 7 is acidic and above 7 is basic or alkaline. 

Photosynthesis- the function of carbohydrates in living plants from water and carbon dioxide, by the action 
of sunlight on cholorophyll. 

Placer mining - type of mining where the ore-bearing rock is generally unconsolidated material overlying 
bedrock, such as stream gravels. Placer mining is done using a variety of kinds of equipment, however, 
water is usually necessary to separate the "ore" from the gravels. 

unconsolidated material overlying bedrock, such as stream gravels. Placer mining is done using a variety 
of kinds of equipment, however, water is usually necessary to separate the 'ore' from the gravels, 
placer mining (minerals) 

Predators - Animal that kills and feeds on other animals. 

Prehistoric - a timeframe prior to 1850. 

Profile - a vertical section of the soil through all its horizons and extending into the parent material. 

Puddling - an earthy mixture as of clay, sand and gravel worked while wet into a compact mass that 
becomes impervious to waterh when dry. 

Range of natural variation - is a description of the biotic and abiotic expression which is the result of 
natural process influence on the landscape. The full range of natural variation includes anything which 
would occur on a given landscape over time, under natural conditions. 

Rain shadow - the region of diminished rainfall on the lee side of a mountain range, where the rainfall is 
noticeably less than on the windward side.limate) 



200 



Range threshold - the amount of use range vegetation can withstand before becomming impacted. 

Reconnaisance - a level of data collection which relies upon extensive pre-mapping and site stratrfication 
to distinguish representative sites which are then field sampled at a relatively coarse level. 

Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (ROS) - a system for planning and managing recreation resources that 
recognizes recreation opportunity, recreation setting opportunity, and recreation experiences along a 
spectrum or continum. 

Regeneration - the renewal of a tree crop, whether by natural or artificial means. 

Residual - unconsolidated and partly weathered mineral materials accumulated by disintegration of 
consolidated rock in place. 

Resprout- Ability of some plant species to put on additional growth after the removal of above ground 
vegetation, by grazing, fire or mechanical treatment. 

Rest rotation- a grazing system where at least one portion of the allotment is ungrazed by domestic 
livestock each year. 

Rhizome - a stem, generally modified, that grows along but below the groud surface and produces 
adventitious roots, scale leaves and suckers irregularly along its length, not just at nodes. 

Road density - the measurement of the number of miles of road per square mile. This is generally an 
average over a given area. 

Savannah - a more or less open woodland having an undergrowth mainly of grasses. 

Scree - an accumulation of stones or rocky debris lying on a slope or at the base of a hill or cliff. 

Season long grazing- Essentially a one-pasture unit system in which livestock access to the pasture is 
limited only by the length of the grazing season. 

Seasonal restriction - a restriction placed on resource development and use. The restriction is applied 
to protect surface resources during a time when activities would adversely affect them. 

Security - the protection inherent in any situation that allows elk to remain in a defined area despite an 
increase in stress or disturbance associated with huntin season or other human activity. 

Security areas - any area that will hold elk during periods of stress because of geography, topography, 
vegetation or a combination of these features. 

Sedges - grass like plants, members of the Cavex species. 

Sediment - particles derived from rocks or biological materials that have been transported by fluid. 

Seedling/sapling - a size class of young tress, generally less than two and four inches in diameter breast 
height, respectively. 

Senile plants - plants that have weakening or aging characteristics. 

Serai- A biotic community which is a developmental, transitory stage in an ecological succession. 

Serotinous - a characteristic of some pine species that require heat to melt a resinous substance and open 
the cones allowing seed dispersion. 



201 



Sinuosity - the quality or state of being sinuous. 

Site potential - (i)in ecology, an area described or defined by it biotic, climatic, and soil conditions as 
related to its capacity to produce vegetation, (ii) an area sufficiently uniform in biotic, climatic, and soil 
conditions to produce a particulat climax vegetation. As used in this document, site potential is a term that 
refers to the range of biological capability inherent to any given location. It is based on a comprehensive 
mapping of geology, landform, climate, soils, vegetation, elevation and aspect; and an incorporation of 
these variables into a 'landtype' classification system. It assumes these physical variables determine both 
the structural features of the landscape such as rolling hills or rocky cliffs, and also limit or determine what 
type of vegetative biomass (species and productivity) any given location is capable of supporting at various 
points in time. 

Snag - a standing dead tree from which the leaves and most of the branches have fallen. 

Soil aggregates - soil is formed by the collection of units or partivles into a body mass. 

Soil bulk density- The mass of dry soil per unit bulk volume. The bulk volume is determined before drying 
to constant weight at 105 C. The value is expressed in megagrams per cubic meter. 

Soil horizon - a layer of soil or soil material approximately parallel to the land surface and differing from 
adjacent genetically related layers in physical, chemical, and biological properties or characteristics such 
as color, structure, texture, consistency, kinds and number of organisms present, degree of acidity or 
alkalinity, etc. SS 

Special uses - uses allowed under permit, issued under estabished laws and regulations to an individual, 
organization, or company for occupancy or use of National Forest land for some special purpose. 

Stream morphology - the physical parameters of streams, such as sinuosity, width, depth, extent of 
incising. 

Subspecies - a subdivision of species. 

Successlonal stage- The whole sequence of communities that replaces one another in a given area The 
relatively transitory communities are called "successional stages' while the stavilized system is known as 
the climax. 

Succulent - Having moist vegetative tissue. 

Stamp mill - a mill in which ore is crushed with stamps. 

Suspended sediment - fine rock particles carried by the flow of streams. 

System road - a road or trail that has been placed on the transportation system with an assigned road 
number and is on a regular maintenance schedule. 

Tarns - a small steep-banked mountain lake or pool. 

Terrestrial - living on the ground as opposed to aquatic. 

Timber base - amount of forest crops and stands containing timber. 

Topography - the configuration of a surface including its relief and the position of its natural and man-made 
features. 

TOTAL HDNS - total hardness-hardness of water is defined as its content of metallic ions which react with 
sodium soaps to produce soild soaps or scummy residue. Hardness is normally expressed as the total 
concentration of Ca2+ and MG2+ as milligrams per liter equivalent to CaC03. 



202 



Total net production - total production of II herbaceous plant species. 

Trail termini - the beginning or ending point of a trail. 

Transportation B maps - topographic (1 :24,000) maps used by engineers that show existing and planned 
roads. 

Troad - a combination road and trail. 

Trophic level - functional classification of organisims in a community according to feeding relationships. 

Turbidity - an expression of the optical property of water that scatters light. As suspended sediment 
increases, so does scattering of light and the water gets more cloudy in appearance. 

Unsuitable for timber management - Forest land that is not managed for timber production because a) 
the land has been withdrawn by Congress, the Secretary, or the Chief; B) the land is not producing or 
capable of producing crops of industrial wood; c) technology is not available to prevent irreversible 
damage to soils, productivity, or watershed conditions; d) there is no reasonable assurance that lands can 
be adequately restocked within 5 years after final harvest, based on existing technology and knowledge, 
as reflected in current research and experience; e) there is at present, a lack of adequate information to 
responses to timber management is inconsistent with or not cost efficient in meeting the management 
requirements and multiple-use objectives specified in the Forest Plan. 

Urbanization - the conversion of rural areas to concentrations of human dwellings and commerce. 

Vertical diversity - the relative number of vegetative layers occurring on an area, generally as a result of 
species or age differences. 

Viable population - a population that has the estimated numbers and distribution of reproductive individu- 
als to ensure the continued existence of the species throughtout its existing range (or range required to 
meet recovery for listed species) within a planning area (usually a forest). 

Vigor- active or healthy growth. 

Water developments - developments designed and constructed to hold water above ground surface. 

Water stressed- when lack of available soil, mositure is the factor limiting vegetative growth and produc- 
tion. 

Water yield - the amount of water coming from a watershed or drainage. 

Weakly developed soils - soils which due to position (steep slopes, high elevations) parent material, or 
youthfulness in geologic time have not been sufficiently altered as to be distinguished by differentiating 
horizons. 

Weathering - all physical and chemical changes produced in rocks, at or near the earth's surface, by 
atmospheric agents. 



203 



Appendix N 
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204 



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216 



Elkhorn Landscape Analysis 
Supplements and/or Amendments 

Date Title Abstract Initials 



Madison Range Overview 

February 18, 1994 

The Madison Range project is connected with a number of activities proposed on the Forest: 

The proposed analysis will be the primary information used in the development of the Forest Plan 

revision. 

The Madison Range project is the front end" to the Lee Metcalf Fire and Wilderness Management 

Plans. 

The project will emphasize collaborative planning (ie. Yellowstone National Park, Beaverhead N.F., 

state and county officials, Montana State University) 

This project fits in great with the National/Regional ecosystem framework. 

This project can be used to implement Project 615. 

General Timeline 

Basic Information January - May (1 994) 

Natural Variation March - May 

Existing Condition January - Jury 

Desired Condition May - October 

Identify Management Practices November 

Wrap Up December 

Possible NEPA January - May (1995) 

Implementation August 

Issues that need to be addressed 

We do not have a wildlife biologist on the IDT, this is a necessity. 

The following page displays the time commitments needed to complete the project, is it workable? 

Cost for Fiscal 1994 - $125,000 



Madison Range Ecosystem Management Project 

Workforce Assessment 

(Workdays) 



Information 
Management 


Stands 


Roads/Trails 


Streams 


Ownership 


Landtypes 


Shelly Williams 




20 








Henry Shovic 










15 


Collein Stein 


40 










Susan Lamont 


10 


10 


10 


15 




Sally Senger 


30 










Steve Cassani 


30 










Joan Roe 


20 










Bev Dixon 


10 











10 Team 


Basic Info 


Natural 
Variation 


Existing 
Condition 


Desired 
Condition 


Remarks 


Mark Novak 


30 


30 


30 


30 




Kimberly Schlenker 


5 


5 


5 


5 




Jim Devitt 


10 


20 


10 


20 




Alan Vandiver 


20 


20 


10 


15 




Wildlife Biologist 

rrmrrrnm 


20 


20 


20 


20 







Basic Info 


Natural 
Variation 


Existing 
Condition 


Desired 

Condrtion 


Remarks 


Fire History 

Fred Jones 
Ed Leritz 


5 
5 


5 
5 








Wildlife 












Cult Resources 

Wart Allen 


5 


5 


5 


5 




Noxious Weeds 

Claude Coffin 


3 




1 


1 




Fisheries 

Bruce May 
Nick Hetrick 
Wally McClure 


15 


15 


15 


15 


These days will be split 
the three people 


Range 

Claude Coffin 


3 




3 


2 




Soil & Water 

Henry Shovic 
Mark Story 
Cheryl Taylor 


5 
4 




5 
10 
10 


3 
3 




Public Participation/ 
Collaborative Planning 

Steve Christiansen 
Jim Devrtt 








30 


See IDT days 


Sensitive Plants 

JT Stangl 






3 






ecreation 

ane Ruchman 
Kimberly Schlenker 
Mary Vandiver 
Dave Carey 


5 




5 

2 
2 


5 

2 
2 







Basic into 


Natural 
Variation 


Existing 
Condition 


Desired 
Condition 


Remarks 


Vegetation 

Mark Novak 
m Hancock 






3 


3 




Transportation 

1 Jonathan Kempff 


10 


10 


10 


10 





THOUGHTS FOR CREATING A FRAMEWORK FOR THE MADISON ASSESMENT 

EM Principles 

* Integration of Social, Economic, and Ecological Factors 

* Understanding Range of Natural Variability 

* Multiple Scale Approach 

* Collaboration 

* Adaptive Management 

* Conservation of Biodiversity 

* Consideration of Ecological Functions 

Implications of EM Principles to Planning 

* Boundaries other than Administrative 

* New type of Risk Assessment (Effects) 

* Multiscale Assessments 

* Collaborative Process 

* Increased emphasis on Monitoring 

* Different Technology 

* Separation of Strategical and Tactical 



Components of the EM Assessment Process 

1. Determine the Needs and Desires of People 

* Requires Social and Economic Assessment 

2. Determine Ecological Feasibility and Sustainability 

* Requires Natural (Historic) Conditions Assessment 

* Understanding of Current Condtion 

* Understanding of Ecological Processes 

* Rare Element Evaluation 

3. Determine Technical and Economic Feasibility 

* (3. and 4. are accomplished through Risk Assessments) 

4. Develop Socially Acceptable, Sustainable, and Achievable Vision 

* Requires all of the above and Collaboration 



SUBREGIONAL AND LANDSCAPE LEVEL ASSESSMENTS 

Purpose 

* Provide the Framework for Implementing Ecosystem Management Principles 

* Provide the Context for lower level Assessments 

* Support Forest Plan Changes/Revisions 

* Support Subregional EIS development 

* Support other Policy Development 

Assessment Principles 

1 Focus the assessment by understanding the management issues 

2. In relationship to scale 

-focus above for context 
-focus below for function 

3. Address commonalities and themes between assessment units 

4. Assessment boundaries are a function of what is being assessed 

5. Stress the interrelationships between assessment components 

-social/economic-aquatic-terrestnal 

6. Characterization of the components can be functional and 

multi-disciplinary, whereas, assessment must be interdisciplinary 

7. Assessments need to be carried far enough to be useful at the next decision 

step 

8. Plan for management oversight and review 



Madison Landscape Assessment Strategy 



Understand 

* Identify the boundaries 

* Identity the purpose of the assessment 

* Understand/identify the decisions to be made 

* Identify the management concerns and issues 

* Establish timeframes and schedule 

* Identify team - core and support 

. Characterize 

* Identify components based on the issues 

* Identify resource specialists to do the individual characterizations 

* Identify information needs 

* Describe the current conditions 

* Complete GIS and other systems 

* Identify tools available for assessment 

* Utilize maps and other display techniques 



III. Assessment 

* Bound the assessment - determine questions to be answered 

* Identify analysis units 

* Describe maior processes and functions operating on the landscape 

* Describe the range of natural variability 

* Do risk assessments 

* Identify conflicting uses 

* information on future trends 

* Identify desired condition for each component 

* Develop possible scenarios for future 

* Develop conservation strategies for any rare or unique components 



IV. Develop Goals and DFCs 

* Present assessment to groups and public 

* Define decision space 
' DFC and Goals 

' Facilitate decision making process 

* 'dentify activities for implementation 



Crow Implementation Area 



FINAL 



March 1993 



Table of Contents 



Page 



I Tie to Elkhorn Landscape Analysis Parent Document 1 

FIGURE 1 (Map of Crow Implementation Area) 

II Existing Conditions , 1 

A Soils 1 

B Watershed 1 

1. Landtype Aggregates 2 
2 Water Quality 7 

C Vegetation 3 

1 Landtype Associations 9 

2. Old Growth 14 

3. Noxious Weeds 15 

D Fish 16 



E Wildlife 18 

FIGURE 2 (Elk Security Areas) 

F Allotments 20 
FIGURE 3 (Range Allotments) 

1 Forest Service 20 

2. Bureau of Land Management 24 

G Recreation . _29 

1 Recreation Opportunity Spectrum 29 

2. Crow IA Users 30 

3 Special Features and Setting 30 

4 Recreation Activities 30 

H Transportation System 33 

1 Major Roads 33 

2. Minor Roads 35 

3. Area Closures 35 
4 Open Road Densities 35 
5. Trail System 36 

I. Visual Quality 4 

J. Special Uses 41 

K. Minerals . - 41 

L. Lands 43 



Ill Comparison of Existing with Desired Conditions 44 

A Soil and Water 44 

B. Vegetation 44 

C Fish and Wildlife 45 

D Recreation 45 

IV. Management Opportunities 45 

A Soils, Water, and Vegetation 46 

B Fish and Wildlife 55 

C Recreation and Transportation 61 

D. Visual Quality 67 

V Integrated Data Collection 68 

VI Program of Work Proposed Schedule 73 

VII. Monitoring Needs. 77 



I. TIE TO ELKHORN LANDSCAPE PARENT ANALYSIS 

The purpose of identifying and describing the "implementation area' is to move from the landscape level to a more 
site specific area at which to begin identifying the management practises that will begin implementing the desired 
conditions. 

There are 3 implementation areas delineated within the Elkhorn Mountains -- Crow Creek, North Elkhorns, and 
South Elkhorns (see Figure 2 in Elkhorn Landscape Analysis document). Although generally defined by watershed 
boundaries, other boundaries such as elk herd units, allotments, and landtype associations were also taken into 
account when delineating these areas. 

At a landscape level, the analysis did not identify specific limitations on implementing the desired conditions as 
they were described for the mountain range. In order to comply with laws and social/economic values, limiting 
factors must be identified and described. 

The watershed is assumed to be the area within which cumulative effects on water quality and yield can become 
limiting factors. Because it is not possible to evaluate these factors effectively at the landscape level, watersheds 
were used as the logical area within which to implement and monitor the overall desired conditions. 

The Crow Creek Implementation Area (IA) includes the Crow Creek, Slim Sam, and Indian Creek Watersheds, as 
well as some smaller watersheds which relate to the use patterns of the North and South Crow elk herds (Figure 
1). It roughly cooresponds to "IRW 2" from the Elkhorn IRMA, but includes adjacent BLM and private lands. 

II. EXISTING CONDITIONS 

Wherever possible, existing conditions for the Crow IA were defined more specifically then was possible in the 
landscape analysis. Some resources are not further described in this document. For such resources (eg. many 
wildlife species, the existing condition at this time reflects the information found in the overall landscape analysis 
As additional specific information becomes available, it will be appended to this document. 

A. Soils 

Soil types in the Crow IA include those described for the overall landscape. Because this area is dominated by 
grasslands, mollic soils are the dominant soil type in this area. Additional soils information can be located in the 
descriptions for LTA's 2, 4, and 1 1 in the Elkhorn Landscape Analysis. 

B. Watershed 

General characterizations of the Crow IA watersheds can be located in the Elkhorn Landscape Analysis within the 
descriptions for water (Part 2, C. Water), fisheries (Part 2, E. Fisheries), and riparian conditions (Part 2. D 
Vegetation). 

Information on surface and ground water in the Crow IA is found under 'CROW CREEK" and "INDIAN CREEK" in 
the landscape analysis. The following section further describes the characteristics of the watersheds in the Crow 
IA using landtype aggregates as a basis (see Part 2, D. Vegetation, 1. Introduction, and Figure 10 in landscape 
analysis document). Information on watersheds that occur entirely on BLM has not been compiled to date, nor have 
the aggregate map units been extended onto BLM lands. 

Additional information on the disturbance found along stream reaches was collected in 1992 and is on-going. 
These "riparian disturbance" inventories will be summarized and that information appended to this document as 
it becomes available. 



a 
a) 



CD 
Cfl 

C/> 

rr 
o 










Figure 1 



Specific information on water quality follows the aggregate characterizations. 

1. Landtype Aggregates 

The Crow IA encompasses roughly 115 square miles or 52% of the Elkhorns land mass (within the Forest 
Boundary). This includes 53% of the total stream miles and associated riparian habitat (1 45 str. mi.). This implemen- 
tation area is composed of nearly equal percentages of Ecological Landscape Units (ELU's) 2 and 4 (43 and 42 
sq.mi. respectively), but also includes a substantial acreage of ELU 3 (30 sq. mi./ 26% of the IA). ELU 2 occupies 
the upper elevation portions of the Crow, Prickly Pear, and Indian Creek watersheds, and is most commonly 
associated with glaciated landforms. The mid-elevation zones of Indian, Crow, Whitehorse, and Diorite Watersheds 
represent ELU 3. The remaining lower elevations represent ELU 4, and reflect the drier characteristics of the 
grass/shrub dominated rolling uplands. In total, nine watersheds drain this portion of the Elkhorns (Table 1). 



Table 1 



Watershed # 


Name 


Square Mi 


Stream 

Mi 


1206 


Crow Creek 


86 


103 


1204B 


Whitehorse Creek 


3 


3.4 


1204C 


Diorite Creek 


.6 


1.3 


1205A 


Indian Creek 


5 


5.1 


1205B 


W. Fk. Indian 


2.6 


3.3 


1206A 


Slim Sam Creek 


7.5 


14 


2801 


Sand Creek 


2.2 


2.2 


0820 


Prickly Pear Creek 


10.8 


13.3 



The concept of Landtype Aggregates was introduced in the Elkhorns Landscape Analysis document. Further 
information is found in Appendix E of the Elkhorn Landscape Analysis document. The following characterizations 
are tentative based on reconnaisance valley bottom inventory data collected at a "Forest-wide" level. Aggregates 
are classified on the basis of similarities in landform and geology, which in turn are closely correlated with stream 
type and associated stream features. 

Table 2 displays the percentages of the IA occupied by each aggregate in order of occurrence. Table 2 also 
displays the values for geologic erosion factors (GEF), average natural sediment rates (ANSR), sediment potential, 
and drainage densities by aggregate. 

Most of the sediment generated from undisturbed watersheds comes from the channel itself (see ANSR, Table 2). 
Generally, sediment from surface erosion in undisturbed watersheds is insignificant when compared to sediment 
from stream channel sources. As with the geologic erosion factor, sediment rates are highest for aggregates 
associated with granitics and lowest for those associated with metasediments. 



The sediment potential index is a relative index based on geologic erosion factors and slope sediment delivery 
ratios. A geologic material may be erosive but not have the potential to deliver eroded materials to any stream. This 
difference is illustrated by comparing values in Table 2 for aggregates 10 and 11. Aggregates 10 and 1 1 are both 
associated with granitics and have high erosion factors, but aggregate 10 has gentle slopes, resulting in \r 
sediment potential. Within the Crow IA, aggregates dominated by granitic parent material (1 0, 1 1 , 22, 23) are foe 
only in the Prickly Pear watershed. 



Table 2. 



%of IA 


Aggregate 


Sq.Mi. 


GEF 


ANSR 


Sediment 


Drainage Dens. 


30% 


2 


30 


.4 


1.2-1.7 


.066(Low) 


.51 


16% 


3 


20.3 


1.0 


1.5 


.076(Low) 


1.06 


10% 


18 


13 


.4 


1.7 


224(High) 


.98 


11% 


21 


12.8 


,3-,5 


.7-2.0 


,103(Low) 


1.26 


5% 


19 


6 


.3 


1.5 


168(Mod) 


1.2 


4% 


4 


4.6 


.3 


1.7 


.08 (Low) 


1.6 


3% 


15 


3.6 


.3 


1.5 


.03 (Low) 


3.1 


3% 


25 


3.3 


.5 


.7 


.09 (Low) 


3.78 


2% 


20 


2.3 


.3 


2.0 


156(Mod) 


1.16 


1.3% 


22 


1.5 


.9 


3.0 


162(Mod) 


.32 


1.2% 


10 


1.3 


.5 


3.0 


5 (High) 


1.64 


1% 


28 


1.1 


5 


.7 


.09 (Low) 


3.78 


<1% 


23 


<1 


.9 


3.5 


.468(High) 


1.08 


<1% 


11 


<1 


.9 


3.0 


.13 (Low) 


.73 


<1% 


26 


<1 


.5 


.7 


.09 (Low) 


3.86 


1% 


31 


1.4 


.5 


2.0 


05(Low) 


6.04 

















Units include: ANSR (tons/mi2/yr), Drainage Density (miles of stream/mi2), Sediment= Sediment Potential Index (Geologic Erosion Factor times 
Slope Sediment Delivery Ratio). 



Other aggregates in the Crow IA include those associated with glacial landforms (20-28) and basaltic rolling 
uplands (18). Aggregate 18 comprises only 10% of the Crow IA, but unlike any other aggregate, is nearly unique 
to the Elkhorns. Relative to area on the Helena National Forest, 96% of the total acres of aggregate 1 8 are located 
in the Elkhom range; 72% of which are located within the Crow IA. 

Characteristics of the predominant aggregates (2, 3, 18, 21) found in the Crow IA are detailed below. 



AGGREGATE 2: (Upper Crow Creek) 

VALLEY BOTTOM CHARACTERISTICS - This aggregate consists of basaltic mountain slopes and ridges 
Common drainage patterns are dendritic to subparallel with weakly incised V-shaped bottoms. Often valley 
shapes are that of an inverted barn roof. Some of the mid-elevation drainages are moderately spaced with 
more deeply incised V-shaped bottoms. Valley bottom sideslopes are straight to convex with a gradient 
ranging from 20-50%. Valley bottom slopes range from 5-25% with bankfull slopes being somewhat less less 
at 4-18%. Streams have a low sinuosity and are confined with a low floodplain/bankfull ratio. Width/depth 
ratios are low with step pool sequences being dominant. The particle size distribution is linear with a 
dominant (D84) particle size of small boulder to large cobble and a D50 of medium to coarse gravel. Woody 



debris can be significant affecting up to 50% of stream channel at times. Streams most closely fit Rosgen 
A4 type. 

SOIL CHARACTERISTICS - Fine loamy Typic Cryaquepts are the dominant taxon within the valley bott 
of this aggregate. Mineral horizons are overlain by a 2-6" matt of partially decomposed organic matter <_ 
are generally saturated throughout the growing season; water tables are less than 1 5" from the surface, and 
mottles or gleying may be encountered at shallow depths (7-12"). Lithic Cryoborolls are found on slightly 
higher landscape positions within these valley-bottoms and occur on 20-30% of the riparian sites. Cryaque- 
nts occupy positions immediately adjacent to the stream and are undeveloped complexes of silt and >50% 
cobbles and gravel. In angular basalt the complex tends to be silt/angular medium gravel with less than 20' 
to bedrock. Partially decomposed woody debris is important in soil profiles both of stream banks and 
mid-level terraces. Evidence of historic fires in the form of distinct charcoal horizons has been found in soil 
profiles within this aggregate. 

VEGETATION DESCRIPTION - Valley bottoms within this aggregate characteristically support a coniferous 
overstory of spruce, subalpine fir and lodgepole pine. Spruce and sub-alpine fir dominate and grow to the 
streams edges. The Subalpine fir/twisted stalk riparian habitat type (MRA classification) dominates up to 
75% of these valley bottoms. Understory vegetation includes varying percentages of spruce, fir and aspen 
seedlings, in addition to high canopy coverages of alder, currant, bluebell, arrowleaf groundsel, false 
hellebore, saxifrage and ferns. The landscape tends to be a mosaic of different serai expressions of these 
species; varying in degree of dominance. Currants, ferns and tall forbs grow thick where the tree cover is 
low. Vegetation at the edges of these narrow valley bottoms reflects an upland influence and drier sites 
become a mix of riparian and upland species such as snowberry, thimbleberry, reedgrass, lodgepole pine 
and Douglas fir. 

Although the dominant vegetation component occurs in the upper subalpine category, relatively few stream 
miles are associated with this group, the greatest proportion of stream miles occur within the lower subalpine 
component. 

MANAGEMENT IMPLICATIONS - Where gradients permit, substrates are ideal for fish spawning habitat < 
the step pool sequence creates deep pools for fish habitat. Streams are very resistant to peak fi 
increases, especially where angular basalts occur. While vegetation can be easily damaged under uncon- 
trolled, season-long grazing; the streams are fairly resilient. 

AGGREGATE 3: (mid-Crow; Slim Sam) 

VALLEY BOTTOM CHARACTERISTICS - This aggregate consists of metasedimentary mountain slopes and 
ridges. The drainage pattern is dendritic with moderately spaced (drainage density of 1.06) deeply incised 
V-shaped bottoms. In the upper end of some of the drainages, the valley bottoms are weakly incised and 
tend to be broader in nature. Valley bottom slopes range from 5 to 20%. Bankf ull slope measurements range 
from 3.5 to 8%. First and second order streams have a low sinuosity which may approach 1 .0 even though 
confinement is low to moderate. The low confinement is a reflection of the small bankfull widths in compari- 
son to the floodplain widths. In the higher order streams, less confinement may accompany broader valley 
bottoms. 

Stream particle size includes a range of gravel to cobble in the dominant particle category (D84), and from 
small to fine gravel in the median particle size (D50). The cobble size material is "channery" (flat) in shales). 
Width/depth ratios are on the high end of "low" classification (8-12). Large woody debris is not significant, 
but smaller woody material is essential to forming pool habitat and stabilizing stream banks. Streams most 
closely fit Rosgen A4. 

SOIL CHARACTERISTICS - The steeper gradient lower order valley bottom sideslopes are characterized by 
weakly developed, well drained soils (Inceptisols). The bottoms are very narrow and have the potential to 
support hydrophytic vegetation where the plant communities are managed to trap sediments and maintain 
water storage. Some less steep second and higher order drainages with subsurface soils are dominate^ 
by water deposited sand and gravel. These soils, although well-drained, tend to stay moist for extenc 
periods. Aquepts are associated with the stream channel. The lowest gradient streams in this aggrega 
tend to be influenced by grass/forb vegetation and are dominated by Mollisols (Borolls on better drained 



terraces and Aquolls on the lowest terraces near the stream channel). Aquolls (wet, dark soils) are associat- 
ed with springs and seeps in this aggregate. 

VEGETATION DESCRIPTION - Plant communities within this valley bottom type vary from inclusions of 
wet-site forbs and grasses growing adjacent to the water on the lowest bank profile, to shrub dominated 
communities running along the intermediate stream banks, to conifer dominated communities on the slightly 
higher terraces. 

Douglas fir is the dominant overstory species, but aspen and cottonwood often occur as codominants or 
as serai dominants. Douglas fir/ redosier dogwood appears to be the dominant habitat type, and covers 
approximately 60% of this valley bottom type. It often merges into Douglas fir/nmebark or Douglas fir/ 
twinflower habitat types on the adjacent sideslopes. Relatively undisturbed sites may be capable of support- 
ing a conifer overstory of spruce, subalpine fir , lodgepole pine, and an occasional very large Douglas fir. 
Shrubs often dominate the streamside, and may include chokecherry, willow, redosier dogwood, and alder 
These mixed shrub communities cover approximately 30% of this valley bottom type. 

The wetter-site grass/forb dominated communities occur on 5-10% of the valley bottom, and include such 
species as fowl mannagrass, kentucky bluegrass, monkeyflower, and club moss. Beaked sedge/willow 
communities can also occur as minor inclusions on seepy sites with high water tables. 

MANAGEMENT IMPLICATIONS - Significant siltation can occur causing cementing of particles. These valley 
bottom types are sensitive to peak flow increases with downcutting and resultant terraces. Width/depth 
ratios can change drastically under grazing pressure. 

AGGREGATE 18: (Lower Crow; north slope) 

VALLEY BOTTOM CHARACTERISTICS - This aggregate consists of basaltic rolling uplands. The drainage 
pattern is dendritic with widely spaced (drainage density of .98) weakly incised broad concave bottoms. 
Because the valley bottoms can be broad and concave, valley bottom width can be difficult to measure. 
Valley bottom slopes are fairly gentle, ranging from 5-13% with bankfull slope measurements somewhat less 
(4-7%). 

Particle size distribution includes large cobble as the dominant particle (D84) and medium to very coarse 
gravel and the median particle size (D50). There are limited fines and abundant gravels. Sinuosity is low even 
though confinement is moderate due to the broad valley bottoms. There is often not enough stream energy 
for meanders to develop. Width/depth ratios are low and the channel sequence is mostly riffles. Woody 
debris and pool habitat are limited. Streams most closely fit Rosgen A3/B3a type. 

SOIL CHARACTERISTICS - Riparian soils reflect both parent material and moderate slopes and tend to be 
relatively well developed Cryaquolls and Cryoborolls. 

VEGETATION DESCRIPTION - Riparian plant communities within this aggregate vary from grass dominated 
to aspen dominated. Graminoids often dominate springside communities and may include: tufted hair grass, 
baltic rush, water sedge, nebraska sedge, fowl mannagrass, kentucky blue grass, and timothy. 

Streamside communities exhibit a range of plant communities from moist site forb and grass dominated 
communities on the lowest, wettest profile to either shrub dominated communities or aspen dominated 
communities on slightly higher terraces. 

Species characteristic of the wetter forb/grass communities include: common monkey-flower, fowl manna- 
grass, smooth willow-herb, field mint, clubmoss, and brookgrass. Thinleaf alder, Bebb's willow, and other 
willow species dominate the shrub communities. Plants, such as mountain bluebell, cow parsnip, stinging 
nettles, baneberry, western meadowrue, Siberian aster, and redtop contribute to the shrub understory. An 
aspen component exists in some stream-terrace locations. Understory species associated with the aspen 
vary with location and with soil moisture, but may include: field horsetail, swamp currant, Idaho gooseberry, 
cow parsnip, tall groundsel, western meadowrue, baneberry, twisted stalk, Richardson's geranimum, and 
Kentucky blue-grass. 



MANAGEMENT IMPLICATIONS - Streams in this aggregate have excellent potential to provide fish spawning 
habitat due to the limited fines and abundant gravels. These streams are sensitive to grazing however, w ,H 
silts filling in and cementing cobble size material. Width/depth ratios would increase under grazing pres: 
as well. Streams are moderately sensitive to peak flow increases. 

AGGREGATE 21 (Tizer Basin) 

VALLEY BOTTOM CHARACTERISTICS - This aggregate consists of metasedimentary cirque basins and has 
several unique and distinct valley bottom stream types. The first is a very weakly incised, rock controlled 
drainage. The valley bottom slope is very similar to banktull slope (>10 and up to 30%). Particle size 
distribution is bedrock and medium gravels. There is often a step pool sequence with steps or risers of three 
or more feet. Valley bottoms and floodplains of these locations are difficult to define. For the most part these 
are classic A1a Rosgen stream types. Floodplains and riparian areas are often formed by fallen trees, which 
provides microsites for sediment to be trapped and vegetation to establish. Stream sinuosity is low and is 
controlled by bedrock and woody debris. Floodplain width is often the same as valley bottom width. Adjacent 
upland slopes are 1 0-30%. 

Often found in conjunction with these high energy streams of this aggregate are valley bottoms of the 
second distinct type. In these locations the drainage pattern is often parallel with widely spaced, weakly 
incised, broad concave landforms with relatively flat valley bottoms. These streams are deep, and narrow, 
meandering through broad valley bottoms. In these locations the valley bottom slope is less than 4% and 
the banktull slope is less than 0.5%. Width/depth ratios are very low and floodplain/bankfull ratios are very 
high. Dominant particle size or D84 is medium gravel, with medium gravel and sand beneath as the D50. 
The stream is considered a glide for most of the reach. Banks are often undercut but stable. Depositional 
features are very subdued. Large woody debris is almost negligble, however willows if present can cause 
evulsions to take place and old remnant stream channels are not hard to find in these alluvial basins. 

SOIL CHARACTERISTICS - Soils found in conjunction with the first stream type described above occupv 
a relatively small percentage of the valley bottoms-as over 80% of the valley bottom may be occupied 
the stream itself. Soil development that has taken place is primarily in the form of decomposed woody dei. 
with small amounts of mineraJ soil forming a histic matt overlying bedrock, glacial boulders, stones and 
cobbles. Over time true Histosols may develop on these sites. 

Soils associated with streams of the broad cirque basins reflect the longterm accumulation of large amounts 
of organic matter. Histosols of 1 6-20" depths occupy up to 70% of the valley bottoms. Over 20% of the 
remaining sites support loamy Cryaquolls. In these locations distinct mottles and rock contents of 45% are 
encountered at shallow depths (7-12"). 

VEGETATION DESCRIPTION - Vegetation patterns are also distinct for the two dominant stream types in 
this aggregate. In the steep, rocky drainages where the stream itself is a dominant component of the valley 
bottom a narrow band of riparian vegetation grows directly adjacent to the water on sites with marginal soil 
development over bedrock, and within the stream on decomposing logs. The overstory is dominated by 
subalpinefir and willow, with currant and arrowleaf groundsel in the mid-canopy layer. Twisted stalk, brook 
saxifrage and clubmoss are the dominant understory species. Relatively low overstory canopy coverages 
(30%) are common to these sites which fall into the subalpine fir/twisted stalk habitat type. Adjacent uplands 
are dominated by the subalpine fir/whitebark pine/grouse whortleberry habitat type. 

Open sedge meadows characterize the basin portions of this aggregate. Although Carex species predomi- 
nate, a mosaic of sedge and willows is scattered throughout. 

MANAGEMENT IMPLICATIONS - Streams associated with glacially scoured cirque walls, are high energy 
streams that can withstand peak flow increases as well as sediment inputs. Fisheries potential is low. As 
the gradient changes and streams run through the cirque basins, they become sensitive to disturbance from 
grazing. As wildlife use of these riparian zones is quite high, additional grazing pressure from livestock 
quickly leads to over-utilization of shrubs. The organic soils of these locations are susceptible to disturban 
becoming hummocky and compacted under excessive use. Disturbance of streambank vegetation lea 
to widening of the streams, and a loss of natural width/depth characteristics. Portions of the cirque basin 
valley bottoms may support jurisdictional wetlands. 

6 



2. Water Quality 

State water quality standards for all the streams in the Crow Watershed are classified as as B-1. Waters classified 
as B-1 are suitable for drinking, culinary and food processing purposes after conventional treatment; bathing, 
swimming and recreation; growth and propagation of salmonid fishes and associated aquatic life, waterfowl and 
furbearers; and agricultural and industrial water supply. Specific parameters are as follows: 

pH Induced variation of pH within the range of 6.5-8.5. Natural pH outside this range must be 

maintained without change. Natural pH above 7.0 must be maintained above 7.0. 

turbidity The maximum allowable increase above naturally occurring turbidity is 5 nephelometric 

turbidity units. 

temperature A 1 degree Farenheit maximum increase above naturally occurring water temperature is 

allowed within the range of 32-66 degrees Farenheit. 



sediment 



No increases are allowed above naturally occurring' concentrations of sediment, set- 
tleable solids, oils or floating solids. 



'naturally occurring - conditions or material present from runoff or percolation over which man has no control OR from developed lana 
where all reasonable land and soil and water conservation practices have been applied. 

Flow and water quality data have been collected on Crow, South Fork Crow, Prickly Pear, Eagle, and Indian Creeks 
as well as Jenkins Gulch. Extensive data exists for Crow, South Fork Crow, and Prickly Pear Creeks. A summary 
of this data and the number of years of information is listed in Table 3 below. 



Table 3. Water Monitorinq 


in the Crow Watershed (in average concentrations). 






Parameter 


Crow 


S. Crow 


Pr Pear 


Jenkin Gul 


Eagle 


Indian 


LS.Crow 


U.S. Crow 


Susp. Sed 
(mg/l) 


2.4 


16.3 


5.3 












Turbidity 
(JTU) 


0.9 


5.6 


1.5 


0.49 


2.2 


1.46 


1.1 


1.47 


Ttl Hardness 
(mg/l) 


35 


97 


28 












Alkalinity 
mg./(L) 


38 


93 


32 










• 


Conductivity 
(umhos/cm) 


72 


183 


55 


330 


230 


170 


160 


65 


SpectraJ pH 
(units) 


7.1 


7.6 


7.6 


8.5 


8.4 


8.3 


8.6 


8.4 


Discharge 
(cfs) 


86.6 


6.4 


22.4 






4.73 


5.75 


10.05 



Years of data collection: Crow Cr: 1984-86, S.Fk Crow Cr: 1981 -90, Prickly Pear:1981-1 
Eagle Cr: 1989-91, Indian Cr: 1989-91, Lower South Fk. Crow: 1981 -91, Upper South 



990, Jenkins Gulch: 1 981 -91 , 
Fk. Crow:1981-91 



The differences in suspended sediments and turbidity among the streams monitored (see Table 3) may be 
attributable to inherent differences in the amount of natural armoring of the stream channel (rocks vs. sediment). 
adjacent topography and its effect on livestock use patterns, and the amount of riparian vegetation. Those stream - 
with rocky substrate, steep topography, and thick riparian vegetation tend to have low suspended sediment 
low turbidity levels and vise versa. 

In areas where streams have low flows and few developed springs (eg. South Fk. Crow), heavy grazing and 
congregations of cattle have led to increased stream sedimentation during low flow. These factors have also 
contributed to channel instability and bank erosion during high flows. 

Mining-related pollution (sediment and/or heavy metals) sources are located in the Eureka, Crow, South Fork Crow, 
Little Tizer, Tizer, Wilson, Moose, and Indian Creeks. Sampling for mining-related water quality problems was 
initiated in 1991 and four samples were collected in the Crow Watershed. Preliminary results indicate that concen- 
trations of heavy metals occur in some of the sites sampled. Two follow-up samples were collected on Indian Creek 
that indicated the presence of heavy metals. At other sites, testing indicated that water quality was adequate given 
the uses of the water. Additional sampling will be conducted in Indian Creek to determine if the metal content 
fluctuates with seasonal flow. 

C. Vegetation 

Vegetation in the Crow Implementation Area includes what was described for ELU 4 (LTA's 2, 4, and 11), and LTA's 
1 , 3 and 9 in the overall Elkhorn Landscape Analysis document. 

In addition, the following specific existing condition information is based on photo interpretation (PI) of individual 
landtypes which was accomplished subsequent to the landscape analysis. This PI work is supported by ECODATA 
"ocular* and "vegcomp" field data. 

Following the landtype association characterizations, specific information is also presented for old growth forest 
and noxious weed infestations within the Crow IA. 



1. Landtype Association Characterizations 



LANDTYPE ASSOCIATION 2-Total Forest Service Area Calculated: 8520 acres 


Landtype 


Total Acres 
% of LTA 


Grassland Acres 
& Percent 


Shrubland Acres 
& Percent 


Conifer Acres 
& Percent 


39A 


2797 acres 
(39A00-N 1/2, 
39A04) 33% 


2181 acres 
78% 


196 acres 

7% 


420 acres 

15% 




2797 acres 
(39A00-S 1/2) 
33% 


979 acres 
35% 


839 acres 
30% 


979 acres 
35% 


39B 


49 acres 

.6% 


41 acres 
85% 


3 acres 
5% 


5 acres 

10% 


39- 


35 acres 

.4% 


acres 
0% 


acres 
0% 


35 acres 
1 00% 


390 


410 acres 
5% 


1 03 acres 

25% 


41 acres 

10% 


266 acres 

65% 


49A 


1 290 acres 
15% 


1 096 acres 
85% 


129 acres 
10% 


65 acres 
5% 


49 


44 acres 
.5% 


acres 
0% 


acres 
0% 


44 acres 
1 00% 


77A 


282 acres 
3% 


239 acres 
85% 


6 acres 
2% 


37 acres 
13% 


94 


580 acres 
9% 


58 acres 
10% 


29 acres 
5% 


493 acres 
85% (8% is 
colonization) 


110 


237 acres 

1% 


1 1 8 acres 
50% 


107 acres 

45% 


12 acres 
5% 


Total acres 
Overall percentage 


4815 acres grass 
57% grasslands 


1363 acres shrub 
1 6% shrub 


2356 acres 
27% conifer 



LANDTYPE ASSOCIATION 4-Total Forest Service Area Calculated: 11,844 acres 


Landtype 


Total Acres 
% of LTA 


Grassland Acres 
& Percent 


Shrubland Acres 
& Percent 


Conifer Acres 
& Percent 


37 


5460 acres 
46% 

(Elkhorn unit) 


1365 acres 
25% 


2184 acres 
40% 


191 1 acres 
35 %, 40% is 
colonization 


37 


2141 acres 
18% 


1 070 acres 

50% 


322 acres 
15% 


749 acres 

35%, 40% is 
colonization 


380 


777 acres 

6% 


77 acres 
10% 


40 acres 
5% 


660 acres 
85% 


77A 


1 255 acres 
11% 


1 067 acres 
85% 


25 acres 
2% 


1 63 acres 
13% 


94 


1613 acres 
4% 


161 acres 
10% 


81 acres 
5% 


1371 acres 

85% 


110 


598 acres 
5% 


120 acres 
20% 


239 acres 

40% 


239 acres 

40% 


Total acres 
Overall percentage 


3860 acres 
32% grasslands 


2891 acres 

24% shrub 


5093 acres 
43% conifer 



10 



LANDTYPE ASSOCIATION 11 -Total Forest Service Area Calculated: 3697 acres 


Landtype 


Total Acres 
% of LTA 


Grassland Acres 
& Percent 


Shrubland Acres 
& Percent 


Conifer Acres 
& Percent 


100 
(27) 


49 acres 
1% 


5 acres 

10% 


1 5 acres 

30% 


29 acres 
60 %, 50% is 
colonization 


29C 
(27) 


2576 acres 
70% 


258 acres 
10% 


773 acres 

30% 


1 545 acres 
60 %, 50% is 
colonization 


29A 


1072 acres 
29% 


375 acres 
35% 


161 acres 

15% 


536 acres 

50%, 60% is 
colonization 


Total acres 
Overall percentage 


638 acres 
17% grasslands 


949 acres 
26% shrub 


2110 acres 
57% conifer 



LANDTYPE ASSOCIATION 11 -Total BLM Area Calculated: 27208 acres 


Soil Series 


Total Acres 
% of LTA 


Grassland Acres 
& Percent 


Shrubland Acres 
& Percent 


Conifer Acres 
& Percent 


Tolman 


8062 
(20%) 


3445 
(43%) 


3480 
(43%) 


1137 

(14%) 


Crago/ 
Rootel 


2798 
(7%) 


2204 
(79%) 


573 
(20%) 


21 
(1%) 


Rencot 


4895 
(12%) 


2570 
(53%) 


2065 
(42%) 


260 
(5%) 


Rooset 


261 
(1%) 


261 
(100%) 








Cheadle/ 
ESS 


3615 
(9%) 


2027 
(56%) 


936 
(26%) 


652 

(18%) 


Tropal 


1219 
(3%) 


869 
(71%) 


245 
(20%) 


105 
(9%) 


Total acres 
Overall percentage 


13304 

17% grasslands 


9485 
26% shrub 


4419 

57% conifer 



11 



LANDTYPE ASSOCIATION 1 -Total Forest Service Area Calculated: 6209 acres 


Landtype 


Total Acres 
% of LTA 


Grassland Acres 
& Percent 


Shrubland Acres 
& Percent 


Conifer Acres 
& Percent 


21 


1 09 acres 
2% 


5 acres 
5% 


acres 

0% 


104 acres 

95 % 


22 


245 acres 
4% 


7 acres 
3% 


acres 
0% 


238 acres 
97% 


31 


3032 acres 
49% 


1 52 acres 
5% 


acres 
0% 


2880 acres 
95% 


320 


1551 acres 
25% 


543 acres 
35% 


465 acres 
30% 


543 acres 

35% 


32A 


1010 acres 
16% 


606 acres 
60% 


303 acres 
30% 


101 acres 
10% 


41 


94 acres 
1% 


acres 
0% 


acres 
0% 


94 acres 
1 00% 


92 


1 38 acres 

1% 


acres 
0% 


acres 
0% 


1 38 acres 

1 00% 


95 


30 acres 

.5% 


acres 
0% 


acres 
0% 


30 acres 
100% 


Total acres 
Overall percentage 


1313 acres 
21% grasslands 


768 acres 
12% shrub 


4128 acres 

66% conifer i 




LANDTYPE ASSOCIATION 3-Total Forest Service Area Calculated: 2427 acres 


Landtype 


Total Acres 
% of LTA 


Grassland Acres 
& Percent 


Shrubland Acres 
& Percent 


Conifer Acres 
& Percent 


39B 


175 acres 
7% 


1 49 acres 

85% 


9 acres 
5% 


1 7 acres 

10% 


470 


1889 acres 
78% 


1 228 acres 
65% 


94 acres 
5% 


567 acres 

30% 


77B 


363 acres 
49% 


18 acres 
5% 


acres 
0% 


345 acres 
95% 


Total acres 
Overall percentage 


1 395 acres 
57% grasslands 


103 acres 
4% shrub 


929 acres 
38% conifer 



12 



LANDTYPE ASSOCIATION 9-Total Forest Service Area Calculated: 9883 acres 


Landtype 


Total Acres 
% of LTA 


Grassland Acres 
& Percent 


Shrubland Acres 
& Percent 


Conifer Acres 
& Percent 


110 


62 acres 
.6% 


12 acres 
20 


25 acres 

40% 


25 acres 

40% 


148 


84 acres 

.8% 


acres 
0% 


acres 

0% 


84 acres 

1 00% 


14C 


684 acres 

49% 


acres 
0% 


acres 

0% 


684 acres 

1 00% 


380 


2160 acres 
22% 


216 acres 
10% 


108 acres 
5% 


1836 acres 

85%, 15% is colonization 


390 


2254 acres 
23% 


564 acres 

25% 


225 acres 

10% 


1465 acres 

65%, 5% is colonization 


47 


724 acres 

1% 


7 acres 

1% 


acres 
0% 


717 acres 

99% 


49 


739 acres 
7% 


acres 
0% 


acres 
0% 


739 acres 

1 00% 


77A 


521 acres 

.5% 


443 acres 
85% 


10 acres 
2% 


68 acres 
13% 


77B 


1 539 acres 

16% 


77 acres 
5% 


acres 
0% 


1462 acres 
95% 


790 


464 acres 

5% 


acres 

% 


acres 

% 


acres 

% 


87 


44 acres 

.4% 


acres 

0% 


acres 
0% 


44 acres 
100% 


94 


608 acres 

6% 


61 acres 
10% 


30 acres 

5% 


517 acres 
85% 


Total acres 
Overall percentage 


1380 acres 
14% grasslands 


398 acres 
4% shrub 


8105 acres 
82% conifer 



13 



2. Old Growth 

For the Elkhorn Mountains, the old growth habitats were mapped from photo interpretation using the folio. 
Forest Plan guidelines: 

An old growth stand is generally characterized by a high level of standing and down, dead and rotting woody 
material; two or more levels of tree canopies and a high degree of decadence indicated by heart rot, 
mistletoe, dead or broken tree tops and moss. 

Five percent of each third order drainage will be managed for old growth. The priority for old growth acres 
will be: 

1 . Land below 6000 feet in elevation 

2. Riparian zones and mesic drainage heads 

3. Management areas emphasizing wildlife habitat 

These areas will normally be managed on a 240 year rotation and will range from 10 to several hundred 
acres. 

For the Crow IA, the following watersheds are listed individually with percentages and acres of estimated existing 
old growth forest. These acres are conservative since the inventory is not yet complete for forested areas outside 
of Helena National Forest lands. Additional acres of old growth forest may be found on BLM and/or private lands. 
Areas for future inventory include Indian Creek from Hassel to Shep's Gulch, the ridgeline south of the Iron Mask 
Mine, and on Continental Hogback in the Limestone Hills. 



WHITEHORSE CREEK 


0% 


acres 


INDIAN CREEK/SHEPS 


1% 


60 acres 


CROW CREEK 


4% 


2050 acres 


WEST FORK INDIAN 


4% 


70 acres 


SUM SAM BASIN 


7% 


380 acres 



No work has been done to assess the quality of the estimated existing old growth as defined by the Forest Plan. 
However, the old growth documented by photo interpretation is located below 6000' elevation and is associated 
with riparian areas. Douglas fir is the major species represented in the existing old growth; all spruce-fir old growth 
in the Elkhorns is above the 6,000 foot elevational limit. 

Recent Northern Region (Forest Service) old growth efforts have resulted in definitions of old growth characteristics 
for habitat groups. The habitat groups are defined by temperature and moisture gradients as developed in Pfister 
et. al. (1982). 

Determination of existing old growth using the new definitions has been recently completed for the Crow IA. Maps 
of exact locations and procedures are located in the project file. A stand map showing old growth forest locations 
will be appended to this document in the future. 

In the lower elevations representing dry, warm habitat types, old growth trees include Douglas fir, ponderosa pine, 
and limber pine. The recent survey work showed that using the "new" old growth definitions, there is a total of 2.065 
acres (2.9% of area) of this type of old growth. The existing condition of these stands includes the component of 
older, large trees needed to met the Regional definitions; however, most of the stands have denser canopies and 
more age classes present now than is thought to have occurred within the natural range of variation. 

At higher elevations, representing cooler, moister habitat types, old growth trees include lodgepole pine, subalpme 
fir, and spruce. Approximately 2% of the Crow IA consists of this type of old growth (a total of 1,440 acres). The 
existing condition of these stands is not considered drastically altered from those found in pre-settlement tinv 
however, the patch sizes of stands representing different age classes may be larger today due to the effects. 
fire suppression. 

14 



3. Noxious Weeds 

Within the Crow Creek watershed, several species of noxious weeds are presently found, and include: 

1. Black henbane (Hyoscyamus niger L.) 

2. Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense L.) 

3. Dalmation toadflax (Linaria dalmatica L.) 

4. Diffuse knapweed (Centaurea diffusa) 

5. Leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula L.) 

6. Musk thistle (Carduus nutans L.) 

7. Spotted knapweed [Centaurea maculosa) 

8. Yellow toadflax (Linaria vulgaris L) 

Dalmation toadflax and spotted knapweed are the major weeds of concern with regard to level of infestation and 
potential for expansion. Diffuse knapweed, Canada thistle, musk thistle, bull thistle, and black henbane occur in 
moderate amounts. Less than 100 plants of leafy spurge exist in several small patches on both the Helena and 
Townsend Districts. A few isolated plants are also found in the Limestone Hills on BLM lands. 

Areas surveyed within the Crow Creek IA have included roadsides, rangelands, riparian zones, timber lands, and 
areas impacted by trails and timber programs. Tizer Basin has not been surveyed for noxious weeds However 
only minor infestations of spotted knapweed have been observed. 

Treatment programs have consisted of biological, chemical and mechanical methods. Chemicals applied include 
Tordon 22K, Tordon 2K, and 2-4D amine. Biological agents currently in use are: Urophora affinis and U. quadnfasci- 
ata, seedhead flies for spotted and diffuse knapweed; Rhinocyllus conicus, a seedhead weevil for Musk thistle; 
Ceutorhynchus litura, a stem mining weevil for Canada thistle; and Calophasia lunula, a defoliating moth which 
attacks Dalmation toadflax. 

Dalmation toadflax is known from 2 locations of 30 acres or less and as scattered small patches and isolated plants 
in the Crow IA. The larger infestations occur on the Jenkins Gulch road #277 in sections 7 and 13, and along Road 
#424 (main Crow Creek road) near Big Mountain. Additional infestations may be found on BLM and/or private lands 
which have not been inventoried to date. 

Spotted and diffuse knapweed are found most frequently along road right of ways and disturbed areas such as 
old mine workings and in areas where overgrazing has occured. Total infestation is estimated at about 2,000 acres 
on all public lands in the Crow IA. Particularly notable infestations occur in Indian Creek and Kimber Gulch due 
to disturbances associated with mining and the railroad, respectively. 

Canada thistle, musk thistle and bull thistle are found in and adjacent to old logging units. These areas include 
the Hog Hollow area, South Crow Creek drainage, and Hall Creek in and around old clear cuts. Acreages of thistle 
have not been determined, but are estimated to be less than 500 acres. 

Black henbane infests the right of way of the Jenkins Gulch road and occurs in small patches throughout the entire 
area. Yellow toadflax has been identified in the South Fork Crow Creek drainage, and is known to infest vehicle 
routes in the Limestone Hills on BLM lands. 

Leafy spurge has been found on a road cutbank in one location on the Helena District and in one location on 
Weasel Creek near the East Pacific mine on the Townsend District. These two locations total less than one (1 ) acre. 

Biological and chemical control efforts have decreased knapweed populations. Treatments are ongoing and 
becoming more intensive. Musk thistle populations on the Townsend District are responding well to the Rhinocyllus 
conicus weevil. Canada thistle has been treated with the root boring weevil, Ceutorhynchus litura; however, survival 
rates of this insect have not yet been determined. 

Dalmation toadflax is currently being treated with Calophasia lunula, a defoliating moth. New biological agents for 
Dalmation toadflax will be released in this area in 1992 in an on going program with Montana State University. 
Dalmation toadflax is the weed of greatest concern due to its resistance to herbicides and potential for rapid 
expansion in the dry grassland areas that provide key elk winter range. 

15 



D. Fish 

Specific fisheries information is presented by stream. 

Prompted by a concern for the fisheries in the area, some aspects of riparian conditions have been monitors 
the Crow IA within the Helena National Forest. This monitoring (which occurred in 1983, 1984, 1987, and 1989) 
reported that several riparian areas in the Crow Watershed have failing stream banks or poor bank stability. 
severely reduced bank cover, and/or declining or absent shrub communities. These efforts are included in the 
stream narratives. 

In addition, surveys which are analyzed through a computer program entitled "COWFISH - have been completed 
for some of the following streams. The parameters measured in these surveys include: 1 )streambank disturbance, 
2)overhanging vegetation, 3)undercut banks, 4)width/depth ratios, and 5)embeddedness (sediment). Each pa- 
rameter is rated and the ratings are compiled to give a final rating of good, fair, or poor. Where COWFISH has been 
completed for a given stream reach, ratings are indicated in the stream narratives which follow. 

CROW CREEK- This stream is formed by the confluence of Tizer and Wilson Creeks. Crow Creek provides the 
best recreational stream fishery within the Elkhorn Mountains. Brook and rainbow trout are the predominant 
gamefish species present with the numbers of trout over six inches in length estimated at over 300 fish per mile 
of stream; however, systematic population estimates have not been conducted. Brook and rainbow trout are 
present above and below Crow Creek Falls, but the upstream extent of rainbow trout distribution has not been 
clearly established. Locals speak of catching "natives' in the stretch of Crow Creek near the confluence of the 
Tizers. Verification of the presence of cutthroat/bull trout is needed in that section. A good population of mottled 
sculpins is present in the lower reaches. 

The limited survey work which has been conducted on the stream indicates that fish habitat is in relatively good 
condition along most reaches. However, livestock grazing has negatively affected riparian and fish habitat on at 
least two reaches. These reaches are located in sections 10 and 14 (T6N R1W) and section 32 (T7N R1W). On 
these reaches the stream has downcut through soft sediments that appear to have been deposited as a function 
of past beaver activity. Willow communities appear to be declining in these reaches. Along other reaches, C 
Creek has been detrimentally affected by flooding which occurred in 1 981 . In many cases this damage is begini 
to heal as new streamside shrubs reinvade exposed gravel streambanks. Survey data suggests that pool habitat 
for fish may be limiting; however, the percentage of pool habitat is typical of what is found on other similar streams 
on the Helena Forest. The amount of fine sediments in spawning gravels averaged 39% in 1 990. The amount of 
fine sediments present are far from optimum for fish production and are somewhat higher than for other similar 
streams on the Helena Forest. 

A reevaluation of Crow Creek is needed from the mouth of Hall Creek upstream to determine if there are other 
reaches currently being damaged by livestock grazing or are in need of rehabilitation from mining or flooding 
effects. 

SOUTH FORK CROW CREEK- Brook and rainbow trout are the two species found in this stream, with brook trout 
up to six inches in length and rainbow trout up to 10 inches in length (no population estimates are available). Fish 
distribution extends right up to and includes the South Fork Lakes. Evaluations in the mid 1980s showed that brook 
trout (including some larger fish) were the predominate fish in both lakes. In 1980, rainbow trout were the 
predominate fish in the upper South Fork Lake. 

In most years a short reach of the South Fork in section 17 becomes intermittant. A sinkhole in section 13 (NE 
quarter section) captures the entire stream. 

Grazing by livestock is causing degradation of fish habitat in sections 16,17, and 18. Currently, measures of the 
fine sediment present in spawning gravels suggest that gravel quality is still in fair condition with fine sediments 
ranging from 25% to 36% (average of 32%). A few pool structures were installed in the stream as habitat 
imporovement in the vicinity of Swamp Creek several years ago. At one time beaver played a very important role 
in forming fish habitat on this stream. Three tributaries to the South Fork of Crow Creek (Blacker, Warner and 
Swamp Creeks) have not been evaluated for the presence of fish). 



16 



SLIM SAM CREEK- State surveys indicate that this stream supports a small population of brook trout. Fishery 
evaluations conducted in the 1980s and in 1991 show that the habitats on the forest have been detrimentally 
affected by grazing along several reaches. A COWFISH rating from 1991 indicated that habitat is "poor. 

Beaver have occupied a portion of the stream downstream of the Forest boundary. Fish habitat in that reach is 
vastly improved over what is present on the Forest. In most years it appears that Slim Sam Creek goes subsurface 
before reaching Crow Creek. Additional survey work is needed to determine restoration measures which would 
improve fish habitat within the Forest boundary. 

JENKINS GULCH- This stream does not currently support a fishery. Evaluations conducted in the early 1 980s by 
fishery personnel clearly showed that grazing was the cause ot high levels of stream bank damage on particular 
reaches of this stream. A COWFISH rating from 1991 indicated that habitat is "poor* 

Monitoring in Jenkins Gulch in 1982 indicated that vegetative cover and bank stability were significantly reduced 
when utilization by cattle in the area was 50% or more. In 1988, an electric fence was constructed in a portion of 
Jenkins Gulch to exclude cattle. The fence was in place until the fall of 1 990. Although the fence was not completely 
effective as a barrier.some improvement in riparian condition reported in 1990. 

EAGLE CREEK- Evaluations in 1 990 and 1 991 showed that fish distribution extends only a short distance upstream 
from the confluence with Crow Creek. There are some potential barriers to upstream fish movement in the lower 
reaches. Stream substrates are currently in relatively poor condition; probably due to sediments resulting from 
livestock grazing (excessive turbidity, caused by cattle, was observed several times during field evaluations 
conducted in 1991). Habitat in the upper reaches (although no fish are currently present), could support a limited 
trout population, but is presently limited by sedimentation from livestock trampling of the streambank in several 
locations. Additionally, monitoring over a three year period clearly showed that livestock, not wildlife, was causing 
the continued decline of the shrub community within the Eagle Creek riparian area. Further, the level ot browsing 
that occurred as a function of livestock use was in violation of the Forest-wide riparian standards. A COWFISH rating 
compiled in 1992 indicated that habitat is poor to very poor. 

Eagle Creek was monitored in 1987 and 1989. Observations in those years indicated that where cattle utilization 
was greater than 40% of the current years growth, there was a decline in the shrub community. 

EUREKA CREEK- Brook and rainbow trout are known to inhabit this stream for 1/2 mile upstream from its 
confluence with Crow Creek. There is a waterfall at this point which has prevented upstream fish movement. 
Longfellow and Eureka Creeks are both barren of fish upstream from the waterfall but appear to have habitat 
capable of supporting fish. 

Observations from 1992 indicated some that livestock congregations in Eureka Creek could be contributing to 
riparian degradation. 

HALL CREEK- The lower reaches of the stream support rainbow and brook trout while the upper reaches have 
been found to support a remnant population of near-genetically pure cutthroat trout. Surveys have not been 
completed on Hall Creek, but reports from watershed specialists indicate that fish habitat for cutthroat trout is being 
negatively affected by livestock grazing. 

BEAR CREEK- No information available; survey needed. 

DEWEY CREEK- No information available; survey needed. 

WILSON CREEK- This stream supports rainbow and brook trout in its lower reaches and primarily brook trout in 
the upper reaches. Brook trout distribution extends to the meadows in the headwaters in section 18. This stream 
has been detrimentally affected by mining in the upper reaches. In 1989, the amount of fine sediment in spawning 
gravels averaged 45% which translates into poor quality spawning habitat. Fish abundance ranged from 1 5 brook 
trout greater than six inches in length per 1 000 feet of stream in the upper reaches to 60 brook trout per 1 000 feet 
in the mid-reaches. 



17 



CLEAR CREEK- Evaluations by the State in 1980 found brook trout for only 3 mile up from the mouth. It was 
suggested that there is at least one mile of suitable habitat currently unoccupied. Further evaluations are needed 
on this stream. 

MOOSE CREEK- Brook trout were found for only 0.2 mile up from the mouth. Suitable habitat is apparently 
unoccupied. Further evaluation is needed. 

CRAZY CREEK- No information is available; needs to be surveyed. 

TIZER CREEK- Brook trout were the only species found in evalutions of this stream. No population estimates have 
been conducted, but the size of brook trout captured averaged six inches in length. Past survey data did not 
mention opportunities for habitat improvement or restoration. 

UTTLE TIZER CREEK- A waterfall barrier is present where Little Tizer joins Tizer Creek. Surveys conducted near 
the mouth of this stream did not yield any fish. However, visual observations by Forest Service watershed personnel 
in the mid 1980s identified trout to be present at least two miles upstream from the confluence with Tizer Creek 
Additional survey of this stream is needed to determine fish distribution, abundance and species composition. 
Although there have been no evalutions conducted regarding habitat restoration or improvement, field reconnai- 
sance has indicated that Little Tizer is relatively "pristine". 

INDIAN CREEK- The reaches of Indian Creek, downstream of the Forest boundary, on private and BLM lands, have 
been severely impacted by mining and road construction. Within some reaches the fishery has been entirely 
eliminated, while on some of the BLM ground (Hassel to Forest Boundary), a small brook trout fishery is reponed 
to exist. 

The West Fork of Indian Creek was evaluated in 1 980 and was found barren of fish. The main fork of Indian Creek 
supports only brook trout. The BLM built a livestock exclosure in 1 986 which extends downstream from the Forest 
boundary 1.25 miles. Within the exclosure numerous fish habitat imorovement structures have been constructed. 
The aspen within the exclosure have responded dramatically to the exclusion of livestock while the willows hr 
not. In 1990 the Forest Service extended the exclosure at least a 1000 feet upstream from the BLM fence. 
exclosure on Forest lands (about 15 acres) included a good deal of existing willows and reports are that these aic 
responding to the lack of browsing by livestock. The area on the Forest excluded from grazing also includes 
numerous fish habitat improvement structures to increase pool habitat for adult fish. 

Water quality, specifically relative to metals, may be limiting fish in Indian Creek. Throughout the drainage, there 
are obvious outcroppings of old mine tailings including extensive mine tailing deposits in the headwaters which 
are on patented mining claims (Park Mines). 

Beaver are currently not present in the Indian Creek drainage, but it is clear that beaver did play a role in the soils, 
vegetation and fish habitat that are present at this point in time. 

E. Wildlife 

Wildlife in the Crow IA include all the species discussed in the landscape analysis. Additional information is 
presented here for the 2 elk herd units found in this area - North and South Crow Elk Herds. 

The North Crow and South Crow segments, which feature about 800 elk, use the Crow Creek IA almost exclusively. 

Seasonal ranges of the North and South Crow herd segments are largely on public land within the National Forest 
boundary. Yearlong ranges of the two herds are roughly separated by Crow Creek. The South Crow herd segment 
summers largely in Tizer Basin, while the North Crow segment summers in the Wilson Creek Area and eastward 
to about Longfellow Creek. However, depending on weather conditions and moisture in the vegetation, it is not 
uncommon to find elk on winter range during the summer months. 

During 35 winter range surveys (made from the air), from 1981 to 1991, all of the elk counted on the South Cr 
Winter Range were observed inside the National Forest Boundary. On the North Crow winter range, during these 
same flights about 1 /6 of the total elk observed in 1 years occurred outside of the Forest Boundary - about equally 

18 



split between BLM land and private land. Combining all censuses for both herds, a small percentage of the total 
wintering elk (4%) in these 2 herd segments was found on private lands. 

A discussion of the need and objective for managing elk security areas is found in the landscape analysis 
Additional analysis is provided here specifically for the North and South Crow elk herds. 

SUMMARY OF EXISTING SECURITY CONDITIONS BY ELK HERD 



Attribute 


NORTH CROW HERD 


SOUTH CROW HERD 


Existing security 
(percent; acres) 


35 %; (9580) 


17 %; (6360) 


Percent security by 
Management Area (E1/E2) 


5% / 30% 


0% / 1 7% 









North Crow- Additional security area options were identified on the winter range based on potential road closures 
(Figure 2). 

By closing several spur roads around Park Mines, an additional 1000 acres of security could be gamed. This 
additional security would be provided in transition zone between summer and winter range. It was estimated 
that these road closures had moderate to high probability of being accepted by the public. 

An additional 1500 acres of security could be gained in the lower portions of Crow Creek by closing road 
4031 -D2. This road is just south of the Cold Springs road and runs along the top of a number of draws that 
drain into Crow Creek. This area occurs in the core winter range. Public acceptance of this closure is 
estimated to be low. 

The proposed road closures in the North Crow Herd home range would add an additional 9% within the winter 
range which could be defined as hunting season security areas. Although security in this elk herd may be adequate 
(>30%) under the present levels of hunting pressure and habitat conditions, these optional closures would provide 
additional protection during years when weather conditions forced elk onto winter range during the big game 
hunting season. These closures may also provide options for mitigating future reductions in cover (to achieve 
vegetation desired conditions) or increases in hunter densities. 

South Crow- The existing security areas for this herd total 1 7 % of the herd home range, and occur entirely within 
summer range (Figure 2). Because of the large proportion of open grass/shrubland within this herd unit's home 
range, attaining 30 % security may not be possible or socially desirable (given low public acceptance of road 
restrictions). However, some additional security could be provided on winter ranges by restricting motorized travel 
on several roads as detailed below. 

Additional security could be provided by closing the Warner Creek road (424-D1). This road bisects two 
drainages and forms portions of two driving loops currently open to motorized vehicles. The closure of this 
2 miles would add approximately 900 acres (3%) of additional security on the fall/winter range. Public 
acceptance of this closure is estimated to be moderate. 

Although public acceptance may be low, additional security could be obtained south and east of Swamp 
Creek and west of Hog Hollow through road closures. Closures on road #621, 621 -C1, and trail #108, 
involving a total of 3-4 miles of road, would add an additional 4% security to the South Crow herd home range 
within the winter range use area. Existing security in this area is limited by high road density and old harvest 
units that are not currently providing hiding cover. Due to the nature of the terrain and the established driving 



19 



ELK HERD UNITS AND SECURITY AREAS 
CROW IMPLEMENTATION AREA 



PRICKLY PEAR (B) 




ELKHORN 




DEVILS FENCE 



«" 




Existing elk security areas 



Potential elk security areas 



Fini iro O 



patterns, enforcement would be challenging, and would require installation of 5-6 barriers. The establish- 
ment of a game retrieval area might help promote public acceptance should these closures be proposed 

The Montana Department Fish, Wildlife and Parks State Elk Plan (1992) suggests that the level of road access is 
acceptable in the Elkhorns at the present time. Since that plan was completed, however, 2 hunting seasons m 
which early snow typified the weather resulted in excessive harvest of spike bull elk. This may indicate a need for 
further restrictions on either harvest and/or hunting pressure through control of access. 

F. Allotments (Figure 3) 

1 . Forest Service 

Most of the allotments in this area have at least 50% of the total area available as suitable livestock range. The large 
allotments, North and South Crow, are operated with multiple permittees on a rest-rotation or deferred rotation 
system. Other allotments, like Diorite, Dahlman, and Pasture have been included with BLM and/or private lands 
as one pasture in a system. Two allotments are currently either vacant (Wilson) or in non-use status (Tizer). Both 
of these allotments provide critical wildlife summer habitat. The major problem on all of these allotments is the 
distribution of livestock. The reasons for the problem vary and include the lack of water (Dahlman), pasture 
configuration (S. Crow), and the inherent tendency for cattle to concentrate in riparian areas (N. Crow, S. Crow) 
It has been recommended that the very small Pasture allotment be exchanged for a private "inholding" to reduce 
administrative costs. A summary of the allotments follows. 



Allotment 


Acres 


Permitted AUMs 


Season of Use 


Diorite 


2,338 


253 


June 1-Oct 15 


North Crow 


18,000 


3,404 


June 11 -Oct 15 


South Crow 


24,131 


3.322 


June 11 -Oct 15 


Dahlman 


6,090 


1,342 


June 16-Nov 1 


Pasture 


1,049 


396 


July 16-Oct 15 


Wilson 


12,800 


vacant except Manley 
Park use 1 in 3 yrs 




Tizer 


6,113 


100 


July 1-Sept 10 
non-use since 1988 



Allotment names generally reflect the main drainage within the allotment (Figure 3), followed by the designation 
of either C&H for cow and horse, or S&G for sheep and goat. The one "S&G" allotment is currently vacant. Detailed 
information by allotment is presented below. 

NORTH CROW C&H #104 

The North Crow allotment is bounded on the south by Crow Creek, on the north by the ridge between Indian Creek 
and Whitehorse Creek, and includes the lands from the Forest boundary west to the ridge above Longfellow Park. 
The allotment covers roughly 18,000 acres of which 9,543 have been mapped as suitable for livestock grazing. 

Colonization by Douglas fir and juniper into the mid and lower elevation grassland and shrubland complexes has 
reduced the quality and quantity of forage species in many of these areas. Fire suppression and loss of soil 
structure are estimated to be the primary causes of this colonization and the concurrent reduction of production 
on these areas by 30-80 percent. Sagebrush is estimated to have increased over time into the grassland communi- 
ties as a result of heavy livestock use. 



20 



LIVESTOCK ALLOTMENTS 
CROW IMPLEMENTATION AREA 




miles 



Figure 3 



From 1969 to 1988, 619 cow/calf pairs were permitted to graze on the allotment from June 1 1 to October 15 for 
3,404 AUM's. The management strategy was a 6 pasture rest-rotation grazing system In 1 989, an interim plan was 
developed due to continued deteriorating resource conditions. This plan prescribed a 3 pasture rest-rotation 
grazing system with emphasis on improving distribution and reconstruction/new construction of some fences and 
several water developments A 20% reduction in cattle numbers was also implemented resulting in 2.058 permitted 
AUM's 

During this interim period, each pasture has been rested. In addition, during the 1990 and 1991 grazing seasons, 
a rider was hired by the permittees to promote better distribution of livestock use From 1989-1991, three areas 
within Indian Creek were fenced to exclude livestock use, and 1 3 springs were developed or reconstructed A water 
system was developed in Shep's Gulch using a hilifter pump and storage tank fed into a trough system for the 
purpose of keeptmg cattle out of the riparian areas within the Shep's pasture. 

An extensive range analysis was completed in 1991 on all land within the allotment that has the potential to be 
suitable for livestock grazing. Some level of utilization mapping was done each year from 1989-1991 to determine 
use patterns, identify problem areas, and calculate annual stocking rates. 

The data has not been analyzed but preliminary work shows the maiority of the area to be in mid to low ecological 
serai condition due to past grazing and lack of natural fire disturbance The three year interim period is not long 
enough to show any major vegetation changes due to the change in the grazing system; however, it appears that 
using two pastures each year, with each pasture used half the season, exceeds the ability of the plants to recover 
from grazing use, particularly in the riparian areas. Further, the interim pasture boundaries (combined from the past 
six pasture system) do not appear to promote good livestock distribution 

SOUTH CROW C&H #105 

This allotment is bounded by Crow Creek, the Forest boundary on the east and south, and the mam ridge between 
Prickly Pear and Crow Creek drainages on the west It includes approximately 24,131 acres of which 12.039 acres 
have been mapped as suitable for livestock grazing 

The South Crow allotment includes 3 pastures along an elevational gradient. The Spring pasture is a lower 
elevation pasture comprised of drier grassland/shrubland complexes that cure out relatively early in the grazing 
season and hence this pasture has lower productivity values. Much of the grasslands have juniper and some 
Douglas fir colonization. The Middle pasture is more or less transitional between rough fescue and and bluebunch 
wheatgrass habitat types with bitterbrush and sagebrush complexes interspersed within the grasslands Potential 
forage production is estimated to be 800-1200 lbs/acre biomass production per year. The Muddy Lake pasture is 
a high elevation pasture that is often not phenologically ready by the June 1 1 turn on date that it is supposed to 
accomodate once in 3 years. Within the Muddy Lake pasture, most of the suitable livestock range is composed 
of rough fescue grasslands. The existing condition of the vegetation overall is marginal. Productivity is generally 
30-50% below optimum or potential due to changes in the composition of plant species and the reduced vigor of 
the grazed plant species 

Riparian areas are not rested and have been used heavily historically Aspen and willow community types show 
little, if any, regeneration; understory species have been replaced with less desirable shrubs such as wild rose and 
currant; and native grasses have been replaced with stinging nettle and Kentucky bluegrass Slim Sam. South Fork 
Crow Creek, and portions of Jenkins Gulch are the most impacted riparian areas on the allotment 

A vegetation inventory was started in 1 988, and some riparian inventory work was done in 1 991 To date the data 
has not been analyzed and there is a still a considerable portion of the allotment that has not been examined 

The allotment has been grazed under a 3 pasture deferred rotation grazing system since at least 1967 The 
permitted use is for 604 cow/calf pairs from June 1 1 to October 15 for a total of 3,322 AUM s. 

The improvements on the allotment consist of pasture fences and water developments Several springs have been 
developed and reconstructed in recent years, but there are many more that need reconstruction The fences are 
in fairly good condition and typically require only annual maintenance 



21 



The current problems in this allotment include continued deterioration of the riparian areas poor distribution 
patterns in the Middle Pasture, and poor distribution overall due to inadequately distributed water developments 
Lastly, due to the elevational stratification of the pastures, it is difficult to properly manage livestock The 
elevation Spring Pasture isn't suitable in the fall because the vegetation is cured, and the high elevation Mi 
Lake pasture isn't suitable in the spring because the plants are still dormant or actively growing 

DAHLMAN C&H #106 (FS and Private) 

The Dahlman allotment is bounded by the Forest boundary on the south, the center of sections 29 and 32 T6N 
R1W on the east. Swamp Creek to the north and the Forest boundary with the Deerlodge to the west It includes 
6,090 acres, of which 2694 acres are suitable for livestock grazing 

Vegetation on the allotment consists primarily of large open parks of rough fescue Idaho fescue and bluebui I 
wheatgrass surrounded by Douglas fir stands There are very few sagebrush community types within the allotmei it 
Only a few scattered springs are found and there are virtually no riparian areas associated with stream channels 

The first allotment management plan was written in 1967 for only the Dahlman allotment wherein a season long 
grazing system was used. At this time the allotment was stocked with 250 cow/calf pairs from the middle of June 
to the middle of November with a two week break at the end of August. 

In 1976, the Elkhorn and Swamp Creek allotments were combined into Dahlman The allotment has been grazed 
under a 4 pasture deferred grazing system since that time The current permitted use is for 296 cow/calf pairs from 
June 16 to November 1 for a total of 1342 AUM's. 

Range improvements over the years have included fencing the pasture boundaries and developing the few springs 
on the allotment Most of these springs have involved pump stations and pipeline/trough systems, although there 
is one stockwater pond at Two Sam Spring. 

While the allotment has considerable suitable land for grazing, the limiting factor in distribution is water 
vegetation overall is in good condition; however, there are some areas near water that are heavily used Then 
also problems with containing cattle in individual pastures Reconnaisance work is needed to better understa,,^ 
how to manage livestock on this allotment. 

PASTURE C&H #109 (FS and Private) 

The Pasture allotment is located in the southwest corner of the Helena N.F portion of the Elkhorns It encompasses 
1049 acres of which 400 are on National Forest lands and 649 are on private land Of these total acres 993 acres 
are suitable for livestock grazing 

The allotment as a whole, combining public and private lands, has a mix of grassland types such as rough fescue. 
along with sagebrush/Idaho fescue and sagebrush/rough fescue types. There are small Douglas fir stands 
interspersed along the grasslands and shrublands. Some riparian areas exist at the heads of Sand Creek and Dry 
Creek. 

An allotment management plan was written in 1967. Because the majority of the suitable grazing land is on the 
private land, the management objectives were to either pursue a land exchange or to work with the permittees to 
get less use in order to improve deteriorating resource conditions. A reduction in the season and numbers was 
made in 1955 from 528 AUM's to 396 AUM's. And although the estimated grazing capacity was 289 AUM s. no 
further reduction was implemented in the 1967 plan. 

The current obligation is for 100 cow/calf pairs from July 16 to October 15 for 396 AUM's under a season long 
grazing system. The term permits are for 1 58 AUM's and the private land permits are for 238 AUM's. The allotment 
is wholly fenced with one water development, of which the condition is unknown. 

Not much is known about the condition of the vegetation resource or how the allotment is used. There are few 
notes and this area has not been inspected for several years. 



22 



WILSON S&G #111 

The 12,800 total acres in the Wilson allotment include 2 sections. The northern section covers an area from Crazy 
Creek to the north boundary of the Tizer allotment, and the southern section runs from the south boundary of the 
Tizer C&H south to Tizer Lakes. The allotment is entirely within the Helena Ranger District, although the Townsend 
Ranger District maintains administrative responsibilities on the allotment. 

This allotment was stocked with between 750 and 1200 sheep from 1940 (first records) and 1967 Records 
indicated that the first range deterioration was noted in 1957 and implication was made of the combined effects 
of a growing elk herd and sheep use on several of the smaller parks in the allotment Consistent overuse in these 
parks was noted until 1968 when the permittee took non-use A range analysis completed in 1965 (Stevens) 
indicated that elk and sheep competed for similar plants on summer range m this area. The allotment was 
subsequently considered for conversion to cattle, but the tremendous investment in fencing necessary to do so. 
made this option unfeasible. 

The allotment is currently vacant and the permit was terminated in 1975 Periodically, cattle have been grazed in 
Wilson Creek (from the Tizer allotment) and in Manley and Poe Parks. This latter use occurs one out of every three 
years by 50 cow/calf pairs for 2 weeks. These cows are from the South Crow C&H allotment. 

There is no current information filed on this allotment regarding the condition, although observations indicate that 
many of the parks have never recovered from the deteriorated condition of the 60s Elk use of these parks 
continues to be heavy. 

Even though the allotment is vacant, in order to officially close the allotment (or reissue the permit), an analysis 
and decision are needed which address the treatments which will help meet desired conditions for vegetation, 
wildlife, recreation, and other resources 

TIZER C&H #301 

The Tizer C&H Allotment, which covers 6,1 13 acres, lies within portions of two drainages. The eastern half of the 
allotment (1710 acres) forms the headwaters of Tizer Creek, and the western half (4403 acres) of the allotment is 
the within the headwaters of Prickly Pear Creek. The western most portion of the allotment runs to the Forest 
boundary, where it ad|Oins BLM and State Lands. The remainder of the allotment lies totally within the Helena 
National Forest 

For the most part this allotment is heavily timbered, with most of the forage base located in the parks and meadows 
that are scattered throughout the allotment. Of the 6,1 13 acres within the allotment boundary, only 192 (3%) have 
been delineated as primary range. 

Currently the allotment is grazed under a season-long grazing system by one permittee. Permitted numbers are 
43 cow/calf pairs from July 1 to September 1 for a total of 1 00 AUM's. The District records show that since at least 
1937, permitted use has, for the most part, been close to what is currently permitted except for the period of 
1946-1956 when the permit was for 100 head for about the same season. In 1956 the permit was reduced to its 
current levels. Because of the value of this area as big game summer range, the allotment was in non-use status 
for resource protection from 1988 through 1990 Beginning in 1991, the non-use status was granted for the 
personal convenience of the permittee. 

The last plan written for the Tizer Allotment was in 1 967 That plan prescribed both a two and three pasture deferred 
grazing system. It appears that neither of these systems work, primarily because the permittee does not support 
them. Since this plan is not being followed, and with the resource problems that have led to three years of non-use, 
an analysis that would evaluate whether or not to reissue this permit and/or an updated allotment management 
plan are needed. Many of the trails in the Elkhorns "terminate" in Tizer Basin, and year-round recreation use of the 
area is relatively heavy by both motorized and non-motorized users. In addition, the complex of wet meadows and 
timber provide high value summer range for deer, elk, moose, and mountain goats 



KIMBER DIORITE C&H #103 

The Dionte C&H allotment is relatively small, covering only 2338 acres. The north end extends almost to Whitehorse 
Creek and its southern boundary is the divide between Shep's Gulch and Whitehorse Creek The eastern hour- 
is the Forest boundary. The Forest allotment is one of 7 pastures included in a deferred rotation grazing sy 
with the ad|acent BLM and private lands. 

Vegetation on this allotment consists primarily of grassland habitat types with fringes of Douglas fir forest along 
the south, west and north sides. Grassland habitat types include bluebunch wheatgrass/ldaho fescue with some 
rough fescue/Idaho fescue at the higher elevations. The few riparian areas are confined mainly to spring areas and 
forested draws tbat have intermittent flow Approximately 30% of the allotment was burned in the Warm Springs 
fire of 1988 

This allotment was combined with the BLM and private lands in 1980. The allotment management plan written to 
direct the management of the seven pastures within all these lands includes direction for the Forest portion There 
are 110 cow/calf pairs permitted for a season extending from June 1 to October 15 (253 AUMs) on the Dionte 
allotment. Within the deferred grazing system, use on Dionte may occur early or late in the season of use 

Livestock management developments include the fence that encompasses the Forest allotment/pasture and one 
spring. The condition of these improvements is unknown. 

No evaluation or monitoring has been done on Dionte since the allotment management plan was written in 1980 

2. Bureau of Land Management 

A summary of the acres of public land, permitted AUM's and season of use is detailed below for each allotment 
(see figure 3) Other information, including a description of the ecological conditions if known, is located in the Crow 
Implementation Area document 



Allotment 


Acres 


Permitted AUMs 


Season of Use 


Rattlesnake 


208 


28 


5/16-10/31 


Missouri 


664 


74 


6/11-9/10 


Dowdy Ditch 


1788 


40 


5/1-6/15 even years 9/15-10/ 


15 odd 


Indian Creek 


2367 


376 


5/15-10/15 


Riverside School 


400 


60 


5/1 -6/20 


Whitehorse 


547 


88 


6/1-10/5 


Kimber/Diorite 


2250 


262 


5/15-10/15 


Cottonwood 


720 


58 


6/1-10/31 


Bald Hills 


802 


100 


5/15-9/13 


Section 33 


286 


5 


6/1-10/31 


Smith 


441 


81 


5/1-10/30 


Limestone East 


7830 


778 sheep 


11/2-3/3 


Limestone Hills 


12900 


1927 


5/31-9/30 



24 



BLM allotments are rated according to the management direction deemed needed to be m compliance with 
resource goals. The Criteria For classifying allotments are as follows: 

Category "M" 

1. Principal objective is to maintain or improve the existing situation 

2. Present resource conditions are satisfactory. 

3. Present management is satisfactory. 

4. Allotment has high vegetative productivity 

5. Resource conflicts are limited or non-existent. 

6. There may be positive economic return on public investments 
7 Compliance and cooperation has been satisfactory 

8. Range improvements are adequate. 

Category T 

1. The principal objective is to improve the existing situation. 

2. Present resource conditions are not satisfactory. 

3. Present grazing management practices will not meet long-term resource 
objectives. 

4 Allotment is producing below its potential 

5. Resource conflicts are evident. 

6. There is potential for positive economic return on public investments. 

7. Percent federal range is enough to make BLM management feasible. 

8. There is high public interest in the allotment. 

9. Range improvements are inadequate. 

10. Compliance and cooperation may not be satisfactory. 

Category "C" 

1 . The principal objective is to maintain the existing situation. 

2. Allotment has low vegetative productivity or low potential. 

3. Resource conflicts are limited or non-existent. 

4. Positive economic return on public investment is doubtful 

5. Percent federal range and/or acreage is too low to make intensive 
management by BLM feasible 

6. There is little or no public interest in the allotment. 

KIMBER/DIORITE #20227 (see also Kimber/Dionte under Forest Service) 

This allotment includes 2250 acres of public land managed under an allotment management plan which includes 
the private land and the Forest Service allotment. It is located on both sides on highway 287 about seven miles 
north of Townsend. 

Elevation varies from 3800 to 5200 feet. The vegetation is primarily mid-seral grasses with scattered shrubs and 
conifers. Grasses include Idaho fescue, bluebunch wheatgrass and blue grama. Several riparian areas are present 
Ecological condition is rated as follows: 

late serai 66% 

mid serai 34% 

There are 7 pastures that are used in a rest rotation system. There are several water developments on the allotment 

There is one permittee who is authorized for 262 AUMs. Cattle use occurs on the allotment from May 1 5 to October 
15. 

This allotment is categorized as I (improve resource conditions) and the problems identified include riparian habitat 
and weeds. A riparian exclosure has been built on Kelly Gulch and riparian conditions there have improved 



25 



The allotment management plan describes 5 pastures that are used in a rest rotation system which is designed 
to accomodate the National Guard training site. Approximately 300 acres along Indian Creek are included m an 
exclosure. The exclosure was built to help restore riparian and watershed values and is not being grazed a' 
time. 

Water developments on the allotment include 2 wells and numerous springs. Cattle also obtain water from Indian 
Creek as well as several undeveloped springs. A rider is employed by the permittee to manage the cattle and 
maintain the water developments and fences. 

There are 4 permittees who are authorized for 1 927 AUMs. Presently the permittees are using approximately 1 500 
AUMs. Yearling cattle are permitted on the allotment from May 31 to September 30. 

This allotment is categorized as I (improve current conditions) and the problems identified include livestock 
distribution, vegetative condition, riparian habitat, elk winter-spring range, conflicts with National Guard training, 
and poisonous plants. The allotment management plan addresses these problems and improvements are appar- 
ent at this time. Lack of sufficient water in several pastures has been a problem on the allotment Cooperation with 
the livestock permittee and the National Guard has been very good The rider has been critical to the improvement 
of this allotment 

COTTONWOOD COMMON #20275 

This allotment includes 720 acres of public land used in conjunction with private land It is located adjacent to the 
west Forest boundary and four miles NW of Radersburg. 

Elevation varies from 4550 to 5400 feet. Vegetation is mostly grass. Ecological condition is unclassified on the 
allotment There is a considerable amount of rock outcrop. 

There are two permittee who are authorized 58 AUMs Cattle are permitted on the allotment from June 1 to October 
31, 

This allotment is categorized as M (maintain current conditions) 

BALD HILLS #20279 

This allotment includes 802 acres of public land managed in conjunction with intermingled private land It is located 
west of the Missouri River on mile SW of Townsend 

Elevation varies from 3900 to 4600 feet Vegetation is mostly grass and sagebrush A wildfire m July 1989 burnt 
a portion of this allotment. Ecological condition is rated as follows 

late serai 77% 

mid serai 23% 

One permittee is authorized for 100 AUMs. Cattle are permitted on the allotment from May 15 to September 13 

This allotment is categorized as M (maintain current conditions). 

LIMESTONE EAST #20281 

This allotment includes 7830 acres public land managed in conjunction with intermingled private and state land 
It is located on the east side of the Limestone Hills 

Elevations vary from 3800 to 5500 feet. Vegetation includes grasses such as bluebunch wheatgrass, needle-and- 
thread grass and blue grama; numerous forbs; shrubs such as big and black sagebrush and rabbitbrush; and trees _ 
such as |uniper and limber pine A wildfire in July 1989 burnt a portion of the allotment on the north end The fire 
was extremely hot and recovery has been slow Ecological condition is rated as follows: 



28 



potential natural community 1% 

late serai 62% 

mid serai 37% 

There is one permittee who is authorized for 778 AUMs. Sheep are permitted on the allotment from November 2 
to March 3 

The sheep are intensively herded to facilitate proper use of the range There are several water developments on 
the allotment and the sheep also are able to utilize the snow when conditions warrant. 

This allotment is categorized as I (improve current conditions) and the problems identified include vegetative 
disturbance, vegetative condition, soil erosion, shrub decadence, and riparian habitat 

SMITH INDIVIDUAL #20286 

This allotment is 441 acres of public land used in conjunction with the private land It is located on the south end 
of the public land in the Limestone Hills. 

Elevation varies from 4000 to 4400 feet Vegetation is mostly grass Ecological condition is unclassified on the 
allotment. 

There is one permittee who is authorized 81 AUMs. Cattle are permitted on the allotment from May 1 to June 30 

This allotment is categorized as C (custodial grazing management) 

SEC 33 ALLOTMENT #20296 

This allotment includes 286 acres public land used in conjunction with private land It is located on the southwest 
corner of the public land in the Limestone Hills. 

Elevation varies from 4350 to 4800 feet Vegetation is big sagebrush, black sagebrush and mountain mahogany 
with grass. Ecological condition is rated as follows: 

potential natural community 40% 

mid serai 12% 

early serai 4% 

unclassified 44% 

There is one permittee who is authorized 5 AUMs. Cattle are permitted on the allotment from June 1 to October 
31. 

This allotment is categorized as M (maintain current conditions) 

G Recreation 

The following section will examine specific elements that bring together the overall existing conditions for 
recreation in the Crow Creek Implementation Area (Crow IA) These elements or characteristics contribute to the 
entire Elkhorn recreation setting. As with the Elkhorns overall, elements in the Crow IA include ROS settings, types 
of users, special features, transportation systems, types of recreation activities, and use conflicts and concerns 

1 Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (ROS) 

The characteristics of the Crow IA offer a variety of recreation experiences and opportunities While the majority 
of the area is classified as Roaded Natural (RN), Semi-Primitive Motorized (SPM) and Semi-Primitive Non-Motorized 
(SPNM) recreation classifications are also represented. 

As in the case of the Elkhorns overall, little data on recreational use levels exist for the Crow IA However 
observations of land managers indicate that hunting during the fall hunting season is responsible for the majority 



29 



of use in this area. Because of its close proximity to Townsend. fishing and dispersed camping are popular summer 
activities Other summer uses include hiking, horse riding, mountain bicycling, and off-road vehicle uses, as well 
as "pleasure driving". Winter activities are very limited because access is restricted to protect big game vt 
range. Some cross country skiing does occurs when snow conditions permit. Recreational mining, "history buf 
firewood cutting, berry picking and Christmas tree cutting are minor recreational uses that occur in the Crow IA. 

Relative to the entire Elkhorn Mountain Range, the Crow IA provides the largest area of recreation opportunities 
which are supported by the Roaded Natural classification. The extensive road system provides users with easy 
access opportunities for exploring the area by vehicle as well as to reach trailheads where non-motorized activities 
can begin. Because the major roads often parallel Crow Creek itself, this area provides many desirable dispersed 
camping spots that are used during the summer and fall months. The "mild" climate and lower elevations of Crow 
Creek, in comparison to other RN areas in the Elkhorns, result in a longer season of use. Especially considering 
lands administered by BLM which currently do not have restrictions on access, this extended season of use 
provides year-round opportunities for some activities like pleaure driving and mountain biking which are normally 
available only during summer months. This mild climate also restricts the pursuit of other activities like snowmobih- 
ing and cross-country skiing. 

2. Crow Creek Implementation Area Users 

Although the information is over 10 years old, the 1981 Elkhorn Wilderness Study documented that about 70% of 
the total Elkhorn recreation use occurred in the Crow Creek drainage (including Tizer Basin which accounted for 
about 50% the total use) Most users in this area were big-game hunters in the fall and visitors engaging in activities 
such as driving for pleasure, viewing wildlife, fishing, and camping. These general use patterns are thought to be 
valid today as well 

The Crow IA may experience more Broadwater County resident users than other areas of the Elkhorns due to its 
proximity to Townsend. Relative to other areas of the Elkhorns. it is estimated that the average recreational user 
in the Crow IA may be more "consumptive" oriented due to a past and present dependence on natural resources 
such as minerals or livestock forage. This in turn may influence the way such users view management of 
Elkhorns and how they use the area. While some Crow IA users may not favor the Forest Service wildlife 
recreation emphasis in the Elkhorns (relative to multiple uses), recently several Townsend civic groups have shown 
interest in developing economic opportunities for the county which take advantage of the surge in popularity of 
such tourism-based activities as wildlife viewing. 

3 Special Features and Setting 

Several attractions in the area draw (or have "marketing" potential) visitors and sightseers (see Figure 1) These 
include the "Old Woman's Grave" site on BLM lands in the Limestone Hills, the ghost town of Hassel on Indian Creek 
Road, the historic Eagle Guard Station in Eagle Basin, and Tizer Station in Tizer Basin. Other points of interest 
include the geologic formations of Limestone Hills, and the mining operations in Weasel and Indian Creeks 
Perhaps the most outstanding feature of the area is the scenery which includes Elkhorn and Crow Peaks, the lakes 
in Tizer Basin, and several water falls. The opportunities for hunting, fishing, camping, and hiking in combination 
with diverse scenery, abundant wildlife, and historic "remnants", make the Crow IA a popular area with locals and 
a potential draw for non-locals to visit and explore 

4 Recreation Activities 

HUNTING- Hunting is the most popular (based on user densities) recreation activity in the Crow IA Spring bear 
hunting occurs in the area from mid-April through mid-June While there is some hunting for upland birds during 
the fall, the vast majority of the hunting activity occurs during the big-game hunting season Big-game hunting 
begins during the archery season, early September, and extends through the general rifle season, the end of 
November. The primary big game hunted are elk and deer but a limited number of permits are also issued for 
antelope, moose, and goats. Traditional hunting camps are located along Crow Creek, in Tizer Basin, and in several 
areas near the Park Mines. Other camps are traditionally "packed-in" to the Longfellow Park area. 

FISHING- The major fishing opportunities are provided in Crow Creek, South Fork Crow Creek, and various Elk 
Lakes. Crow Creek offers good fishing for brook and rainbow trout fishing throughout its length There is eaby 
access to the creek from road #424 or from trail #109 Six of the seven lakes located in the Elkhorns are in the 



30 



Crow Creek watershed. South Fork Crow Creek and South Fork Crow Lakes are also fished for brook trout of varied 
sizes. The trail to these lakes is an easy hike and receives a high amount of use compared to other trails m the 
area. Most of the fishing within Tizer Basin (Tizer and Wilson Creeks) is associated with other recreation activities. 
Lake fishing for brook trout is popular at the motorized-accessible Tizer Lakes. For the hiker or horseperson. Hidden 
and Glenwood Lakes provide fishing for brook and cutthroat trout, respectively. 

CAMPING- Dispersed camping is popular in the Crow IA. A number of suitable dispersed camping areas are 
habitually used each year. These include a spot off road #424 where Crow Creek and South Crow meet, just below 
the trail head of #127 on South Fork Crow Creek, Crow Creek near the bridge where Weston Creek enters. Bear 
Creek, Hall Creek (which has one of the few outhouse facilities in the Elkhorns), and two places on BLM land near 
the Forest Boundary along Crow Creek. Several of these areas have been heavily impacted through repeated use. 
Impacts include water contamination by human wastes, littering, vegetation trampling and removal, and abundant 
fire ring establishment Camping also occurs adjacent to the Tizer Basin and Prickly Pear Roads There is also 
notable vehicle camping use near the Tizer lakes, and backpacker use at Glenwood and Hidden lakes. The western 
shoreline of the Tizer Lakes has been seriously impacted through overuse Very little ground vegetation remains 
in this area due to camping, fire-rings and off-highway vehicle use 

HIKING- Hiking trails provide the means for participating in various recreation activities as well as providing access 
to the remote backcountry of the Elkhorns and Tizer Basin. Most trails begin or end at Tizer basin where visitors 
can view Crow and Elkhorn Peaks, see elk, moose, and mountain goats, or fish at Tizer, Hidden, and Glenwood 
Lakes. 

Popular hikes include those to Crow Creek Falls and to the area lakes (South Fork, Leslie. Hidden and Glenwood) 
Other trails receive little use outside of the big-game hunting season. 

CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING- Cross-country skiing is limited in the Crow Creek watershed by the lack of consistent 
snow When snow allows, skiing allows for an up close look at several concentrations of wintering elk in this area 
from Forest Roads such as Weasel. Crow and Indian Creeks During lean snow years, because of the road 
restrictions from December 1-May 15, skiers may have to walk up to three miles before they reach snow 

Skiers use the trails, roads and open meadows in Tizer Basin, however access to the basin on the Pncklv Pear 
Road is quite rocky and as a result, the road can't be skied until it receives an adequate snow base There are 
no winter parking facilities provided near the Prickly Pear Road and the Forest Boundary Some skiers may avoid 
Tizer Basin due to the presence of snowmobile use 

OFF-HIGHWAY VEHICLES- Many types of off-highway vehicles are used within the Crow IA including ATV's, trail 
bikes, dune buggies, snowmobiles, and 4-wheel drive vehicles. Most of the existing OHV use occurs during the 
summer and fall. 

The core portion (Management Area E-2 ) in the Elkhorns is closed year-round to motorized vehicles. The Crow 
IA includes most of the big game winter range (Management Area E-1 ) in the Elkhorns; current restrictions prohibit 
motorized uses on winter range from December 1 to May 15. The Kimber and Weasel drainages are closed 
year-round to motorized uses except on designated routes (Weasel, Kimber, and Indian Creek Roads), which can 
be travelled outside of the winter closure period. Tizer Basin (Management Area E-3) is open to motorized vehicles 
on designated routes. The area is open to snowmobile use after November 30th. BLM lands in the Crow IA outside 
of the National Guard Firing Range, are open yearlong to all motorized uses at present. However, the BLM 
Resource Management Plan indicates a need to restrict access to enhance mule deer winter habitat and ensure 
public safety. When the firing range is active, no vehicles are allowed in the active firing area west of Old Woman s 
Grave Road. 

Because of the primitive nature of the roads, many of the roads in the Crow IA are popular with OHV riders 
However, because the roads are identified as Forest Development Roads, state law mandates that motorized 
vehicles must be street legal and drivers must be licensed to operate on them. The majority of ATV's, trail bikes 
and dune buggies which currently use these access routes are not licensed 

Motocross use of low elevation BLM lands has been gaining popularity near the town of Radersburg This use 
generally occurs in the spring months. This presents a conflict with private and adjacent Forest Service lands 



31 



(which are closed to motorized users until May 15th) Noise and trespass are the concerns on private lands On 
Forest lands, due to the spring closure, disturbance of wildlife and muddy roads are the primary concerns 

OUTFITTING- Little outfitting occurs in the Elkhorns during big game season due to the restriction of harves 
mature bull elk Local outfitters claim they cannot attract out-of-state clients to an area where only spike bulls 
be taken legally without a permit. Of the outfitting that does occur in the Elkhorns. most takes place in the Crow 
IA by 2 local outfitters. These outfitters have used less than ten "use days" in recent years. One outfitter promoted 
summer watchable wildlife trips in 1992. Outfitting base camps occur in Poe Park and Swamp. Crazy, and Beaver 
Creeks 

There have been no permits issued for outfitting on the Hele a Ranger District, although an authorized outfitter 
on the Townsend Ranger District may occasionally hunt in the Tizer Basin area. 

Outfitters are being encouraged to consider providing new and different services such as guiding watchable wildlife 
trips and horseback riding 

VIEWING WILDLIFE AND SCENERY- Scenery and wildlife photography and video taping are uses that are gaming 
popularity in this area due to it s easy access, status as a Wildlife Management Unit, and its reputation for 'big Dull 
elk". Both driving and hiking are popular means of travel to view scenery and wildlife in the Crow IA Currently, mere 
are no designated viewing sites or wildlife interpretative programs in place 

The diversity of the mountain range includes its scenery Popular scenic points include Manley and Poe Parks and 
Tizer Basin. Crow Creek Falls is another popular destination in spite of the mining disturbance ad|acent to the 
stream 

Elk, mule deer, and antelope are often visible from Highway 12/287 from Winston to Townsend during the winter 
months During other seasons, big game species are often visible from roads and trails where they traverse 
meadows and grassy parks Opportunities to see predators such as mountain lion and black bear are limited but 
definitely available to the astute observer. Smaller wildlife species, including a wide variety of bird life are viewable 
almost everywhere in Crow IA. 

RECREATIONAL MINERAL ACTIVITY- A limited amount of recreational mineral activity, including panning. rocK 
collecting and mine dump prospecting is estimated to occur in the Crow IA. Visitors are attracted primarily to areas 
that have had previous mining activity to explore and photograph old equipment and structures, collect rock 
specimens from dump piles, and possibly try their hand at panning if there is a nearby stream. Mining operations 
in Indian and Weseal Creeks are very obvious to visitors. Although much of this is on private lands, visitors do not 
often realize that. Users who have had a mining claim or two for many years will camp for a weekend on or near 
their claim and conduct their annual assessment work. 

HORSEBACK RIDING- Associated mainly with the archery and big-game hunting seasons, horseback riding 
occurs in those areas described under hiking. No stock trailheads exist within the Crow IA However, there are 
corrals at the Eagle Guard Station (in poor repair) that are used in conjunction with Trail #l 12 

MOUNTAIN BIKING- Due to the primary use of the area by Townsend residents (and the lack of marketing), 
mountain biking use is limited in the Crow IA at this time The terrain is suitable on many of the system roads and 
trails on both the BLM and Forest Service lands Biking is possible almost year-round 

SNOWMOBILING- The existing Forest Travel Plan allows snowmobile use off designated routes only m Tizer Basin 
after November 30th There are no snowmobile trailhead facilities or groomed or marked snowmobile trails in the 
Crow IA. Most of the snowmobile use in this area is on Prickly Pear Road and in Tizer Basin 

CABINS- Two administrative cabins are located in the Elkhorns, both found within the Crow IA These include the 
Tizer and Eagle Guard Stations in Tizer and Eagle Basins, respectively. In addition, there are several private cabins 
on patented claims and a few illegal "occupancy" cabins on Forest lands. The Tizer cabin is currently used by trail 
crews and other personnel from the Helena Forest and Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks It has 
recently been renovated. The Eagle Guard Station is being restored to include its original features Both ca 
have potential to be added to the cabin rental program In addition. Eagle Guard Station has potential to pro 
a visitor/interpretive facility 



32 



I 



FIREWOOD CUTTING AND CHRISTMAS TREES- Firewood cutting and Christmas tree gathering occurs in the 
Crow IA on a limited basis Firewood gathering has increased in those areas burned by the 1988 Warm Springs 
Fire due to the availability of dead wood. 

H Transportation System 

The transportation system and the condition of the roads has a strong influence on the amount of use the area 
receives. The Crow IA is accessed by an extensive road and trail network. Most of the roads (major and minor) 
were developed for mining and associated activities. The roads in this area are single-lane, low standard roads 
The road alignment is generally poor and suitable only for low speed traffic With the exception of a portions of 
the Crow Creek road, all the roads have native material surfaces There has been little maintenance done on most 
of the roads and as a consequence the travel surfaces are rough The roads in the Crow IA are described below 

1 Major Roads 

PRICKLY PEAR ROAD NO. 164- The Prickly Pear road is in the western portion of the area and serves as the 
principle access to Tizer Basin from the west. The road is 9.6 miles long (starting at the forest boundary). This road 
was established before the turn of the century and was built to access the Tizer Basin mining district This is a very 
primitive road that is open to motorized vehicles yearlong. The road is a county road to the |unction with Rd 4032 
and a forest road from the junction to Tizer Lakes. It receives year-round use by OHV's and 4 Wheel Drive vehicles 
Soils in this area are granitic, the road is poorly drained, and therefore erosion is a concern. There are 2 fords across 
Prickly Pear Creek Large boulders must be navigated along this road Both snowmobiles and skiers use this road 
in the winter, although winter parking is limited. There is a sign off the interstate interchange indicating Tizer Lakes, 
however, no signs exist warning potential users of the road conditions or limited use for highway-type vehicles 
Travel restriction signing does not meet Regional standards and is said to be confusing by the general public 

BULLOCK HILL LOOP ROAD NO. 4032- The Bullock Hill Loop road is in the western portion of the area and comes 
off the Prickly Pear road. This road is 8 6 miles long and was built for mining access The road is very primitive and 
is open to motorized vehicles yearlong This forest road passes through some patented mining claims without legal 
easements. Uses are similar to Road 164. In addition, this road provides access to several private mholdmgs 
several trailheads, and to Tizer Ranger Station Travel restriction signing does not meet Regional standards and 
is said to be confusing by the general public 

NORRIS GULCH ROAD NO. 621 - The Norns Gulch road provides a link between Crow Creek and Johnny Gulch 
in the southern portion of the area This primitive road is 9 2 miles long. The road crosses a patented mining claim 
without a legal easement Motorized vehicles are prohibited from using the road between December 1 and May 
1 5. Soils in the area are derived from limestone and sensitive to erosion during wet conditions The road is narrow 
adn drainage is poor Destination signing is confusing as there are many intersections along this road Use is 
concentrated during the big game hunting season. 

CROW CREEK ROAD NO. 424- The Crow Creek road provides the mam access into the area. This road receives 
regular maintenance and is easily navigated under most conditions by 2 Wheel Drive vehicles. The road has an 
aggregate surface from Radersburg to the National Forest Boundary, 3,7 miles, and the rest of the road has a native 
material surface. From the forest boundary the road extends 1 5.2 miles before terminating at the head of Hall Creek 
The road is closed to motorized use (at the forest boundary) from December 1 to May 1 5. There are no right-of-way 
problems on this road This road receives moderate to heavy spring to fall use Camping, fishing, scenic driving 
and hunting are the major attractions along this road. Travel restriction signing on the Forest Service portion of 
this road follows Montana Cooperative Road sign protocol and therefore meets Regional standards 

SOUTH FORK OF CROW CREEK ROAD NO. 277- The South Fork of Crow Creek road loops from the Crow Creek 
road up the South Fork of Crow creek and then down Jenkins Gulch back to the Crow Creek road. The primitive 
road is 7.6 miles long. The road is closed to motorized vehicles from December 1 to May 15 and crosses one 
patented mining claims without a legal easement. This road receives moderate use from spring to fall, with highest 
use occurring during the big game hunting season. It is suitable for 2 Wheel Drive vehicles under dry conditions 
Its terminus at the South Fork Crow Lakes trailhead is also a popular dispersed camping area during the summer 
months. The road parallels the creek within the floodplain for a portion of its length and has one ford near the 
terminus. 



33 



HOG HOLLOW ROAD NO. 61 4- The Hog Hollow road connects the South Fork of Crow Creek road with the Norns 
Gulch road Portions of this road were constructed for timber sales in the 1960s and 1970s and have good 
alignment and drainage. The remainder of the road, mainly the western portion, is a primitive road The road 
miles long. The road is closed to motorized vehicles from December 1 to May 1 5 and has no right-of-way prob. 
Most of the road can be easily navigated by 2 Wheel Drive vehicles. Use is heaviest during the big game hunting 
season. 

WEASEL CREEK ROAD NO. 405- The Weasel Creek road provides the main access for the eastern portion of the 
area. The road runs from Beaver Creek in the north to Crow Creek in the south The road is 15 5 miles long and 
is generally suitable only for 4 WD vehicles. The road is eroding where it crosses a portion of the Kleinschmidt Mine 
holdings (section 34) and is considered a severe safety hazard especially under icy conditions The road is closed 
to motorized vehicles from December 1 to May 1 5 and then serves as a designated route in an area closure from 
May 16 to Nov. 30. It crosses several patented mining claims without legal easements. Although use is highest 
during the big game hunting season, spring and summer use is moderate. This road provides access to several 
private inholdings. Some cross-country ski use takes place along this road during the winter months Travel 
restriction signing meets Regional standards. 

WESTON CREEK ROAD NO. 4031- The Weston Creek road connects the Weasel Creek road near Crow Creek 
with the Indian Creek road. The road is 4.5 miles long and is suitable for most vehicles during dry conditions The 
road is closed to motorized vehicles from December 1 to May 15, and has no right-of-way problems In addition 
to providing a loop between Crow Creek Road No 424 and Indian Creek Road No 360, this road provides access 
to the Eagle Guard Station The road has poor drainage in places. Travel restriction signing meets Regional 
standards. 

INDIAN CREEK ROAD NO. 360- The Indian Creek road follows Indian Creek from the forest boundary to the 
Weasel Creek road. The road provides the main access to the area from the east The road is 3.5 miles long and 
is suitable in dry conditions for 2 WD vehicles. There are no right-of-way problems on the National Forest portion 
of this road. Below the Forest Boundary, this is a county road which is maintained periodically. The road is closed 
to motorized vehicles from December 1 to May 15 at the Forest Boundary This road receives moderate use • 
spring to fall and provides access to private land inholdings. The mining ghosttown of Hassel is found alon 
road as well as other mining relics (Diamond Hill stamp mill) The lower end of this road winds through a sce,,.^ 
limestone canyon. 

KIMBER GULCH ROAD NO. 4189- This primitive road provides access to the northern portion of the area, 
connecting U.S. Highway 12 with the Weasel Creek road. The road is 6.7 miles long and is closed to motorized 
vehicles from December 1 to May 1 5 at the Forest Boundary. It serves as a designated route within an area closure 
from May 1 6 to Nov. 30. In spite of its status, there are concerns about public safety on this road due to its excessive 
grades and poor drainage. There is not legal right-of-way across private land east of the Forest Boundary. The 
private landowner would like to see this road closed to motorized traffic. At the Forest Boundary, there are no 
right-of-way problems with this road. Use is moderate from spring to fall and highest during the big game hunting 
season. This road provides access to private inholdings. Travel restriction signing meets Regional standards 

RIVER ROAD- This county road parallels the Missouri River from the Indian Creek Road near Townsend to the 
Radersburg Highway (285). It passes through some private and mostly BLM lands and is used to access a 
subdivision and several isolated homes and ranches This road provides river access for floaters and offers wildlife 
viewing of waterfowl, osprey, and bald eagles. 

OLD WOMAN'S GRAVE ROAD- This county road traverses the Limestone Hills connecting River Road (near 
Townsend) to the Radersburg Highway (285). The road is about 16 miles long and is open to motorized vehicles 
yearlong. This road has native surfacing and some steep sections, but is driveable by most 2 WD vehicles in dry 
conditions. Portions of this road are used by heavy vehicles in coniunction with the National Guard Firing Range. 
At either end of the road the boundary of the firing range is marked by warning signs Otherwise, signing is minimal 
Attractions along this road include the "Old Woman's Grave" cultural site and the unique geology of the Limestone 
Hogbacks through which the road traverses. Use is moderate year-round and includes vehicles. OHV's, and 
mountain bicycles. 



34 



2 Minor Roads 

In addition to the ma|or roads listed above there are many local roads in the area. These local roads are all 
single-lane roads with native material surfaces Generally these roads are in poor condition and are useable only 
by high-clearance vehicles. The figures listed below are only for roads on the National Forest inventory There are 
many more roads in the area, some only wheel tracks, that aren't listed m the inventory. As a part of this study these 
roads are being mapped and will be added to the inventory as soon as practicable The inventoried minor roads 
total 74.8 miles in length. The area was broken down into smaller areas to better describe the minor road system 

PRICKLY PEAR AREA- 2.2 miles. These roads are closed to motorized vehicles yearlong, except snowmobiles 
may use the roads after December 1. 

JOHNNY GULCH AREA- 1 0.4 miles. These roads are closed to motorized vehicles between December 1 and May 
15. 

SOUTH CROW AREA- 12 7 miles These roads are closed to motorized vehicles between December 1 and May 
15. 

MAIN CROW AREA- 1 8.9 miles. These roads are closed to motorized vehicles between December 1 and May 1 5 

INDIAN CREEK AREA- 17 7 miles. These roads are closed to motorized vehicles between December 1 and May 
15. 

KIMBER-WEASEL AREA- 12.9 miles. These roads are closed to motorized vehicles between December 1 and May 
15. 

LIMESTONE HILLS- 200+ miles These roads are open to motorized vehicles yearlong; National Guard Range 
has public restrictions from April-November. 

3, Area Closures 

In addition to several road closures, there are area closures for motorized vehicles in the Crow IA. These closures 
restrict motorized vehicles from entire areas or restrict vehicles to designated routes within defined areas (eg no 
off-road use allowed). The eastern portion of the area (Management Area E-1) is closed to ALL motorized vehicles 
between December 1 and May 15 From May 16 to November 30. the area south of Indian Creek is open to 
motorized uses including off-road use The area north of Indian Creek Road to Beaver Creek is closed to off-road 
use during the May 1 6- November 30 period. Vehicles may use designated routes during that period which include 
360, 405, and 4189 This area closure is difficult to enforce since the topography and vegetation are gentle and 
open enough for vehicles to physically traverse. 

The roadless portion of the Crow IA (Management Area E-2) is closed to all motorized vehicles yearlong Vehicles 
may use only designated routes in Tizer Basin (Management Area E-3) with one exception Snowmobiles may travel 
off-road after November 30 in Tizer Basin. 

4 Open Road Densities 

The entire National Forest lands in the area contains 1 46 square miles and contains 1 58 miles of inventoried roads 
open during hunting season. This results in an overall open road density of 1.08 miles of road per square mile of 
area. It must be remembered that this is only for inventoried (mapped) roads, and in much of the area there are 
many miles of non-inventoried roads. As an example, road density calculated using the travel plan map for the Crow 
area (Johnny Gulch to Indian Creek) was 1.51 miles/section compared to 2.92 miles/section using the transporta- 
tion "B" maps and photos (Vore 1991) In the Kimber/Weasel area, travel plan open road density was found to be 
0.86 miles/section and the "B" maps and photos demonstrated a road density of 2.61 miles/section 



35 



The open inventoried road density varies by area within the overall area. 

Prickly Pear Area - 0.46 mi/mi 2 

Johnny Gulch Area - 1.23 mi/mi 2 

South Crow Area - 1.13 mi/mi 2 

Main Crow Area - 1.04 mi/mi 2 

Indian Creek Area • 2 65 mi/mi 2 

Kimber-Weasel Area - 1.35 mi/mi 2 

Open road densities on the BLM lands are extremely high in both the Radersburg area and the Limestone Hills. 
Most of these roads are composed of steep, rough "2-tracks" Road density in the Limestone Hills was recently 
estimated at about 5 miles/section. 

5. Trail System 

Approximately 90 miles of "system" trail occur within the Crow IA. About 2/3 are located on the Townsend Ranger 
District, and the other 1/3 on the Helena Ranger District. There are no identified trails on BLM lands. 

Within the Crow IA, the predominant uses on system trails include hiking and horse riding. Although limited, 
mountain biking, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling also take place on some system trails. Although there 
is substantial summer use on the trails that provide access to fishing (lakes and streams), the majority of the use 
on the trail system occurs during the fall big-game hunting season. It's estimated that trails within the area are used 
by 100 to 500 travelers per season. 

Existing trails generally do not meet established standards. They are in need of various degrees of reconstri. 
or reloction to correct narrow treads, excessive grades and erosion In addition there is a lack of consistent trail 
signing. At this time only signs on the Helena District trail signs meet regional sign standards Additional assur- 
ance" markers (such as blazes or rock cairns) are needed in several trail locations in the Crow IA. 

There is a need to obtain legal right-of-way for the following trails: Crow Creek Trail #109, Iron Mine Trail #1 1 1, 
Moose Creek Trail #114, and the Leslie Lake Trail #131 Although trail access has not been restricted, these trails 
pass through private property. 

Descriptions of the system trails follow. 

SWAMP CREEK TRAIL NO. 108 (S13 6N 2W)- The trailhead is signed but not to R-1 standards Access is from 
a |eep trail off Forest Road 277. This trail, which is approximately 4 5 miles in length, is used for hunting and moving 
cattle. Very little hiking occurs. This trail links the South Fork of Crow Creek to Two Sam Springs and the Johnny 
Gulch Road. This trail has no motorized use restrictions 

CROW CREEK TRAIL NO. 1 09 (S23 6N 1 W)- This trail traverses 7.8 miles along Crow Creek. This trail begins along 
Crow Creek at the Forest Boundary. The entry point is on a jeep trail 3/4 mile before the boundary off Forest Road 
424. The FS does not have legal right-of-way across this private land (owned by Jack Smith) The trail has 3 
additional entry points: 1) just above the Crow Cr. bridge on a jeep trail near one of the two dispersed campsites 
located there, 2) at the Crow Cr. "jump off trail 129. This is signed on rd. 424 with an older standard that included 
the hiker symbol and the trail no. on retlectorized materials, and 3) a jeep trail at the junction of rd. 4031 and 405 
which leads to Crow Cr. and trail 109. There is a dispersed camping site at this location. Although the jeep road 
leads to a patented mining claim (and therefore is not signed) , the public still uses the area for camping and fishing. 

Trail 1 09 is open to motorized vehicles from the Forest boundary to Bear Cr. in Sec. 32. From there to Tizer E 
it is closed to motorized vehicles except for a small section in Management Area E-3 which allows snowmobik 
after November 30. Trail 1 09 parallels Crow Creek from the Forest boundary into Tizer Basin where it joins with rd. 
4022, which is passable only by 4 wheel drive vehicles or other types of OHVs. Signs along this trail include those 



36 



at the 4 access points, at the |unction with rd. 4022, and at the junction with the Clear Creek Trail #1 12 in Sec 
23. Only the latter 2 signs meet Regional standards (routed white oak). 

A mapr attraction along this trail is Crow Creek Falls. The falls itself is adjacent to a 20 acre patented mining claim. 
The trail also crosses this claim for which there is not legal access; however, at this time the public is not being 
prohibited from crossing. The waterfall on Little Tizer Creek as it plunges into Big Tizer Creek is also visible from 
trail 109. 

This trail receives the most traffic of any trail in the Townsend District portion of the Elkhorns except trail 127 that 
goes to South Fork Lakes. A traffic counter was placed at the Crow Cr. "|ump off" entry point from July to November 
It registered 265 users on November 5 when it was removed. 

TIZER POE PARK TRAIL NO. 1 1 (S36 7N 2W)- This trail is accessible from Forest Road 424 about 1 3 miles from 
the Forest Boundary There is a sign at the road |unction which has a hiker-symbol and the trail number This does 
not conform to Regional standards The sign indicating travel restrictions does meet standards The "trailhead" is 
on the road itself, and parking is limited to one or two vehicles Trail 1 1 was called the Poe Park Drive Way because 
at one time it was used to drive cattle to Poe Park and Manley Park. Prior to its closure to motorized travel in 1 984. 
this trail was used by snowmobiles to get to Tizer Station. This trail offers the shortest hiking route into Tizer Basin 
In addition, from this trail there is a great view of Tizer Basin and Manley Parks and a high probability of seeing 
wildlife from and in Poe Park Many hunters use this trail. This trail is listed in the Montana Hikers Guide 

This trail joins with trail #130 in Sec. 22. T7N, R2W The trail is signed at the (unction with Forest Road 4032 
Additional trail signs are located at the junction of the Little Tizer Creek Trail in Sec. 27 and the Manley Park Trail 
in Sec 28 These latter signs meet Regional standards 

Most of the length (about 3.5 miles) of this trail is located within a yearlong motorized vehicle closure area The 
portion in Tizer Basin is located within a seasonal motorized restricted area permitting only snowmobile use and 
only after November 30th. 

LONGFELLOW/CLEAR CREEK TRAIL NO. 112 (S33 7N 1W)- This trail is signed on Forest Road 405 near Eagle 
Station and again at Eagle Station. The trailhead actually starts 1/2 mile from Eagle Station from a jeep road. The 
sign on road 405 is to R-1 standards but the sign at Eagle is not. This trail eventually accesses Tizer Basin. It also 
accesses Beaver Creek via trails 138 and 115. Routed oak trail signs were recently installed along this trail as far 
Crazy Creek. This is a great wildlife viewing trail as it goes through both large and small grassy parks. Most of the 
use is associated with hunting. With the exception of the first 2 mile (on the jeep road), the 1 1 miles this trail spans 
is closed to motorized vehicles. 

This trail is accessible on the Helena District from trails #109 and #114. The trail is signed at the following trail 
junctions: Crow Creek Trail #109, Moose Creek Trail #114 and Crazy Creek Longfellow Trail #133. These signs 
meet Regional standards. There is no trailhead for this trail on the Helena District. 

BEAVER CREEK TRAIL NO. 1 1 5 (S1 6 8N 1 W)- This trail is signed on Pole Creek Road #491 just inside the Forest 
Boundary. This sign is not to R-1 standards. This trailhead was moved to this location in 1987 because the original 
trail head was located on private ground. The Warm Springs fire of 1988 almost completely burned the Beaver Cr. 
drainage, and portions of the 1 1 miles along this trail are dangerous during windy conditions due to blowdown 
The initial portion of the trail is narrow but follows an old road bed that parallels Beaver Creek for the first few miles. 
This trail receives little use; it is hard to follow because of lack of tread and blazes, and is very steep in places. For 
the very hearty, 1 1 5 intersects 1 1 2 in Crazy Cr. for access into Tizer basin; from the intersection with 1 1 6 in Sheep 
Park, access is provided to either Casey Meadows or Pole Creek. 

The first two miles of this trail are open to snowmobiles (after Nov.30); all other motorized vehicles are prohibited. 
There are no improvements at the trailhead. The trail is signed at the following three trail junctions: Clear Creek 
Trail #112, Elk Park Trail #113 and the South Fork Trail #138. These signs meet Regional standards. A portion 
of this trail is used for the Elkhorn 100 Ultramarathon Race. 

SHEEP PARK TRAIL NO. 116 (S13 8N 2W)- This short (2.1 miles) trail providing access to Sheep Park is signed 
at the junction with trail 343 (Casey Meadows) and at the junction with 117 (Horsethief Park). Neither sign meets 



37 



I 

Regional standards. The trail diamonds also have the trail # on them. At its other end, (junction w/1 15), the trail 
was damaged in 1988 from fire; it is not signed there. This trail is used for the Elkhorn 100 Ultramarathon Race. 

POLE CREEK HORSETHIEF PARK TRAIL NO. 117 (S16 8N 1W)- This trailhead is located just inside the F 
Boundary on Forest Road #491. The sign at the trailhead does not meet Regional standards. Trail 1 17 folio 
steep jeep road for the first mile. Much of the 3.4 mile trail is within the 1988 fire perimeter and is very rough and 
rocky. The little use it receives is for access into Casey Meadows or to Horsethief and Sheep parks This trail is 
closed to motorized vehicles; however, snowmobiles are permitted after November 30th There are no improve- 
ments at the trailhead. 

SOUTH FORK CROW CREEK TRAIL NO. 127 (S13 6N 2W)- This trail is signed on Forest Road 424 at the Hog 
Hollow intersection, on Road 277 1/4 mile from the Hog Hollow intersection, and again at the |unction of 277 and 
a jeep trail that accesses the trailhead. Signs at 424 and 277 meet Regional standards; the signs at 277 and the 
ieep trail do not. Trail 127 receives the most use of any trail within the Townsend District portion of the Elkhorns 
The camping dispersed area at the trailhead is used from the time fishing season opens until hunting season ends 
This short (2.0 miles) trail leads to S. FK. Crow Cr lakes along a grade easily walked by all family members 

HALL CREEK TRAIL NO. 128 (S31 7N 1W)- This trailhead is known locally as Hall Cr Campground due to the 
presence of dispersed camping sites and an outhouse. There are no trail signs at the trailhead The gray diamond 
plastic blazes are marked with "128". From the camping area, the 1 5 miles of trail goes two ways, down hill 
accesses the |unction with trail #109 (no signs), and up-hill leads to the (unction with trail #1 10 (Poe Park) A sign 
(not to standard) marks this latter junction. Most of the horse users park at the Hall Cr Campground to access 
trail #110 since parking is easier. This dispersed camping area receives light use in the summer and moderate 
use during hunting season. This trail occurs within a non-motorized area. 

CROW CREEK JUMP-OFF TRAIL NO. 129 (S32 7N 1W> This trail provides one of 4 entry points to trail 109 This 
trail consists of 1/2 mile of switch backs leading down to Crow Creek There is a sign and a parking area, but no 
other improvements 

CRAZY LONGFELLOW CREEK TRAIL NO. 133 (S19 7N 1 W)- This trail has no trailhead It intersects trail 112 
Longfellow Creek Although signed at the junction with trail 112, the sign is not to regional standards This ti 
referred to as the "low trail" travelling 4.5 miles and giving access to Tizer Basin via a second junction with toil 1 1 2 
near Clear Creek 

FALLS CREEK TRAIL NO. 134 (S29 7N 1W)- This trail has no trailhead It intersects trail 112 above Eureka Cr 
and provides a 2.4 mile link between trail 1 1 2 and trail 1 09 (Crow Creek) near Crow Creek Falls Trail 1 34 is signea 
at the junction with trail 1 12 (not to standard), but not at the junction with 109. It is used mostly by by cows and 
hunters, but is an excellent trail for viewing wildlife in the spring and fall. The trail traverses 2 large grass/ sage parks 

LONG PARK TRAIL NO. 135 (S16 7N 1W)- This trailhead begins at the top of Eureka Ridge Originally a jeep road 
it was converted to a trail in 1984 This road originally terminated at the mill site at Crow Creek Falls Trail 135 is 
4 5 miles long, it crosses 134 and ends at the junction with trail 109. It is is used mostly by hunters, but also by 
ranchers to check cows. A miner occasionally obtains a permit to use it to access a claim in Eureka Creek The 
sign at the trailhead is not to Regional standards. This trail is in a yearlong motorized area closure 

SOUTH BEAVER CREEK TRAIL NO. 1 38 (S21 8N 1 W)- This trail has no trailhead, but provides access to the South 
Fork of Beaver Creek. It junctions with trail 115 where the South Fork joins the main stem of Beaver Creek It also 
junctions with trail 1 12 at the head of Crazy Creek. 7.0 miles long, this trail receives little use since it was nearly 
obliterated by the 1988 Warm Springs Fire. The entire trail is closed to motorized vehicles. 

IRON MINE TRAIL NO. 1 1 1 (S36 7N 3W)- Access to this trail is via Forest Road 1 64 in Sec 32, T7N. R2W which 
is passable only by off-highway vehicles. There is also access to this trail from the Deerlodge Forest (but on private 
land) to the south The Helena Forest does not have legal right-of-way through the private land at the Iron Mine 
The trail is signed at the junction with Forest Road 164. An additional trail sign was erected at the other end of the 
trail. Trail signs meet Regional standards. Their are no trailhead improvements The entire 2 5 mile trail segm°"' 
is located within a yearlong motorized vehicle closure area Although used primarily for hikers and pack and s; 
stock, a limited amount of mountain bike use may also occur on this trail 



38 



ELK PARK TRAIL NO. 1 1 3 (S35 8N 2W)- In Sec. 1 7, T7N, R2W, this trail is accessible via Forest Roads 1 64 and 
4032. These roads are passable only by 4 wheel drive vehicles and other types of OHVs The trail is signed near 
its junction with Forest Road 4032. Additional signs are located at the following trail junctions Moose Creek Trail 
#114, Beaver Creek Trail #115 and the McClellan Creek Trail #302. Signs meet Regional standards There are 
no trailhead improvements. The trail is 5. 1 miles in length. Half the trail is located within a yearlong motorized vehicle 
closure area. The remainder of the trail is located within a seasonal motorized restricted area The seasonal 
restriction prohibits 4x4 vehicles, ATVs, and trailbikes yearlong, but permits snowmobile use after November 30th 
This trail is a segment of the Elkhorn 100 Ultramarathon Race. 

MOOSE CREEK TRAIL NO. 114 (S4 7N 2W)- In Sec. 15, T7N, R2W, this trail is accessible via Forest Roads 164 
and 4032. Both of these roads are passable only by 4 wheel drive vehicles or other types of OHVs The trail is signed 
near its junction with Forest Road 4032. Additional trail signs were also erected at the junctions with the Elk Park 
Trail in Sec. 4 and the Clear Creek Trail in Sec. 15. These signs meet Regional standards There are no trailhead 
improvements 

The first 1.5 miles of the trail (Sec. 9 & 15) follows an old roadway This "road", which is gated provides access 
to a private mining claim m Sec 15 and 16 The property owner has a key to the gate This route also provides 
occasional motorized access to unpatented mining claims located in Section 9. The Helena Forest does not have 
legal right-of-way access through the private land (mining claim) in Sections 15 and 16 The trail is 4 4 miles in 
length and forms the boundary between two different motorized restriction areas There does not appear to be clear 
Forest policy regarding use of snowmobiles on the trail itself. 

MANLEY PARK TRAIL NO. 129 (S20 7N 2W )- In Sec 28. T7N R2W, this trail is accessible via Forest Roads 164 
and 4032. Both of these roads are passable only by 4 wheel drive vehicles or other types of OHVs. The trail is signed 
at the termini adjacent to Forest Road 4032. An additional sign was erected at the junction with trail #130 Signs 
meet Regional standards There are no trailhead improvements The entire 1 5 mile trail is located within a seasonal 
motorized restriction area. The area is closed yearlong to 4x4 vehicles, ATVs and trailbikes. but is open to 
snowmobiles after November 30th. 

LITTLE TIZER CREEK TRAIL NO. 1 30 (S22 7N 2W)- In Sec 32. T7N. R2W. this trail is accessible via Forest Roads 
164 and 4032. Both of these Forest Roads are passable only by 4 wheel drive vehicles or other types of OHVs 
The trail is signed at the two previously identified road junctions. Additional signs were installed at the following 
trail junctions: Crow Creek Trail #110, Manley Park Trail # 1 29 and an unnamed trail located in Sec 28. Signs meet 
Regional standards. There are no trailhead improvements The entire 2.7 mile trail is located within a seasonal 
motorized restriction area. The area is closed yearlong to 4x4 vehicles, ATVs and trailbikes, but is open to 
snowmobiles after November 30th. 

LESLIE LAKE TRAIL NO. 131 (S32 7N 2W)- This trail is accessible via Forest Road 164 which is passable only 
by 4 wheel drive vehicles or other types of OHVs. The trail is signed at the junction with trail #130 in Sec 32 An 
additional sign was erected |ust prior to the Ballard Mine Signs meet Regional standards The mam access for this 
trail is from Forest Road #8578 on the Deerlodge Forest Access to the trail and a portion of the trail are located 
on the Ballard Mine. No legal right-of-way has been obtained One of the owners of the private land has indicated 
a desire to exchange land parcels with the Forest Service. The entire 2.4 mile trail segment located on the Helena 
Forest is within a yearlong motorized vehicle closure area. 

HIDDEN LAKE TRAIL NO. 1 53 (S32 7N 2W)- In Sec. 6, T6N, R2W, this trail is accessible via Forest Road 1 64 which 
is passable only by 4 wheel drive vehicles or other types of OHVs Currently, the trail is not signed at the junction 
with Road 164 There are no trailhead improvements. The entire 9 mile trail is located within a yearlong motorized 
vehicle closure area. It should be noted that there are frequent violations of the motorized closure by trailbikes and 
ATVs. The majority of the use on this trail is during the summer months. 

GOLDEN AGE CUTOFF TRAIL NO. 352 (S21 7N 2W)- In Sec. 1 5, T7N, R2W, this trail is accessible via Forest Roads 
164 and 4032. Both of these Forest Roads are passable only by 4 wheel drive vehicles or other types of OHVs 
The trail is signed at both of these road junctions. Signs meet Regional standards. There are no trailhead 
improvements. The entire 0.8 mile trail is located within a seasonal motorized restriction area. The seasonal 
restriction prohibits 4x4 vehicles, ATVs and trailbikes, but permits snowmobile use after November 30th The 
majority of use on this trail occurs during the fall big-game hunting season. 



3y 



I Visual Quality 

The Forest Plan goal is to provide forest visitors with visually appealing scenery Appendix B to the Forest P' 
assigned visual sensitivity levels to viewing points and corridors where maintenance of visual quality was a coni 
Site specific guidelines for altering the landscape, or visual quality objectives (VQO's), are also listed. 

The visual management system used by National Forests to help guide management of the visual resource is 
outlined in the publication National Forest Landscape Management, Volume 2, Chapter 1 (Agricultural Handbook 
Number 462) 

The Forest Plan assigned a general VQO to each of the Elkhorn Management Areas. E-1 = modification. E-2 = 
retention (which includes Elkhorn Peak and Crow Peak): and E-3 = partial retention (which includes Forest Road 
164), within the Elkhorns The assigned VQO's loosely correlate to the Recreation Opportunity Spectrum "setting" 
indicator of Naturalness. Another reason for assigning a modification VQO in the E-1 management area was to 
allow treatment of trees and shrubs which were "encroaching" on grasslands. 

The Elkhorn Mountains are in the Broad Valley Rockies landscape character type The areas of Crow and Elkhorn 
Peaks, S. Fork Crow Creek, and the 40-foot high Crow Creek Falls meet criteria for Variety Class A (Distinctive) 
within this character type 

In addition to the VQO's. the Forest Plan states (HI/78) that to the degree possible, the high visual resource area 
around Elkhorn and Crow Peaks will be managed so as to maintain existing roadless and visual resource values 
and to minimize the impact of human activities 

The Crow IA contains natural and cultural features that lend themselves to dispersed recreation uses Scenic 
quality is an important feature of many recreation activities, which include hiking, watching and photographing 
wildlife, and hunting and fishing. 

Foreground and middleground views of the Elkhorns, as seen from major travelways, initiate viewing of the Cr^"» 
IA. Within the Crow IA, these lands include both private and public lands managed by the BLM This foregrr 
landscape is characterized by flat to slightly sloping grasslands broken by the rise of the foothills and the pai. 
limestone "hogback's" 

Background views are quite different from the foreground and middleground views Background views show 
evidence of glaciation including cirques, glacial trough walls, and morrames. The landscape is characterized by 
rounded ridges, steep slopes with rock outcrops, cliffs, and two dominant mountains, Elkhorn and Crow Peaks 
Grassy slopes and large open parks break up the continuous conifer stands Numerous creeks and several small 
lakes further contribute to a landscape of moderate to high diversity and moderate to high scenic qualities The 
peaks and large open parks provide panoramic vistas, both within the Elkhorns themselves, as well as of the 
surrounding mountain ranges. 

Deviations in visual quality result from changes in the characteristic landscape in either form. line, color or texture. 
Within the Crow IA, mining, timber harvest, prescribed burning, cattle grazing, and signing have all affected visual 
quality. 

Evidence of mining and associated wheel tracks or dozer-constructed roads can be seen within the Crow IA 
especially in Tizer Basin and from the mam access roads The landforms created by past mining activities contrast 
visually to those of the characteristic landscape in form. At many sites vegetation has not grown back, leaving bare 
soil and mounds. 

Past timber harvest has occurred in Hall Creek and S. Fork Crow Creek (Hog Hollow area). Several large clearcuts 
can be seen to the south from Eagle Guard Station. Although noticeably different from the surrounding landscape 
in texture, the units generally mimic natural openings in the area in line and form 

Recent prescibed burning is visually apparent near Eagle Guard Station with the Crow IA The black sagebn" 
skeletons and dead conifers dominate the foreground views and are incongruent with natural colors and texti 



40 



Visual impacts from grazing in the Crow IA include inconsistencies in texture, color, and line Changes m texture 
from the natural features include bare spots and beaten out areas near watering structures (stock tanks) and m 
salting areas. Additional impact areas occur where stream banks are broken down, and the vegetation is cropped 
very close to the ground in many riparian areas. Visual impacts of intensive grazing are especially evident along 
Eagle, South Crow, and Indian Creeks. In several areas, fences create straight lines which appear unnatural in the 
landscape. In addition, there is a high contrast in the color and texture of vegetation from one side of a fence to 
the other (between grazed and ungrazed areas). Some stock tanks seen from roads and trails are mcongruent with 
the form and color of the surrounding landscape. 

The signing within the area detracts from the visual quality Signs are inconsistent both within and across land 
ownership boundaries; these signs vary in material, colors, and state of repair 

One goal listed in the Forest Plan (1986) is to provide forest visitors with visually appealing scenery. Appendix B 
to the Forest Plan assigned visual sensitivity levels to viewing points and corridors where maintenance of visual 
quality was of greatest concern. Site specific guidelines for altering the landscape, or visual quality obiectives 
(VQO'S), are also listed. The following sensitivity level 1 viewing areas are listed for the vicinity of the Crow IA 
Highway 1 2. 1-1 5, Highway 287, Canyon Ferry Lake, State Road 284 North. Glenwood Lake. Hidden Lake, and Tizer 
Lakes. The VQO for foreground views (to 1/2 mile) from these viewing areas is retention The VQO for midground 
and background viewing is partial retention. Adjacent BLM lands and private ranch lands occupy foreground and 
midground views from many of the sensitive viewing areas listed above 

J Special Uses 

The primary special use in this area of the Elkhorns is the right-of-way agreement between the BLM and the National 
Guard which authorizes the use of about 20,000 acres m the Limestone Hills as a training range Authorized 
activities include firing of tanks and other weapons, helicopter training: infantry maneuvers and firing exercises, 
and training of various support groups The grant was issued m 1984 for a period of 32 years. The season of use 
is restricted to the period from the second Monday in April to November 30th of each year. This restriction attempts 
to minimize impact to the large number of wintering mule deer in the area. Most of the activity takes place from 
June through September between Thursday night and Sunday afternoons Currently most activity and all weapons 
firing occurs west of the Old Woman's grave road. During live firing exercises, the entire area west of the road is 
secured and closed to the public. The area to the east of the road remains open Tracked vehicles usea Dy the 
National Guard are restricted to existing roads (about 200 miles of road in 16 sections) 

Additional special uses include the Bonneville Power Authority (BPA) 500-kV powerline corridor accross the BLM 
lands in the Limestones and Johnny Gulch, and a powerline corridor for a 1 14 kV line that supplies the mines in 
the Weasel Creek area on the Helena National Forest. 

K. Minerals 

Existing hard rock minerals activities on National Forest lands m the Crow IA are summarized using the mining 
districts that were found in the area. These include the Tizer-Wilson, Radersburg, and Park-Indian mining districts 

TIZER-WILSON 

Existing disturbance based on historic activities includes the following (based on 7 1,2 topographic maps which 
indicate where prospects, adits and shafts are located) 

Drainages: Tizer, Little Tizer, Wilson. Crazy. Prickly Pear, upper Crow 

Roads; 20 miles reported in 1978 (US Geological Survey and US Bureau of Mines Wilderness 

Study, 1978), with varying degrees of accessibility 



41 



Prospect pits: 52 on FS and private land within FS boundary 

Adits/shafts: 25 on FS and private lands within FS boundary 

Open pits: 2+ acres 

Placer tailings: 5 miles along Tizer Creeks, Wilson, upper Crow Creek 

Disturbed acres: estimate = 41 acres. 

Recent mining activity in the Tizer-Wllson area is best described as sporadic and small-scale, conducted primarily 
with hand tools for recreational purposes or to perform annual assessment work on unpatented claims Activity 
is primarily placer-related. Areas of interest for placer activity are Crow, Tizer, Little Tizer. Moose, and Wilson 
Creeks. Localized water quality and quantity degradation occurs as a result of these types of mining. Old lode 
mines have also attracted interest periodically: however, little new surface disturbance has resulted Less than 1 2 
acre is estimated to have been disturbed during this recent times from mineral activity Some motorized access 
occurs into otherwise restricted areas for claim owners to conduct assessment work 

RADERSBURG 

Existing disturbance based on historic mining activities is as follows: 

Drainages: Crow, South Crow, Eagle, Jenkins, Eureka (perennial) 

Roads: Most due to mining activity. 

Prospects: 21 on FS, 46 on BLM 

Adits/shafts: 7 on FS, 18 on BLM 

Placer tailings: 1 mile. Crow. South Crow on public lands 

Disturbed Acres: about 20 acres on public lands 

Mineral activity on Forest lands in the Radersburg area since 1980 includes annual assessment activities, approxi- 
mately 500 feet of reconstructed road, several underground exploration proiects, 3-5 hand dug prospect pits. 2 
illegal occupancy cabins burned, and 12 exploration drill holes. 

PARK-INDIAN CREEK 

i 
Existing disturbance based on historic mining activities is as follows: 

Drainages: Indian Creek, West Fork Indian Creek, upper Crow Creek, Jenkins Gulch Eagle Creek, Eureka Creek 

Hall Creek 

Roads: 33+ miles, many to minimum standards and with varying degrees of 

accessibility 
Prospect Pits: 163 on FS and private land within FS boundary, 41 on BLM: 275 

total 
Adits/shafts: 39 on FS and private land within FS boundary. 5 on BLM 45 total 
Open Pits:? 

Placer tailings: 3 miles for Crow Creek, Eureka Creek and Indian Creek on FS lands, approx 13 miles total (FS. 
BLM. private (primarily Indian Cr). 

Disturbed Acres: 37 acres on FS, 287 acres total (Indian Cr. tailings averaged at 200 feet wide on BLM/pnvate. 
remaining acres calculated using method outlined for Tizer-Wilson area above) 

Mineral activity on public lands in the Park-Indian Creek area has been relatively extensive m the recent period 
Relative to gold, a large-scale exploration drilling project has been conducted since 1987 in the vicinity of the old 
Diamond Hill Mine in Indian Creek on BLM and private lands. Activity on Forest lands related to the project has 
included 800 feet of new road, drill pads, and 29 drill holes. This disturbance is slated to be reclaimed in 1992 On 
BLM lands, exploration for gold in this area included 93 drill holes, 2250 feet of road construction, 600 feet of 
trenching, and the reopening of one historic adit 

Other gold exploration along Indian Creek on both patented private land and BLM lands has also been occurring 
Approximately 20 acres of disturbance on BLM lands has occurred since 1980. 



42 



Another recent gold mine-related disturbance has occurred from the Hawkeye Placer operation in the vicinity of 
Crow Creek Falls. Approximately 1800 feet of new and reconstructed road was built on Forest lands in the early 
1980's with a placer mining area excavated and trailers and equipment installed at the base of Crow Creek Falls 

In this area, recent mineral operations have included the excavation of materials other than gold In the Limestone 
Hills near Townsend, Continental Lime excavates limestone for cement and gravel To date, there nas been about 
350-400 acres of disturbance. Continental Lime has submitted a life of mine amendment (30-50 years) which 
proposes a total of 650 acres of disturbance. Exploration has included 84 drill holes. 9000 feet of road construction 
and excavation of 2500 tons of dolomite. Continental Lime has applied for a patent on several claims near their 
current operation. A potential conflict with the Montana National Guard may occur with Continental's mining plan 
because of the National Guard Right-of-Way on adjacent BLM lands. Also, some of the firing range area used by 
the National Guard is contaminated by unexploded ordinances. Both parties are currently trying to work out an 
agreement so that both uses may take place. 

Graphite-United minerals has conducted exploratory drilling north of Indian Creek. This exploration included 19 drill 
holes and 15 new drill holes are proposed. 

Oil and gas interest in the Elkhorns appears to be on the rise. In 1992, the Helena National Forest was directed 
to initiate a programmatic EIS for oil and gas leasing. This analysis includes all Forest lands in the Elkhorns One 
site in Crow Creek will be analyzed as a potential oil and gas development site so that potential effects can be better 
understood. Most of the Elkhorns have been characterized as having low potential for occurrence and develop- 
ment of oil and gas resources. However, the southeast and south central portions are characterized as having 
moderate occurrence potential. One exploratory well was drilled on BLM lands on the southeast corner of the area 
This well was dry. 

L Lands 

Lands identified for acquisition in the Forest Plan are generally mholdings patented as mining claims Lands 
identified for disposal were those that provided continuity or increased management efficiency No BLM lands were 
identified for disposal; an informal acquisition list exists. 

Within the Crow IA, these lands are as follows: 



Disposal: 

1 Sec.35, T6N.R1W (Slim Sam) 

2. Sec. 34, T6N, R2W (Doughty Ranch) 

3. Sec. 22. T6N. R2W (Pasture Allot) 



Acquisition: 

1.Sec.6, T6N, R1W (Muddy Lake) 

2 Sees 1,12, T6N. R2W (Jenkins) 

3 Sec 24, T7N, R2W (Crow Cr Falls) 
4.Sec.s 32.33, T7N. R2W (Ballard Mine) 
5 Sec 9, T7N, R1W (Vulture Mine) 
6.Sec.15, T7N, R2W (Park Mines) 

7 Sec. 17.18.T7N. R2W (Bullock Hill) 



Lands identified for acquisition may not be realized. This is mainly due to problems associated with liability issues 
since many of these are patented mining claims with the potential for water quality/acid mine drainage problems 
Additionally, asking prices for some of these lands (eg. Crow Creek Falls) are higher than appraised values 



43 



A. Soils, Water, and Vegetation 

1 Desired Condition Objective: Maintain riparian areas near the upper end of the range of natural 
occurrence. 

Management opportunity to achieve: Increase the number of acres and restore the structure/ 
function of riparian vegetation and watersheds to within the natural range by addressing bank cover 
and stability, vegetation structure and composition, water quality, and water storage 

Potential tools to help achieve the objective: 
Reduce upland woody vegetation 
Beaver dams 

Remove conifers in the riparian zone (only limited application) 
Manmade dams 
Address acid mine drainage 

Define ungulate utilization levels and restrict use to achieve 
Plant or stimulate existing vegetation using mechanical treatment or fire 
Road management 
Recreation management 
Localized stream bank protection 
Increase woody debris in stream channel 

Stipulations and mitigations necessary to use any of the tools: 
Plan on a drainage-wide basis 
Consistency with wetlands act 
Consistency with water quality laws 
Coordination with fisheries 

Coordination with recreation and allotment management plans 
Feasibility for mine reclamation 
Feasible beaver habitat/trapping regulations 
Minerals potential analysis 

Time frames: 

Projects to occur in all 5 decades with watersheds prioritized for treatment. 

Any prior requirements or data needs: 

Prioritize streams or stream reaches based on riparian aggregate characterizations, identify con- 
flicts with other resources. 

Social and economic relative costs: 

May be a shon term displacement of livestock The long term effect is beneficial 
Recreationists may also be displaced 
Dollar costs will vary. 

Site specific prioritization factors: 

High existing disturbance level 

Highly sensitive sites or unique sites 

Potential for irreplaceable loss 

Feasibility-gradient 

Fishery potential 

Compatibility with other resources 

Proposals: 

1. Adopt specific guidelines for grazing in riparian areas in the Crow IA. Restricted utilization is intended 
to reduce percentages of bare soil, compacted soil, or otherwise structurally altered soil to less than 1 5%. 



46 



Levels should also result in stability of 75% of the streambanks. increase native plants, increase the variety 
in age/structural classes of vegetation, and increase the amount of woody debris 

2. Exclude livestock from 6.5 stream miles of riparian aggregate #15 (Slim Sam). Evaluate additional rehab 
measures (eg. willow planting, prescribed fire). 

3. Promote willow/aspen regeneration and perpetuation of stands using one or a combination of low- 
mtensity prescribed fire, overstory removal of ad|acent conifers, and management of livestock Locations 
include Jenkins Gulch, Eagle Creek, Weston Creek, Roberts Creek, Bear Creek, South Fork Crow Creek, 
Indian Creek, and Slim Sam Creek 

4 Evaluate potential beaver habitats and determine if transplant is feasible; if so. transplant and monitor 
beaver in these locations. Sites include the 0.5 stream miles at the confluence of Hall Cr. and mamstem 
CrowCr (Riparian Aggregates 16, 31); 0.25 stream miles of Hall Cr (Riparian Aggregates 4, 31). 1-2 stream 
miles of Crow Creek (Riparian Aggregate 31); 0.5 stream miles of Jenkins Gulch (Riparian Aggregates 3, 
31); and 1.5 stream miles of S. Fk. Crow Cr. (Riparian Aggregates 5,16), and Indian Creek on BLM lands 

5. Plant shrubs and restrict livestock access to portions of Bear Creek where banks are exposed and 
downcutting is occurring. 

6. Eliminate road crossing along South Fork Crow Creek (at trailhead to trail #127). 

7 Map wetlands meeting federal jurisdictional criteria (Tizer Basin, head of Swamp Creek, springs in Bear 
and Jenkins); protect these areas. 

8 Rehabilitate Indian Creek on BLM lands where mining impacts have occurred This may include soil 
removal, instream structures, planting shrubs, and/or fencing to exclude livestock 

9. Continue and expand water quality sampling program to provide needed documentation 



47 



2. Desired Condition Objective: Maintain herbaceous biomass with native plant species Maintain 
longterm soil productivity. Increase organic matter incorporated into the grassland/shrubland soils where 
monitoring indicates a need. In relation, increase herbaceous biomass on grasslands in LTA s 2.4 and 1 1 
and/or increase relative composition of native plants in riparian areas, grasslands, and shrublands 
Noxious weed infestations do not exceed 1989 levels and are decreasing. 

Management opportunity to achieve: Maintain or enhance soil organic matter content and struc- 
ture, and facilitate nutrient recycling. 

Potential tools to help achieve the objective: 

Reduce surface soil compaction puddling, displacement, crusting, or 

excessive mineral soil exposure 
Leave woody material on conifer sites 
Burning (nutrient cycling) 
Mechanical aeration 
Livestock controls 
Seed areas of excessive bare soil 

Stipulations and mitigations necessary to use any of the tools: 
Fire intensity and duration 
Determine relationship with water yield 
Coordination with recreation 
Coordination with allotment management plans 
Coordination with riparian mgt 
Coordination with Elk Plan 
Weed management m disturbed areas 

Time frames: 

On-going over 5 decades 
Start by 1995 

Any prior requirements or data needs 

Need to determine appropriate residual vegetation to maintain and fine 

tune to different sites 
Set up monitoring sites 

Social and economic relative costs: 

Short term costs for livestock management 
Recreation costs 
Dollar costs vary 

Site specific prioritization factors: 

Areas of accelerated erosion or topsoil loss and loss of soil structure 

Areas with potential for highly productive soils 

Discrepancy between existing condition and desired condition in regard to organic matter content 

Monitoring 

Look at organic matter content by volume 

Proposals: 

1 . Review effects of current livestock grazing programs on existing primary range Amend grazing prescrip- 
tions such that improvements in biomass left on site and plant composition improvements can be noticed 
within 5 years 

2 Sample organic matter content by volume in areas where other vegetation projects are proposed 

3 Set up monitoring sites 



48 



3. Desired Condition Objective: Maintain shrubs near the upper natural range, grasslands near the lower 
natural range and conifers near the upper natural range 

Management opportunity to achieve: Reduce shrub and conifer colonization in grasslands, and 
conifer colonization in shrublands and maintain communities which reflect a variety of successional 
and age classes 

Potential tools to help achieve the objective 
Prescribed and prescribed natural fire 
Mechanical removal 
Girdling (kill and leave) 
Grazing controls 
Limbing of ]unipers 
Combinations of mechanical and fire 

Stipulations and mitigations necessary to use any of the tools: 
Coordination with riparian priorities 
Coordination with elk security and calving areas 
Coordination with antelope and mule deer winter range 

Time frames: 

begin in 1993 as funding permits 

accomplish a portion each year (including maintenance) 

Any prior reguirements or data needs 

Knowledge of sage subspecies/map 

Map |umper areas 

Map areas of previous burning 

Do some demonstration and monitoring proiects (partnerships with Universities) 

Social and economic relative costs 

Social acceptance currently may be low, therefore environmental educational costs may be high 

Site specific prioritization factors: 

1 . Areas where net soil loss is occurring 

2. Areas of high riparian priority 

3. Areas of prime winter range 

Proposals: 

1 Within Landtype Association 2. increase grasslands by 280 acres (60%) within landtype unit 39A00 
(south) Treatment is not prescribed for other units because they reflect the desired condition No shrub- 
land (sagebrush) is prescribed for treatment, as the shrubland is in balance overall 280 acres of conifer 
colonization in landtype 39A00, south of Slim Sam creek is prescribed treatment to reduce the conifer 
canopy cover to less than 10% and create a grassland dominated community 

2. Within LTA 4, increase grasslands by 2654 acres (55%), treatment is concentrated m landtype 37-1 
(Elkhorn and Eagle units) to more closely resemble the natural range of lifeform occurrence Initially, about 
875 acres of shrubland (sagebrush) is prescribed for treatment to reduce the sagebrush canopy cover to 
less than 10% and create grassland dominated communities The deepest most productive soils (which 
are assumed to be the most developed) are targeted for treatment. These areas occur on gentle gradients 
and swales. 724 acres of conifer colonization in unit 37-1 is prescribed for treatment to reduce the conifer 
canopy cover to less than 10% and create a grassland dominated community 

3. Within LTA 1 1 , no "operational" treatments are proposed on Forest Service lands Although an increase 
of 2124 acres of grasslands is needed in this LTA does to approach the desired condition (75%), it is 
estimated that the degree of change that has occurred relative to fire suppression and domestic livestock 
grazing has permanently altered site potential through soil losses In addition, a unique community. 



49 



bitterbrush, occurs almost predominantly within this LTA. Therefore, proposed treatments are conserva- 
tive. The treatments should be accomplished through demonstration areas where various treatments can 
be tested and monitored for results. There are two landtypes in this LTA which have different site potentials 
which are treated seperately. Demonstration projects could include treating some of the 1288 acres of 
conifer colonization in landtype 29C to reduce the canopy closure to less than 1 0%; also within 29C. there 
is 515 acres of sagebrush colonization which could be treated to increase grasslands In landtype 29A. 
which supported bitterbrush under natural conditions, 429 acres of conifer colonization could be treated 
to reduce the conifer canopy to less than 10%. 

On BLM lands in LTA 11, 1520 acres of sagebrush could be treated to promote grasslands Conifer 
colonization on 518,465 acres could be treated to reduce canopy closure and increase grasslands 

4. Within LTA 1, an additional 239 acres of grasslands would meet the desired proportion of 25% Initially 
a minor amount of conifer colonization in landtypes 320 and 32A is proposed for treatment 54 acres of 
conifer colonization in unit 320 and 30 acres of conifer colonization in unit 32A are prescribed for treatment 
to reduce the conifer canopy cover to less than 10% and create a grassland dominated community 

5. Within LTA 9, 343 acres of additional grassland are desired This includes treatment of 275 acres of 
conifer colonization in unit 380 and 73 acres of conifer colonization in unit 390 to reduce the conifer canopy 
cover to less than 10% and create a grassland dominated community 



50 



4 Desired Condition Objective: Maintain patch sizes, age structures, and the structural and canopy 
closure conditions m conifer stands similar to the natural conditions 

Management opportunity to achieve: Reduce patch sizes and increase age class diversity in 
lodgepole pine stands at higher elevations. Reduce canopy cover m Douglas fir stands to remove 
the ladder fuels and provide for an open savannah-like structure 

Potential tools to help achieve the objective: 
Post and pole sales 
Selective timber harvest 

Reintroduce short duration, low intensity fire to maintain conditions 
Limb/pile and underburn 
Pulp sales in DF 
Underburn after thinning 
Girdle trees 
Natural fire events (longterm) 

Stipulations and mitigation necessary to use any of the tools: 
No new permanent roads 
Minimum disturbance from machines 
Past treatment 
Road management 
Evaluate stress level in stand 
Acceptance by public 
Cooperation with adjacent private landowners 

Time frames 

Begin in 1993 and accomplish on an annual basis as funding permits 

Any prior requirements or data needs. 

Photointerpretation of patch size in lodgepole/subalpme fir 
Map old growth stands 

Incorporate management into watershed managment plans to insure space and temporal dynam- 
ics. 

Social and economic relative costs: 
Visual quality 

Smoke Management considerations 
Social acceptance 

Site specific prioritization factors: 

1 . Areas needed to provide long term elk security (fireproof) 

2. Sites with very large trees (> 24") and lots of ladder fuels 

3. Sites with moderately large trees (18-24") 
4 Areas that we could realistically "fireproof" 

Proposals: 

1 Within LTA 4, treatment is prescribed on 561 acres in landtype 380 to reduce canopy closure to 1 0-30% 

2. Approximately 2880 acres within LTA 1 (landtype 31) could be treated to reduce canopy closure 

3. Within LTA 9, 2880 acres could be treated to reduce canopy closure Initially, 1326 acres in landtype 
380, and 1255 acres within landtype 390 are prescribed for treatment to reduce canopy closure 



51 



4. Within LTA 1 1 on BLM lands. 29 acres of old growth could be treated to reduce canopy closure 

5. Write a "burn plan" tor the Elkhorns which addresses the role of both prescribed and prescribed natural 
fire relative to topography, private lands, facility protection etc. 



52 



5. Desired Condition Objective: Maintain species, habitats, and/or communities of limited distribution 
near the higher levels of their natural occurrence. Within the Crow IA, these include aspen, bitterbrush 
mountain mahogany, narrowleaf cottonwood, old growth, wet microsites, unique riparian areas, black 
sagebrush, and understory plant diversity in conifer types 

Management opportunity to achieve: Identify species, map and identify trends and what is needed 
to sustain the species/habitat/community 

Potential tools to help achieve the ob|ective: 
Mapping 
Management 

Knowledge of ecology (sucessional pathways) 
Management of surrounding vegetation 
Soils relationships 
Reduction of competitive vegetation 
Habitat type relationships 
Planting or reestablishment 
Existing monitoring data 
Protection/stimulation/reclamation 
Control of livestock grazing and ungulate use 

Stipulations and mitigations necessary to use any of the tools: 
Understanding of naturally disturbed sites (wallows) 
Coordination with other vegetation management 
Treat large areas 

Try demonstration pro|ects to determine site specific response 
Coordination with recreation ob|ectives/interpretive ideas 

Time frames: 

Identification and mapping of features as soon as possible 

Any prior requirements or data needs 

Public involvement and information 

Social and economic relative costs: 
Visual quality 
Dollar costs may be high 

Site specific prioritization factors: 

1. Severe disturbance is occurring (eg. wet microsites) 

2. Limited options for management exist (eg. bitterbrush) 

3. Wildlife relationships are important (eg. subspecies of sage) 

4. High probability for longterm sustainability (eg. aspen) on a drainage level basis 

Proposals: 

1 Bitterbrush projects should be looked at in LTA's 2 and 1 1 

2. Narrowleaf cottonwood potential exists in Indian and Crow Creeks, along the Missouri River, and in the 
Limestone Hills. 

3. Aspen exists in LTA's 2, 3, 4. and 9, and 1 1 within the Crow IA 

4. Lowland riparian and/or riparian corridors within the Crow IA exist in Indian and Crow Creeks, and along 
the Missouri River 



53 



5. Mountain mahogany potential exists in LTA 11 (Limestone Hills, Johnny Gulch) 

6, Black Sage exists on BLM lands in LTA 1 1 About 600 acres could be "treated" by removing other woody 
species 



54 



B. Fish and Wildlife 

1. Desired Condition Objective: Maintain viable populations of threatened, endangered and sensitive 
animals, fish, and plants 

Management opportunity to achieve: Understand habitat relationships for animals and plants and 
provide necessary habitats and/or protection to those species 

Potential tools to help achieve the objective: 
Inventory 

Habitat maintenence and protection projects 
Habitat improvements 

Stipulations and mitigations necessary to use any of the tools 
Coordination w/other resource desired conditions 
Community level analysis-plants 
Coordination with vegetation desired condition 

Time frames: 

1 992-93 for inventory/habitat relationships 

Any prior requirements or data needs: 
none specified 

Social and economic relative costs: 
Cost with contracting out work 
Potential for recreation conflicts 
Potential to cause grazing management changes 

Site specific prioritization factors 
Riparian-fish 

Use of existing species/knowledge to drive inventory 
Limestone-plants 
Unique features 

Proposals: 

1 Survey for boreal owls in Tizer Basin 

2. Survey grassland communities in LTA s 1, 2. 4, and 1 1 for ferruginous hawks: 2, 4, and 1 1 for mountain 
plovers; and LTA's 1 -4 and 9 for flammulated owls. 

3. Survey for following sensitive plants within the Crow IA 

Epipactis gigantes (seeps and springs) 

Juncus halli (wet/dry meadows) 

Cypnpedium calceolus var parviflorum (mesic meadows) 

Cypnpedium parrennum (mesic meadows) 

Orchus rotund/folia (mesic meadows) 

4. Survey for native cutthroat trout in streams with no existing information 
(Warner, Blacker, Crazy, and Dewey Creeks); investigate remtroductions 

in the following streams Little Tizer, Moose, Clear, Eagle, Eureka, and Longfellow Creeks 



55 



2 Desired Condition Objective: Sustain biodiversity 

Management opportunity to achieve: The ranges and processes reflecting natural variability are 
approximated to the extent possible given permanent changes on the landscape and social/ 
economic considerations (coarse filter) 

Potential tools to help achieve the objective 

monitor soil, water and vegetation projects 
identify unique microsites 
identify ecotones and corridors 

Stipulations and mitigations necessary to use any of the tools 

Coordination with species requiring "fine filter" management (eg. hunted, trapped, sensitive, threat- 
ened, endangered) 

Time frames: 

none specified 

Any prior requirements or data needs: 

Habitat requirements of "fine filter" species including amphibians and retiles 

Proposals: 

1. Mesh management recommendations for sensitive species (Montana Heritage Report) with vegetation 
management projects 

2. Monitor elk response (distribution) to vegetation projects 

3. Investigate the potential of linking drainages with the Missouri (reestablishing riparian corridors) 



56 



3. Desired Condition Objective: Native animals occur m historic ranges where appropriate 

Management opportunity to achieve: Feasibility analysis for reintroduction and/or augmentation 
Also consider removal of non-native species. 

Potential tools to help achieve the ob|ective: 
Analysis 

Field validation of habitat 
Public education 
Reintroduction/augmentation 

Stipulations and mitigations necessary to use any of the tools: 
Social acceptance 
Habitat availability 

Time frames 

Begin in 1993: complete analysis by 2002 

Any prior requirements or data needs: 
none identified 

Social and economic relative costs: 
Contract/FWP involvement 
Public acceptance may be low for some species 

Site specific prioritization factors 
Sufficient habitat exists 
TES species highlighted 
Species with limited distribution 
Species that would be viable within a "limited" isolated ecosystem. 

Proposals: 

1 Bighorn Sheep feasibility analysis within the Crow IA; field validation. NEPA 

2 Cutthroat trout and beaver remtroductions into feasible habitats 

3 Mapping and analysis of potential prairie dog habitat 

4 Evaluation of sharptail grouse: (were they here historically: is there habitat) 

5 Evaluation of sage grouse (can the habitat support 9 ) 



57 



4 Desired future condition objective: Diverse age and sex ratios are represented in harvested species 

Management opportunity to achieve: Increase the number of (and animals in them) age classes 
in the male portion of the elk, deer and antelope populations 

Assure appropriate age/sex ratios in black bears. 

Potential tools to help achieve the objective: 
Increase security areas 
Regulate the number of people 

Implement changes in regulations, season length, season timing 
Public education 
Provide areas of non-hunting 
Limit hunting technology 

Stipulations and mitigations necessary to use any of the tools: 
Consistency with FWP management plans 
Social acceptance 

Time frames: 

Start in 1992-1993 

FWP deal with regulations Forest Service/BLM deal with habitat. This will be closely coordinated 

Any prior requirements or data needs: 

Analysis of existing mule deer age classes. 

Public scoping 

Knowledge of species ecology 

Social and economic relative costs: 
Social acceptance (hunters) 
Potential outfitter costs 

Site specific prioritization factors: 

Species with most limited sex/age distribution 

Proposals: 

1 . Reduce vulnerablity of male mule deer through changes in season length, timing, restrictions on harvest, 
and/or increases in habitat security. 

2. Continue monitoring elk sex/age ratios 

3. Initiate black bear graduate study 

4. Analyze antelope population structure 



58 



5. Desired Condition Objective: There is adequate quality and quantity of forage on big game winter 
ranges. 

Management opportunity to achieve: Maintain and improve forage on critical big game winter 
ranges to support approximately 2000 elk and 2000 deer and the current antelope population; 
create additional winter range to improve distribution on public lands and minimize conflict with 
private lands; restrict human disturbance on winter ranges. 

Potential tools to help achieve the objective: 
Manage domestic livestock grazing 
Increase grasslands/shrublands 
Purchase/exchange for winter range parcels 
Conservation easements 
Restrict public access to winter ranges 
Prescribed burning 

Stipulations and mitigations necessary to use any of the tools: 
Coordination with vegetation management 
Coordination with other species management 
Coordination with allotment management plan updates 
Coordination with fire management 

Time frames: 

none specified 

Any prior requirements or data needs: 

Determine wildlife utilization levels at appropriate monitoring sites 

Social and economic relative costs: 
Public acceptance 
May reduce livestock grazing 

Site specific prioritization factors 

Areas where elk/deer are causing depredation of private lands 
Areas that elk/deer depend on in the most severe winter conditions 

Proposals 

1. Identify monitoring sites for the North Crow, South Crow, and Kimber elk herds. Identify key areas for 
mule deer and antelope 

2. Incorporate wildlife needs within allotment management plans using utilization standards on key winter 
sites. 

3. Graze or burn areas where forage is not palatable on winter ranges 



59 



6 Desired Condition Objective: Adequate security areas are provided to achieve State objectives for 
managing big game populations during the hunting season Such security areas are well-distributed 

Management opportunity to achieve: Increase security if and when necessary to achieve State 
management ob|ectives for populations. 

Tools to achieve the objective: 
Monitor populations 
"Fire-proof" important cover stands 
Restrict motorized access in existing cover patches 

Stipulations and mitigations necessary to use any of the tools: 
Coordination with FWP 
Public involvement 

Close coordination with vegetation projects 
Increase enforcement of travel restrictions 
Provide road hunting/retrieval areas 
Work closely with CRM/National Guard 

Time frames: 

Monitor vegetation projects as they are implemented: work with CRM group on concepts 

Any prior requirements or data needs: 

Security areas are defined and mapped 

Social and economic relative costs: 
Road closure enforcement 
Displacement of some hunters. 

Site specific prioritization factors: 

Winter range/transition areas where vegetation is manipulated 
Benefits to other resources 
South Crow herd unit 

Proposals: 

1. See existing condition section for North and South Crow elk herds 

2 Restrict motorized access on critical mule deer winter range in the Limestone Hills 



60 



C. RecreatioaTransportation 

1 Desired Condition Objective: There is ample knowledge about recreationists m the Crow Creek IA 
which is used to plan and manage the recreation and interpretation programs 

Management Opportunity to achieve: Survey and inventory users in the area to identify use levels 
on roads and trails; attractions; trends; user conflicts, and resource conflicts. 

Potential tools to help achieve the objectives: 
Road and trail counters 
Mailed survey 

Trailhead registration boxes 
Interviews in the field 

Stipulations and mitigations necessary to use any of the tools: 
FS policy on use of surveys 
Unbiased sampling 
Designed to give specific information to be used for analysis of projects 

Time Frames 

Begin in 1994 

Any prior requirements or data needs 

Establish what information is needed 

Social and economic relative costs 

Survey could be expensive if contracted 
Other costs vary 

Proposals; 

1. Install registration boxes at selected trailheads in the Crow IA in 1994 Collect and analyze information 
from registration cards in winter of 1995 

2. Install traffic counters on Johnny Gulch. Indian Creek, Eagle Station and Weasel Roads as well as 3 
non-arterial roads. 

3. Conduct informal interviews in the field in 1993-1994 and keep a diary of users. This could be done by 
the backcountry ranger or all field-going personnel. 

4. Contract with a consulting firm to conduct a survey of people who use the Elkhorn Mountains (1995) 



61 



2 Desired Condition Objective: With minimum conflict between users, a range of safe and enjoyable 
recreation opportunities are available These uses are consistent with the ROS class where they occur and 
are compatible with other resources in the implementation area. 

Management Opportunity to achieve: Indentify opportunities to segregate the transportation 
system between motorized classes of vehicles in the Roaded Natural Area; decrease conflicts 
between motorized uses and non-motorized uses in the Roaded Natural Area Promote additional 
opportunities in the semi-pnmrtrve motorized areas: eliminate conflicts with other resources (wildlife 
noxious weeds, and soil erosion). 

Potential tools to help achieve the objectives 
Travel Plan 

Signing, maps, brochures 
Road maintenance 
Enforcement 
Trail/Road adoption programs 

Stipulations and mitigations necessary to use any of the tools: 
Consistent over the entire mountain range 
Based on user demands 
Safety of users insured 
Compatible with other uses (eg. National Guard firing range) 

Time Frames 

Begin in 1993 with Travel Plan effort 

Any prior requirements or data needs 
User survey information 
CRM input 
Soils, wildlife, weed information mapped 

Social and economic relative costs: 
Private land considerations 
Cost to maintain signing 
Cost of enforcement 

Site specific prioritization factors: 

Obvious resource damage occurring (erosion) 

Safety hazards 

User group specified areas 

Proposals 

1 . Develop strategy and issues that will drive travel planning for the entire Elkhorn Mountain Range Based 
on issues, define specific Desired Conditions for specific areas Compare with EC and develop a proposed 
action to take to the public This will identify what roads will be maintained and by whom: which roads will 
be obliterated; and how roads will be managed (eg. signed for specific vehicle classes) 

2. Begin to implement the alternative within the Crow IA. Close roads with resource concerns such as 
erosion, wildlife conflicts, or noxious weed control problems, maintain and upgrade identified transporta- 
tion system through annual maintenance schedules and through the Capital Investment process, Update 
signing along roads and trails in accordance with Regional standards Areas of known resource concerns 
include: 

* Tizer Lakes Road (erosion; sedimentation) 

* South Fork Crow Road and road from South Fork to Warner Creek (no #) (Creek crossing; erosion 
on limestone soils) 

* Indian Creek Road, Prickly Pear. Weasel Creek Road. Johnny Gulch Road (on FS) (public safety, 
road standard is poor) 



fi? 



* Crow Creek trail 109 ad) to BLM (erosion of private road; knapweed) 

* Limestone Hills (road density on critical mule deer winter range) 

* Queen Bee area roads (ROW: erosion in wet conditions) 

* Eureka Ridge (weeds; erosion) 

* Eagle Basin (visual quality impact from parellei roads) 

* Radersburg Area (private land conflicts) 

3. As part of #2, work with CRM group to identify suitable areas for ATV uses, to identify how motorized 
users could be segregated, and to identify areas of suitable non-motorized uses Identify popular OHV 
routes as trails and take them off the road system 

4. Analyze trail system in conjunction with #2. Trails to be kept on the system should be upgraded to 
Regional standards. System trails should provide a mix of opportunities, i.e. loop trails, long distance trails 
and interpretive trails. Known conflicts or needs are as follows; 

* Confusion due to the multitude of interlinking trails around Longfellow Park (are all these trail 
segments needed 9 Better signing?) 

* Access to lowest trailhead on trail #109 (private land/rough road) 

* Steep erosive section on trail #133 near Crazy Creek 

* Crossings on Crow Creek on trail #109 near confluence with Wilson Cr. 

* Crossing on Big Tizer Creek (trail #1 10) 

* Loop access between trail #112 and #109 

* Steep eroding sections on trail #134/sign at |unction with 109/ additional assurance markers 
through meadows, 

* Improve trailhead signing at trails 1 09, 110, 112, 115, 117 and 1 29 

* Improve trailhead signing for trails adjacent to road #4022 (Bullock Hill) 

* Install trail sign on the Hidden Lake trail with the junction at Prickly Pear Road (Sec 32, T7N, R2W) 

* Provide additional blazes/cairns where trails enter.exit meadows 

* Mixed uses on lower end of 109 and Swamp Creek trail 108 

5. "Harden" (gravel, put in some facilities) dispersed camping areas along Crow Creek and S Fk Crow 
Creek to the degree necessary to correct sanitation and erosion problems monitor use at trailheads and 
evaluate the need to provide toilets 

6 Knowing the existing high use levels and resource conflicts with the South Fork Crow Creek Lake 
trailhead, provide a better stream crossing, additional parking, and improved signing Effectively close the 
trail to motorized travel at the trailhead 

7. Knowing the existing demand for FS rental cabins, evaluate using both Tizer and Eagle Stations as rental 
cabins seasonally. If suitable, move to enlist cabins in rental program 

8. Encourage outfitters and guides to look at revising their operations to provide nontraditional types of 
services such as wildlife vewing, horseback trips and fishing services 

9 Monitor hunting camps for compliance with Forest regulations and possible resource damage, and 
enforce the 14 day campsite limit 

10. Provide for desired opportunities (eg. marked ski trails, marked mtn bike trails) as per user surveys 

1 1 Work toward legal right-of-ways where forest/BLM roads/trails cross private lands ROW is needed on 
the following: 

Bullock Hill Loop Road #4032 

Norns Gulch Road (#621) 

South Fork Crow Road (#277) 

Weasel Creek Road (#405) 

Indian Creek Road (#360) 

Crow Creek Trail #109 



63 



Iron Mine Trail #111 
Moose Creek Trail #114 
Leslie Lake Trail #131 



64 



3 Desired Condition Objective: Special features unique to the area are highlighted for users to enjoy and 
learn more about without compromising tne uniqueness and naturalness of the features themselves Clear 
consistent information (including signing) is available when needed to direct users, minimize conflict or 
enhance recreational experiences 

Management Opportunities to achieve the objective: Develop and begin to implement an inter 
pretive strategy for the entire Elkhorn ECMA, Develop sign plans for roads, trails, and travel 
management. 

Potential tools to help achieve the ob|ectives: 
Travel Plan: Capital Investment Planning 
Signing, maps, brochures 
Challenge Cost Share proiects 

Stipulations and mitigations necessary to use any of the tools: 
Consistent over the entire mountain range 
Based on user analysis 
Resources protected 

Consistent with landscape analysis DCs for other resources 
Compatible with other uses (eg. National Guard firing range) 

Time Frames: 

Strategy being finalized in February 1993: begin implementing strategy by priority and as funding 
permits in 1993 

Any prior requirements or data needs. 
Site plans completed 
Partnerships identified 
Public scoping 
CRM input 

Social and economic relative costs: 

Cost of implementing projects will vary 
Cost of maintenance could be high 

Site specific prioritization factors: 

Existing signs do not meet standards 

Existing signs are confusing to the public (eg. travel management) 
Interprets a unique or special feature in the Elkhorns 
Interpretive strategy criteria 

1. How well the project meets established goals and DFC's 

2. Sensitivity of the site or resource Can the site withstand more use 7 

3. Is the project consistent with the MOU for the Elkhorn Cooperative Management Area 7 Is 
there potential for cooperative proiects 7 

4. Can the project support numerous interpretive themes 7 

5. Is there a potential for funding from outside partners 7 

Proposals: 

1 Replace road signs in the Elkhorns with signs meeting Regional standards. Remove all unnecessary 
road and trail signs including bulletin boards and fire management signs Install additional signs to identify 
private land boundaries 

2 Replace signs relative to travel restrictions with the Montana Cooperative Road Signs 

3. Replace all trail signs with signs meeting Regional (routed white oak) standards; replace plastic trail 
markers with trail blazes and cairns. 



65 



4 Begin to implement interpretive project proposals for the area as identified in the Elkhorn Interpretive 
Strategy (Teegarden 1993) Priority projects include 

* Guide to the Elkhorns brochure 

* Elkhorn "Generic" interpretive signs 

* Recreation/Information Map of the Elkhorns 

* Crow-Indian Creeks Backcountry Byway interpretive auto tour 
•Eagle Guard Station interpretive center with self-guided interpretive trail 

* Old Woman s Grave interpretive sign (BLM) 

5. Install Trailhead Information Boards at trailheads to 109, 127 110. and 112 

6. Update trail ROG sheets at District/ BLM offices. 

7. As part of the Indian/Crow auto interpretive tour, provide an elk winter watchable wildlife site along Crow 
Creek. 

8. Promote Tizer Basin as a watchable wildlife opportunity in conjunction with the rental of Tizer Cabin 

9 Coordinate efforts with the BLM and the Montana Highway Department to install a sign along Hiway 287 
that recoginzes the Elkhorn Mountain range as the "Elkhorn Cooperative Management Area" 

10. Pursue and acquire private land at Crow Creek Falls 



66 



D Visual Quality 

1 Desired Condition Objective: Overall scenic values are managed to complement form line color and 
texture of the characteristic landscapes m the Crow Creek Implementation Area. Sensitive viewing areas 
are managed by distance zones according to the Visual Management System 

Management Opportunity Maintain existing VQO's and standards Continue to monitor and man- 
age sensitive viewing areas identified in the Forest Plan for the Crow IA , Continue to work with other 
resources to mitigate impacts to the visual resource 

Proposals: 

1 Rehabilitate old mining proiects in the area where cultural values are not in conflict Sites to be evaluated 
include 

Crow Creek Falls (private land) 

Indian Creek (BLM and private) 

Park Mines (private) 

Kleinschmidt Mine (private) 

Vulture Mine (private) 

Hassel (BLM/private) 

lower Weasel Creek (FS/private) 

Kimber Gulch (FS/private) 

Giant Hill 

2. Coordination with recreation and engineering on sign replacement to insure a consistent, quality family 
of signs for the Elkhorns 

3. Coordination on allotment management plan revisions to insure that unacceptable areas are rehabilitat- 
ed and that the plan overall meets with VQO's. 

4. Coordination on vegetation manipulation projects to insure sensitivity to visual quality relative to pre- 
scribed burning or other treatments. 



67 



V. INTEGRATED DATA COLLECTION 

Data needs were identified throughout the landscape analysis process. The data needs which are outlined 
below must be met to complete a more site specific environmental analysis 

A 1992 

The following items were accomplished in 1992: 

1 Riparian disturbance survey. This survey was needed relative to Soil. Water, and Vegetation Desired 
Condition Ob|ective # 1 (riparian occurrence, structure and function) To better understand the relative 
level of disturbance present in riparian areas in the Crow IA for the purpose of revising Allotment Manage- 
ment Plans and proposing rehabilitation proiects, several streams were surveyed 

Streams that were identified as high priority to be surveyed are listed below. Those accomplished in 1992 
are marked by * 

* Weston Creek 

* Roberts Creek (Cottonwood) 

* Eagle Creek and Basin (in part) 

* Eureka Creek (in part) 
Spring Creek 

Indian Creek, W Fork and * Sheps 

* South Fork Crow Creek 
Bear Creek 

Swamp Creek 
Slim Sam and South fork 
Missouri River (BLM) 
Wilson Creek 

2. Photo interpretation to delineate riparian areas in the Crow creek drainage which are not ad|acent 
to streams. 

3. Photo interpretation to identify potential old growth stands in the Crow Creek drainage Stratified 
field verification and walk through exams to document unique communities (spruce fir) and wildlife 
observations 

4 Identification of landtype associations where TES species may occur (Natural Heritage Program) 

5. Photo interpretation to delineate areas occupied by |uniper big sagebrush subspecies, mountain 
mahogany, and bitterbrush in the Crow IA. both now and under natural conditions. Stratified field verifica- 
tion and walk through; minimal data collection on the dominant life form, cover and soil stability on 
representative stands. 

B 1993 

The following work is scheduled for 1993: 

1 Riparian inventory completion (beginning with "high priority" not accomplished in 1992) 
Moderate priority streams 

Longfellow/Teakettle/Tincup Crazy and Clear Creeks 

Mainstem Crow Creek/Cold Springs Muddy Lake Creek and Jenkins 

Blacker/Warner Hog Hollow 

Moose Creek Big Tizer Creek 



68 



Ribideau, Badger Prickly Pear 

Whitehorse Aldnch (Slim Sam) 

2. Vegetation inventory 

This is needed to achieve the desired condition ob|ective #5 under soil, water and vegetation (unique 
features). 

Photo interpretation is needed to delineate existing aspen, bitterbrush, and mountain mahogany 
as well as areas where they would occur under natural conditions within the Crow Creek IA. 
Bitterbrush should be looked at in LTA's 2 and 1 1 . Narrowleaf Cottonwood potential exists in Indian 
and Crow Creeks, along the Missouri River, and in the Limestone Hills Aspen potential exists in 
LTA's 2, 3, 4, and 9, and 1 1 within the Crow IA. Mountain mahogany potential exists in LTA 1 1 
(Limestone Hills, Johnny Gulch) 

Stratified field visits are necessary to determine status and condition and identify opportunities to 
increase the amount and/or age class distribution. Minimal data collection on dominant life form and 
cover on representative plots. Some intensive plots may be needed to characterize sites. 

Photo interpretation in office to identify potential old growth stands in the Indian Creek and Slim 
Sam drainages Stratified field verification and walk through exams are needed to document unique 
communities (spruce fir) and wildlife observations. 

3. Vegetation utilization monitoring 

This is needed to achieve the desired condition obiective # 2 under soil water, and vegetation (increase 
nutrient recycling) and # 5 under fish and wildife (improve winter range). 

Determine monitoring areas in the North Crow and South Crow livestock allotments (key winter 
range, riparian, wet and dry meadows) Measure utilization when livestock come off, and before 
livestock go on in the spring; document cow pies and elk pellets), evaluate amount of plant needed 
to maintain soils and plant vigor. Minimal data collection on percent utilization of native bunchgrass 
es, percent utilization of shrubs, ground cover. 

4 Map areas of previous burning. 

This is needed to implement DC objective #3 (natural occurence ranges), soil, water, and vegetation 

Prescribed burns have been implemented sporadically in the Elkhorns in the past 2 decades It is 
essential that these projects are mapped and characterized (what is the existing condition; did the 
burn meet the burn objectives 7 ) before additional burning is undertaken. 

5. Water quality monitoring 

This is continuation of the on-going program which relates to soil, water, and vegetation DC objective # 
1. 

Sample streams downstream from point source pollution (mining) to document presence of contam- 
inants 

6. Analyze age and sex distribution in mule deer population (MDFWP) 

This relates to DC objective # 4 (sex and age in harvested species), fish and wildlife. 

Determine the existing sex and age distribution of mule deer from harvest statistics. Compare with 
lightly hunted population. Determine possible strategies for improvement if needed. 



69 



7 Conduct feasibility analysis for reintroduction of bighorn sheep (MDFWP) 

This is needed to address fish and wildlife DC objective # 3 (native species) 

Literature search to determine parameters, map feasible areas, field verify suitable areas begin 
public scoping. 

8. Survey boreal owls in Tizer Basin 

This is needed to begin implementing DC objective # 1 under fish and wildlife (TES) 

Determine if boreal owls are present in Tizer Basin during the March-April breeding period 

9 Survey streams for cutthroat trout/habitat potential 

This is needed to implement DC objective # 1 and #3 (TES. native species) 

Survey Bear. Warner. Blacker. Crazy, and Dewey Creeks to determine existing fish populations if 
any and the potential for reintroducing cutthroat trout 

10 Informal recreation interviews/observations 

This is needed to implement DC objective #1, recreation (user survey information) 

Field going personnel and/or the backcountry ranger keep a diary of observations of recreation 
users after May 16 This includes some informal interview questions (to be determined) This 
information is used to help design a formal survey 

1 1 Collect information on transportation system on BLM lands, field verify problems (and photograph) on 
Forest lands 

C. 1994: 

1. Survey important riparian corridors 

This is needed to implement DC objectives # 1, soil, water and vegetation and DC objective # 2 (biodiver- 
sity), fish and wildlife 

Investigate potential for Crow Creek to link with Missouri; walk Crow Creek with FWP personnel. 
cooperate as necessary 

Develop a site plan for the BLM portion of Missouri 

2 Vegetation inventory/mapping completion 

Survey sensitive plants in conjunction with any vegetation projects 

Photo interpretation in the office on any remaining unmventoned areas in the Crow IA (old growth 
aspen, bitterbrush riparian mountain mahogany, jumper sagebrush) 



70 



3 Riparian inventory completion 

Walk high or moderate priority streams which have not already been inventoried 

4. Identification of patch size and age class representation in lodgepole pine and subalpine fir types 

This is needed to implement DC ob|ective # 4 (patch size, structure in conifers), soil, water, and vegetation 

Photo interpretation is needed within the portion of the Crow IA occupied by lodgepole and 
subalpine fir (Tizer Basin). Stratified field visits are necessary to determine status and identify 
opportunities to increase the amount and/or age class distribution. Data collection on fire scar 
information, fuel types, overstory tree species, age class and trres per acre by species, and 
understory species information is needed. 

5. Forage utilization trend identification (see 1992: (3)) 

Determine monitoring areas on Diorite, Dahlman and Pasture livestock allotments (key winter range, 
riparian, wet and dry meadows). 

Continue monitoring areas on North Crow and South Crow livestock allotments. 

6. Analyze antelope population parameters, distribution, and landowner tolerances 

This is needed to implement DC objectives # 3, 4, and 5 (native animals; sex and age structure; winter 
range). 

Information is needed on the existing condition (population segments; key areas) of antelope in this 
area before any protects can be proposed or implemented 

7. Evaluate potential beaver (moose) habitats 

This is needed to implement DC ob|ective #1 (riparian), soil, water, vegetation; and DC ob|ective # 3 (native 
species), fish and wildlife. 

Areas of suitable gradient and vegetation potential need to be surveyed and evaluated for feasibility 
of reintroducing beaver Sites include the 5 stream miles at the confluence of Hall Cr and 
mainstem Crow Cr (Riparian Aggregates 16, 31). 25 stream miles of Hall Cr (Riparian Aggregates 
4, 31); 1-2 stream miles of Crow Creek (Riparian Aggregate 31), 5 stream miles of Jenkins Gulch 
(Riparian Aggregates 3. 31); and 1 5 stream miles of S Fk Crow Cr (Riparian Aggregates 5.16) 
and Indian Creek (on BLM). 

These areas should also be evaluated during riparian disturbance inventories and should evaluate 
for potential habitat improvements for both moose and beaver 

8 Map wetlands meeting federal jurisdictional criteria 

This is needed to implement DC objective #1 (riparian), soil, water, vegetation 

A map of jurisdictional wetlands is needed to evaluate existing condition and to recommend actions 
to insure their integrity. 

9. Survey grassland communities for ferruginous hawks and mountain plovers 

This is needed to implement DC objective # 1 (TES) fish and wildlife 

Surveys should be conducted in LTA's 1,2,4. and 1 1 for ferruginous hawks, and 2, 4, and 1 1 for 
mountain plovers Surveys should follow accepted protocol 



71 



10 Evaluate "vacant" streams for cutthroat reintroductions. (See 1992 (9)) 

investigate reintroductions in the following streams Little Tizer, Moose. Clear. Eagle. Eureka, and 
Longfellow Creeks. 

11 Continue informal recreation interviews (see 1993 (10)). 
D. 1995: 

1 Forage utilization trend identification 

Continue monitoring areas on the North Crow, South Crow, Dahlman. Kimber Diorite Limestone 
Hills, and Pasture allotments where needed. Areas should be monitored for a minimum of three 
years to establish a baseline, and every other year after that. 

2. Determine black bear distribution, habitat use, and harvest trends (MDFWP) 

This is needed to implement DC objectives # 3 and 4 (native species, sex and age), fish and wildlife 

A study is needed to determine the current distribution, habitat use, and harvest trends in black 
bears occupying the Elkhorns. This information is currently lacking for any isolated mountain range 
This study would best be done using a graduate student 

3 Survey for flammulated owls (See 1994 ( )). 

Surveys are needed in LTA's 1-4 and 9 following accepted protocol. 

4. Map potential prairie dog habitat. 

This is needed to implement DC objective # 3 (native species), fish and wildlife. 

Using parameters identified from the literature, map areas of potential prairie dog habitat in the 
Elkhorns. Field verify. 

5. Evaluation of potential sharptail grouse habitat (see above) 



72 



VI. PROGRAM OF WORK PROPOSED SCHEDULE 

The following outlines a tentative program of work exclusive of the integrated data collection schedule This 
program is intended to be flexible depending on changes in funding and priorities. 

A Program of Work for 1993: 

1 Analyze the following watershed proiects in NEPA: 

Allotment Management Plan revisions (all allotments within Crow IA) 

Riparian rehabilitation in Slim Sam 

Riparian utilization standards by riparian aggregate 

Willow/aspen regeneration in Jenkins Gulch, Eagle Creek, Weston Creek Roberts Creek, Bear 
Creek, South Fork Crow Creek, and Slim Sam Creek. 

Prescribed burning and underburning (see MO 3, soil, water, vegetation for specific areas) 

2. In conjunction with #1 

Develop a key for management practice recommendations for riparian areas 

Determine appropriate amount of residual herbaceous biomass to be left on site for recycling, 
according to inherent site productivity and production 

Mesh management recommendations for sensitive species (Montana Heritage Report) with vegeta- 
tion management projects. 

Set up demonstration projects for grassland/sagebrush/conifer colonization manipulations in LTA 
11. 

Other agency and public involvement, information sharing on conifer habitat manipulations, sustain- 
able ecosystem management. 

3. Develop strategy and issues that will drive travel planning for the entire Elkhorn Mountain Range Based 
on issues, define specific Desired Conditions for specific areas Compare with EC and develop a proposed 
action to take to the public This will identify what roads will be maintained and by whom; which roads will 
be obliterated; and how roads will be managed (eg. signed for specific vehicle classes) 

4. As part of #2, work with CRM group to identify suitable areas for ATV uses, to identify how motorized 
users could be segregated, and to identify areas of suitable non-motorized uses Identify popular OHV 
routes as trails and take them off the road system 

5. Write a "burn plan" for the Elkhorns which addresses the role of both prescribed and prescribed natural 
fire relative to topography, private lands, facility protection etc. 

6. Work toward gaming legal Right of way on Weasel Creek Road (#405) 

7 Begin replacing road signs in the Elkhorns with signs meeting Regional standards. Remove all unneces- 
sary road and trail signs including bulletin boards and fire management signs Continue replacing signs 
relative to travel restrictions with the Montana Cooperative Road Signs. Continue to replace all trail signs 
with signs meeting Regional (routed white oak) standards; begin replacing plastic trail markers with trail 
blazes and cairns 



8. Begin to implement interpretive project proposals for the area as identified in the Elkhorn Interpretive 
Strategy (Teegarden 1993) Priority projects include: Guide to the Elkhorns brochure and the Elkhorn 
"Generic" interpretive signs 

9. Develop a site plan for Eagle Guard Station consistent with the restoration effort and the interpretive 
strategy. 

1 0. FWP will determine if male Mule Deer age structure is an issue with the public through a series of public 
meetings. 

Program of Work for 1994: 

1. Implement revised AMP for the North Crow, Wilson, and Tizer allotments. 

Plant shrubs and restrict livestock access to portions of Bear Creek where banks are exposed 
and downcutting is occurring. 

Implement protection for jurisdictional wetlands 

2. Analyze and write AMP for South Crow, Dionte, and Pasture allotments. 

3. Design and set up demonstration projects in LTA 1 1 

4. Burn a portion of the acres analyzed through NEPA in 1993. 

Sample organic matter content by volume in burn areas. 
Monitor elk response (distribution) to burn projects 

5. Do an environmental analysis on bighorn reintroduction (may be possible to do in 1993) 

6. Identify sources of possible pure westslope cutthroat for ^introductions 

7. Update ROG sheets in district/BLM offices 

8a. Travel Plan proposed action taken to public; alternatives developed and analyzed 

8b Evaluate and update Elkhorns South capital investment project. Analysis and NEPA documentation of 
project 

9. Analyze trail system in conjunction with #8. Trails to be kept on the system should be upgraded to 
Regional standards. 

10. Continue wtth signing efforts; install additional signs to identify private land boundaries 

1 1. Install registration boxes at selected trailheads in the Crow IA in 1994. 

12. Install traffic counters on Johnny Gulch, Indian Creek, Eagle Station, and Weasel Roads as well as 3 
non-arterial roads 

13. Evaluate using both Tizer and Eagle Stations as rental cabins seasonally. If suitable, move to enlist 
cabins in rental program. 

14. Encourage outfitters and guides to look at revising their operations to provide nontraditional types of 
services such as wildlife vewing, horseback trips and fishing services. 



74 



15. Work toward gaining legal ROW on additional roads and trails. 

16. Produce brochure and install generic signs from interp strategy (see 1993). 

17. Begin implementing Eagle Station site plan 

18. Design and install Old Woman's Grave interpretive sign (BLM) 
Program of Work for 1995: 

I Implement revised AMP's for South Crow. Dionte, and Pasture allotments 

2. Continue to implement 1993 NEPA burning/underburnmg, riparian projects (and include appropriate 
monitoring). 

3. Reintroduce bighorn sheep (may be possible in 1 994?), cutthroat trout, and beaver into feasible habitats 

4. Implement beaver/moose habitat improvement projects. 

5. Graze or burn areas where forage is not palatable on winter ranges 

6. Determine need for additional security based on monitoring results; propose road closures if needed 

7. Restrict motorized access on critical mule deer winter range in the Limestone Hills. 

8. Collect and analyze information from registration cards in winter of 1995. 

9. Contract with a consulting firm to conduct a survey of people who use the Elkhorn Mountains (1995) 

10 Begin to implement the travel plan alternative within the Crow IA Close roads with resource concerns 
such as erosion, wildlife conflicts, or noxious weed control problems; maintain and upgrade identified 
transportation system through annual maintenance schedules and through the Capital Investment pro- 
cess. 

I I Begin trail relocation/standardization work. 

12. Depending on public response and acceptance, FWP will implement strategies to produce older age 
buck Mule Deer. 

13. Continue work toward gaming legal right-of-ways where forest/BLM roads/trails cross private lands 

14. Install sign to Hidden Lake; continue replacing plastic trail markers with blazes and cairns; provide 
additional markers through meadows. 

15. Continue to replace all signs so as to meet Regional standards 

15 Begin work on recreation/information Map of the Elkhorns 

16 Continue implementing Eagle Guard Station site plan 

17 Coordinate efforts with the BLM and the Montana Highway Department to install a sign along Hiway 
287 that recoginzes the Elkhorn Mountain range as the "Elkhorn Cooperative Management Area", or 
"Elkhorn Wildlife Management Unit" 



75 



18. Evaluate old mining projects in the area where cultural values are not in conflict 
Program of Work for 1996 

1 Continue to implement 1993 NEPA burning/underburnmg riparian projects (and include appropriate 
monitoring) 

2 Implement South Elkhorns Complex CI project. This would include 

Improve trailhead signing at trails 1 09, 110. 112. 115. 117 and 1 29 

"Harden" dispersed camping areas along Crow Creek and S Fk Crow Creek to the degree 
necessary to correct sanitation and erosion problems, installation of toilets at trailheads 
where needed. 

A stream crossing, additional parking, and improved signing at the South Fork Crow trailhead 
(#127). 

Provide for opportunities (eg. marked ski trails; marked mtn. bike trails) as per user surveys 

Implementation of the Crow-Indian Creeks Backcountry Byway interpretive auto tour 

Installation of trailhead information boards at traiiheads to 109, 127, 110, and 112 

As part of the Indian/Crow auto interpretive tour, an elk winter watchable wildlife site along 
Crow Creek. 

3. Continue mine rehabilitation projects 

4. Continue wildlife habitat improvement projects (beaver, moose, antelope (?). 



76 



VII. MONITORING NEEDS 

The need to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness and results of management opportunities is a critical 
part of this landscape analysis. The monitoring needs are organized by year and resource 

Monitoring Needs for 1993: 

1 Continue monitoring elk and mule deer distribution, numbers, sex/age ratios 
2. Continue water quality monitoring (see also data collection). 

Monitoring Needs for 1994: 

see 1993 

Bighorn Sheep will be monitored if reintroduced 

Monitoring Needs for 1995-2000: 

Vegetation/Watershed/Soils: 

Monitor soil productivity on selected sites. Timeframe 1995 2000 

Monitor riparian improvement projects which were implemented in 1994 

Monitor demonstration proiects for grassland/sagebrush/conifer colonization manipulations 

Monitor results of habitat manipulation protects in shrublands, grasslands, and Douglas fir stands. 

Monitor habitat proiects on unique vegetation types bmerbrush, black sagebrush, big sagebrush sub- 
species, mountain mahogany, old growth, wet microsites 

Wildlife/Recreation: 

Monitor elk response to vegetation proiects. 

Monitor the effectiveness of existing elk security areas. 

Monitor disturbance on big game winter ranges 

Monitor elk and livestock utilization and timing of use on winter ranges Evaluate the balance of biomass 
and palatability. 

Monitor known populations of TES species. 

Monitor age and sex ratios in bear, elk, deer and antelope 

Monitor effectiveness of travel plan 

Monitor effectiveness of interpretive projects. 



77 



NORTH ELKHORNS IMPLEMENTATION AREA 

FINAL DOCUMENT 

January 1995 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 

I. Tie to Elkhorn Landscape Parent Analysis 

II. Range of Natural Variation 

III. Existing Conditions 

A. Soils 

B. Watershed 

C. Vegetation 

D. Fish 

E. Wildlife 

F. Allotments 

G. Recreation 

H. Transportation System 

I. Visual Quality 

J. Minerals 

L. Lands 

M. Cultural Resources 

N. Special Uses 

IV. Comparison of Existing and Desired Conditions 

V. Management Opportunities 

A. Soils, Water, and Vegetation 

B. Fish and Wildlife 

C. Recreation/Transportation 

D. Visual Quality 

E. Livestock Management 

F. Cultural Resources 

G. Lands and Special Uses 

VI. Program of Work Priorities 

VII. Potential Projects 

Appendix A, Old Growth Forest Description 
Appendix B, Wildlife Species "At Risk" 
Appendix C, Literature Cited 



Page 1 

Page 1 

Page 3 

Page 3 
Page 3 
Page 10 
Page 19 
Page 21 
Page 28 
Page 37 
Page 39 
Page 43 
Page 45 
Page 45 
Page 45 
Page 47 

Page 48 

Page 50 

Page 51 
Page 59 
Page 66 
Page 71 
Page 72 
Page 74 
Page 75 

Page 76 

Page 76 

Page 78 

Page 81 

Page 85 



i - 1 



LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS 



Line Officers: 

Mesia Nyman 
Denis Hart 
George Weldon 

CORE ID TEAM: 

Jodie Canfield, Elkhorn Coordinator 
Kurt Cuneo, Resource Assistant 
Dave Turner, Public Affairs 
Brent Costain, Wildlife Biologist 
Dennis Heffner, Forest Planner 
Larry Rau, BLM, Wildlife Biologist 
Bill Henness, Fire Management Officer 
Vicky McClain, Range Management 
Dave Payne, Recreation Forester 

EXTENDED TEAM 
Steve Hartmann, BLM 
Sheila McNee, BLM 
Bob Rodman, BLM 
Brad Rixford, BLM 
Mike Small, BLM 
Bill Weatherly, BLM 
Ann Sullivan, GIS 
Archie Harper, Fish Biologist 
Dave Larsen, Fire Management Officer 
Rachel Ondov, Range Management 
Diane Johnson, Weed Specialist 
J. L Jones, Recreation Forester 



ID Team Leader/Writer/Editor 

Vegetation 

Minerals 

Wildlife 

NEPA, maps 

Wildlife, BLM Coordination 

Fire History 

Weeds; Grazing Allotments 

Recreation; Trails 

BLM Coordination 

Grazing Allotments 

Lands and Special Uses 

Recreation Review 

Timber Resource 

Minerals 

Map preparation 

Fish 

Forest Classification 

Grazing Allotments 

Noxious Weeds 

Recreation; Trails 



i -2 



Charlie McKenna. Engineer 

Larry Lamg, Soil Scientist 

Bo Stuart. Hydrologist 

Rae Ellen Lee, Landscape Architect 



Transporation System 
Soils. Riparian Aggregates 
Watershed. Riparian Aggregates 
Visual Quality 



i -3 



I TIE TO ELKHORN LANDSCAPE PARENT ANALYSIS 

The purpose of identifying and describing the "Implementation area" is to move from the landscape level to a more 
site specific area at which to begin identifying the management practises that will begin implementing the desired 
conditions. 

There are 3 implementation areas delineated within the Elkhorn Mountains - Crow Creek. North Elkhorns. and 
South Elkhorns (see Figure 2 in Elkhorn Landscape Analysis document). Although generally defined by watershed 
boundaries, other boundaries such as elk herd units, allotments, and landtype associations were also taken into 
account when delineating these areas. 

At a landscape level, the analysis did not identify specific limitations on implementing the desired conditions as 
they were described for the mountain range. In order to comply with laws and social/economic values, limiting 
factors must be identified and described. 

The watershed is assumed to be the area within which cumulative effects on water quality and yield can become 
limiting factors. Because it is not possible to evaluate these factors effectively at the landscape level, watersheds 
were used as the logical area within which to implement and monitor the overall desired conditions. 

The North Elkhorns Implementation Area (IA) (FIGURE 1) includes about 61,400 acres of federal lands (National 
Forest System and Bureau of Land Management) in the following watersheds: Dutchman, Warm Springs, Strawber- 
ry, McClellan, Corral, Sheep, Spokane, Antelope, Staubach, Pole, and Beaver. 

II. RANGE OF NATURAL VARIATION 

A. Historical Documents 

The "Report of the Proposed Elkhorn Forest Reserve, Montana" by R.M. Griffith was recently located at the National 
Archives-Pacific NW Region in Seattle, Washington. This report gives information by township and range on the 
vegetation (with focus on timber) and uses of the area as of 1904. According to this report, over 18,000 acres in 
the North Elkhorns IA (T8N, R2W; T9N, R2W) were cutover between 1 860 and 1 904. Griffith stated that in particular, 
the mature bull pine (ponderosa), lodgepole, and red fir (Douglas fir) had been cut especially in the north and west 
portions of T8N, R2W. He suggested that the cutover areas had excellent reproduction but large amounts of 
standing dead and down timber. Griffith stated that most of the mature bull pine had been removed from the lower 
northern and eastern slopes of 'Sugarloaf (Strawberry) Mountain, but that timber on the southern and western 
slopes was excellent. 

Roads at that time included a wagon road from Helena to Sugarloaf, and from there down Maupin and Warm 
Springs Creeks to Alhambra. He suggested that large fires burned on Sugarloaf and the main range of the 
Elkhorns" in the 1 890's and that these reseeded to lodgepole pine. 

In 1907, several areas were proposed to be added to the Elkhorn Reserve. M. Stickney described in his report, 
that most of the ponderosa pine along Prickly Pear Creek had been cutover and flumed down the creek to the 
charcoal kilns at Alhambra. He also stated that fires had swept the entire area (west flank of the Forest System lands 
in the Elkhorns), some leaving all the trees dead and others "destroying ground cover and scarring the butts of 
the trees". 

B. Fire Scar Sampling 

In order to validate the findings of the parent document, additional sampling was conducted in 1993. Twelve 
different samples were taken of ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, and lodgepole pine in three different locations. The 
locations were Strawberry Butte (ponderosa), Crystal Creek (Douglas fir), and Antelope Creek (lodgepole and 
Douglas fir). The trees sampled at each site were mature trees for the stand. The average age of Douglas fir, 
ponderosa pine, and lodgepole samples was 155, 135, and 119, respectively. 







- ■> > -~ 



" r • »•«. .3 •■* f .'."■- 

Xii^ =* ■ ft ■ 






-*>L 




^ 



;»^ 



-f, 






FIGURE 1. NORTH ELKHORNS IMPLMENTATION AREA ( ), MONTANA 



This sampling showed that around Strawberry Butte, some individual fires burned at relatively high intensities and 
scarred multiple trees'. Other fires burned with less intensity leaving some trees untouched. The last major incident 
of any significance was from a fire in 1935. 

Jn a stand left intact from the 1 988 Warm Springs fire, Douglas fir sampled confirmed the same history as depicted 
for Strawberry. Excluding the Warm Springs fire in 1988, the last major fire to have scarred trees m this area 
occurred in 1911. 

Fire scars indicated that major fires in the Antelope drainage occurred in 1 91 1 and 1 937. The fires appear to have 
burned a fairly large area within the drainage as opposed to the lower intensity fires described above. In lodgepole, 
there is very little duff and litter build-up and not enough ground fuel to support frequent low-intensity type fires. 
From time to time, however, unusual weather events would have allowed even the most marginal of fuels to burn. 
This kind of event was witnessed in 1988 in the Elkhorns. 

Based on this sampling and fire records dating back to 1937, it was concluded that fires in the North Elkhorns IA 
behaved similarly to that documented elsewhere in the Elkhorn Mountains. That is, fires occurred at intervals of 
about 8-28 years in Douglas fir and ponderosa pine, and at intervals of 19-70 years in lodgepole. 

III. EXISTING CONDITIONS 

Wherever possible, existing conditions for the North Elkhorns IA were defined more specifically then was possible 
in the landscape analysis. Some resources are not further described in this document. For such resources (eg. 
watersheds), the existing condition at this time reflects the information found in the overall landscape analysis As 
additional specific information becomes available, It will be appended to this document. 

A. Soils 

The primary soils in this Implementation Area are described in the Parent document under LTA's 3, 5, 6, 8 and 10 
(pages 13-16). Soils are generally derived from both granitic rock (LTA 5 and 6) and volcanic ash-influenced loess 
deposits. Although the granitic soils are coarse textured, they are "loamy' enough ttiat they are subject to 
compaction by heavy equipment, vulnerable to surface soil erosion, and if routed to streams can contribute to 
sedimentation problems. 

B Watershed 

General characterizations of the North Elkhorns IA watersheds are located in the Elkhorn Landscape Analysis 
within the descriptions for water (Part 2, C. Water), fisheries (Part 2, E. Fisheries), and riparian conditions (Part 2. 
D. Vegetation). 

Data collected on flow and sediment since 1983 are available for 2 streams in the Implementation Area. This 
information is summarized below. The tremendously high sediment in McClellan was from 1989 and reflects the 
erosional effects of the 1 988 Warm Springs fire. 



Stream Name 


Flow Range (cfs) 


Late Summer Flow 


Suspended Sediment (mg/l) 


Beaver Creek 


3 -357 


12 


0.2 - 17.35 


McClellan 


3- 102 


9 


0.2 - 1,017 











Information on surface and ground water in the North Elkhorns IA is found under "BEAVER CREEK" "WARM 
SPRINGS CREEK", and "MCCLELLAN CREEK" in the parent document (pages 46-47). The following section further 
describes the characteristics of the watersheds in the North Elkhorns IA using landtype aggregates as a basis (see 
Part 2, D. Vegetation, 1. Introduction, and Figure 10 in landscape analysis document). 



Additional information on the disturbance found along stream reaches was collected between 1992-1994 This 
information reflects the amount of stream bank disrupted from the impacts of cattle. In the low category, there is 
little bare soil, and vegetation is vigorous. On the other end of the spectrum, in the extreme category, banks are 
sloughing and devoid of vegetation, information on completed inventories is summarized below in Table 1. 

"• TABLE 1. Riparian Disturbance Inventory Summary 



Stream 


Low 


Medium 


High 


Extreme 


Total 


N. Pole 


50% 


50% 






6255' 


Weasel 


45% 


3% 


56% 




13,990' 


Beaver 


100% 








8976' 


Kimber 


1 00% 








7392' 


Kelly Gul. 


1 00% 








1584' 


Dutchman 


1 00% 








1056' 


Shingle N. 


1 00% 








528' 


Shingle S. 


100% 








1056' 


Mitchell Gul. 


33% 




67% 




1584' 


Staubach 


100% 








13,728' 


Crystal 


100% 








15,840' 


Jackson 


100% 








7920' 


McClellan 


100% 








16,368' 


E.Fork M. 


100% 








7920' 


Willard 


100% 








2640' 


Maupin 


100% 








23,760' 


N.Warm Spr. 


100% 








10,560' 


Mid Warm Spr. 


100% 








13,200' 


S.Warm Spr. 


100% 








5280' 



The North Elkhorns IA encompasses roughly 75 square miles or 33% of the Elkhorns land mass (within the Forest 
Boundary). This includes about 37% of the total stream miles and associated riparian habitat. This implementation 
area includes all of ELU 1 . Roughly a third of ELU 2 and ELL 3 are also included in this Implemenation Area. ELU 
4 is represented on BLM and private lands in the area. A complete description of the ELU's is found in the parent 
document (pages 27-28). 



Watersheds included in the North Elkhorns are characterized in Table 2. Steam miles and total acres are approxi- 
mate and represent both perennial and intermittant stream reaches. These numbers include both USFS and BLM 
lands. 



TABLE 2. Watersheds in the North Elkhorns Implementation Area. 



Watershed # 


Name 


Stream Mi 


Total 
Acres 


08210 


Dutchman 


6.9 


NA 


08220 


Warm Springs Creek 


18.9 


10,800 


0822A 


Badger Creek 


3.1 


810 


08230 


Strawberry Creek 


5.7 


2,240 


0825 


Spokane Creek 


0.2 


63 


0825A 


Corral Creek 


2.9 


470 




Shingle Creek 


0.3 


100 


09010 


Maupin Creek 


8.6 


3,800 


09040 


McClellan Creek 


24.6 


12,940 


12010 


Antelope Creek 


2.1 


1,090 


12020 


Staubach Creek 


3.0 


1,170 


12030 


Beaver Creek 


19.9 


16,555 


1203A 


N. Pole Creek 


1.9 


600 


1203B 


S. Pole Creek 


0.9 


760 


1203C 


Weasel Creek 


3.3 


2,265 


total 




102.3 





Landtype Aggregates 

The concept of Landtype Aggregates was introduced in the Elkhorns Landscape Analysis document. Further 
information is found in Appendix E of the Elkhorn Landscape Analysis document. The following characterizations 
are tentative based on reconnaisance valley bottom inventory data collected at a "Forest-wide" level. Aggregates 
are classified on the basis of similarities in landform and geology, which in turn are closely correlated with stream 
type and associated stream features. 

Table 3 displays the percentages of the North Elkhorns IA occupied by the predominant aggregates. Table 3 also 
displays the values for geologic erosion factors (GEF), average natural sediment rates (ANSR), sediment potential, 
drainage density, stream resiliency, and stream susceptability to disturbance by dominant aggregate. 



Most of the sediment generated from undisturbed watersheds comes from the channel itself (see ANSR, Table 3). 
Generally, sediment from surface erosion in undisturbed watersheds is insignificant when compared to sediment 
from stream channel sources. As with the geologic erosion factor, sediment rates are highest for aggregates 
associated with granitics and lowest for those associated with metasediments. 



The sediment potential index is a relative index based on geologic erosion factors and slope sediment delivery 
ratios. A geologic material may be erosive but not have the potential to deliver eroded materials to any stream This 
difference is illustrated by comparing values in Table 3 for aggregates 10 and 11. Aggregates 10 and 1 1 are both 
associated with grannies and have high erosion factors, but aggregate 10 has gentle slopes, resulting in low, 
sediment potential. 

The drainage density is the miles of stream per square mile of land. This gives an indication of the effect of 
increased flow on a stream system. That is, in the event of a thunderstorm, the energy associated with high water 
is quickly transferred into the stream channels in an aggregate with high drainage density and therefore, downcut- 
tmg may result depending on the other characteristics of the aggregate; whereas the energy of the storm would 
be more dissapated before the water reaches the stream channels in an aggregate with low drainage density. 

Susceptability and resilience characterize the response of the streams in the aggregate to disturbance. Highly 
susceptable streams are easily damaged by such disturbances as livestock hoof action. Streams with low 
susceptability tolerate higher levels of disturbance before streambank damage occurs. Resilient streams recover 
quickly from damage once the damage agent is removed or controlled. Likewise, streams with low resiliency need 
more time to recover once the damage agent is removed. A stream can have high susceptability to damage, but 
then recover relatively quickly and visa versa. 

TABLE 3. Characteristics of dominant riparian aggregates in the North Elkhorns 



% of IA 


Aggreg 


GEF 


ANSR 


Sediment 


Density 


Resilience 


Suscept. 


23% 


2 


4 


1.2-1.7 


.08 (Low) 


.59 


Low 


Mod-Low 


8% 


10 


.5 


3.0 


.17 (Low) 


.97 


Low 


Low 


47% 


11 


.9 


3.0 


.56 (High) 


1.43 


Mod-Low 


Mod 


10% 


21 


3-,5 


.7-2.0 


.13 (Low) 


1.26 


Low (steep) 
High 


Low (steep) 
High 



Units include ANSR (tons/mi2/yr). Density (miles of stream/mi2); Sediment= Sediment Potential Index (Geologic Erosion Factor times Slope Sediment 
Delivery Ratio), Resiliency (ability of stream to recover after damage has occurred). Susceptability (sensitivity of a stream system to disturbance). 

Over half of the streams and nearly half of the land mass are situated in granitic rolling uplands, slopes, and ridges 
(aggregates 10-11) In this portion of the landscape, slopes are commonly less than 40% with coarse loamy to 
sandy loamy soils id granitic boulders are common on the surfacel. Roughly a quarter of these upland slopes 
are sites capable c upporting ponderosa pine as a dominant component in the conifer overstory. Associated with 
these rolling uplands, are riparian sites occupied by cottonwood, aspen, willow, dogwood, and various forbs and 
grasses. 

About 20% of the stream miles in the North Elkhorns IA occur in locations that have been glaciated, such as glacial 
cirques, headwalls and basins and deposits of glacial till. Over 8 stream miles flow through till and morainal deposits 
and support riparian habitat with characteristics that were historically favorable to beaver populations. Glacial till 
deposits also underlay sites that have developed "wetland" features such as those occuring along Willard Creek, 
Maupm Creek, and adjacent to the springs at the head of So. Fk. Warm Springs Creek. In these locations, saturated 
conditions support such species as Carex, Juncus, Salix, Equisetum, and a variety of other forbs and shrubs. 

The rest of the area, primarily in the McClellan Creek watershed, is composed of steep glacially scoured slopes, 
often over 60%, wrth shallow soils capable of supporting only scattered subalpme fir or whitebark pine. 

Characteristics of the predominant aggregates (2, 1 0, 1 1 , and 21 ) found in the North Elkhorns IA are detailed below. 



AGGREGATE 2: Basaltic Mountain Slopes and Ridges 



This aggregate consists of basaltic mountain slopes and ridges. The drainage pattern is dendritic to subparallel 
with widely spaced (drainage density 0.59), weakly incised V-shaped bottoms. In landtypes 47 and 47B, the 
valley bottom is deeply incised and V-shaped. Adjacent sideslopes range from 40 to 60% with toe slopes being 
less than 20%. Valley bottom slopes range from 5-25% with bankful slopes being somewhat less 4-18%. 
Sinuosity is low (<1.2) and streams are considered confined (FPW/BFW < 2.7). Valley bottom widths average 
40 feet. Particle size distribution is linear with a median (D50) particle size of medium to coarse gravel and a 
dominant (D84) particle size of large cobble to small bouider. Width depth ratios are low and if in angular 
andesites or basalts, there is a step pool sequence. Woody debris can be significant at time affecting up to 50% 
of stream channel. Streams most closely fit Rosgen A2 type. 



Soil Characteristics 



Fine loamy Typic Cryaquepts are the dominant taxon within the valley bottoms of this aggregate. Mineral 
horizons are overlain by a 2-6" matt of partially decomposed organic matter and are generally saturated 
throughout the growing season; water tables are less than 1 5" from the surface, and mottles or gleymg may be 
encountered at shallow depths (7-12"). Lithic Cryoborolls are found on slightly higher landscape positions within 
these valley-bottoms and occur on 20-30% of the riparian sites. Cryaquents occupy positions immediately 
adjacent to the stream and are undeveloped complexes of silt and >50% cobbles and gravel. In angular basalt, 
the complex tends to be silt/angular medium gravel with less than 20' to bedrock. Partially decomposed woody 
debris is important in soil profiles both of stream banks and mid-level terraces. Evidence of historic fires in the 
form of distinct charcoal horizons has been found in soil profiles within this aggregate. 



Vegetation Characteristics 



Valley bottoms within this aggregate characteristically support a coniferous overstory of spruce, subalpme fir 
and lodgepole pine. Spruce and sub-alpine fir dominate and grow to the stream edge. The Subalpme fir, twisted 
stalk riparian habitat type (MRA classification) dominates up to 75% of these valley bottoms. Understory 
vegetation includes varying percentages of spruce, fir and aspen seedlings, in addition to high canopy coverag- 
es of alder, currant, bluebell, arrowleaf groundsel, false hellebore, saxifrage and ferns. The landscape tends to 
be a mosaic of different serai expressions of these species; varying in degree of dominance. Currants, ferns and 
tall forbs grow thick where the tree cover is low. Vegetation at the edges of these narrow valley bottoms reflects 
an upland influence and drier sites become a mix of riparian and upland species such as snowberry, thimbleber- 
ry, reedgrass, lodgepole pine, and Douglas fir. Although the dominant vegetation component occurs in the 
upper subalpine category, relatively few stream miles are associated with this group, the greatest proportion of 
stream miles occur within the lower subalpine component. 



Management Implications 



Where gradients permit, substrates are ideal for fish spawning habitat and the step pool sequence creates deep 
pools for fish habitat. Streams are very resistant to peak flow increases, especially where angular basalts occur 
While vegetation can be easily damaged under uncontrolled, season-long grazing; overall, streams are fairly 
resilient to the impacts of grazing. 



AGGREGATE 10: Granitic Rock/Mountain Slopes and Ridges 



This aggregate consists granitic mountain slopes and ridges that are largely undissected. Streams that do 
disect the aggregate are :ely spaced (drainage density of 0.97) and weakly incised. Valley bottoms have a 
rolling concave shape to tnem making valley bottom width difficult to measure. Valley bottom slope ranges from 
1 1 to 2b% with bankful slopes just somewhat less at 7 to 16%. Confinement (FP/BF) is moderate and at times 
difficult to define due to the concave shape of the valley. Sinuosity is low (< 1.2). Particle size distribution is 
bimodal with the dominant particle size (D84) being boulder sized material and the median particle size (D50) 
being very coarse sand. Width/Depth ratios are moderate (>12) with large boulders affecting this measurement. 
The channel sequence is step pool with significant pools associated with boulders. These streams most closely 
fit the Rosgen B2a stream type. Woody debris can be significant at times affecting up to 30% of the channel 
area and trapping significant amounts of sand size material. 



Vegetation Characteristics 



Valley bottoms within this aggregate characteristically support a coniferous potential. Spruce, and thinleaf alder 
can dominate the overstory on lower streamside terraces; along with a mixed understory of red osier dogwood, 
currant, willow, aspen seedlings, twisted stalk, and baneberry. Red osier dogwood may grow thickly on instream 
boulder bars. Cottonwood also makes up a dominant overstory component on some sites. This plant community 
falls under the spruce/rec -sier dogwood habitat type (MRA classification). Higher terraces can support a mixed 
Douglas fir, aspen, ana =ocky Mountain maple overstory with an understory of aspen seedlings, common 
snowberry, spirea, and mixed grasses. This higher terrace plant community falls under the douglas fir/ red osier 
dogwood habitat type. 



Management Implications 



Because the Bedrock decomposes to a coarse sand, fish spawning areas are limited (the particles are either 
sand or boulders). Sedimentation can be a significant issue with sand size material filling in pool areas; however, 
some of the granrtics found here are only weakly weathered and boulders dominate the stream rather than sand. 



AGGREGATE 11: Granitic Rolling Uplands 



This aggregate occupies an elevational range from 4750-7000 feet (average 5700'). Stream gradients are steep 
and range from 7-10%. This aggregate consists of granitic rolling uplands. The drainage pattern is dendritic with 
.widely spaced (drainage density of 1 .43) weak to moderately incised streams with concave Pottoms. The valley 
Pottoms are broad and irregular. Valley bottom slopes range from 5 to 16% with stream bankfull slopes 
somewhat less ranging from 5-9%. Adjacent sideslopes range from 40 to 60%. Particle size distribution is 
distinctly bimodal with a dominant particel size (D84) of medium boulder and a median particle size (D50) of very 
fine gravel/very coarse sand. Streams are confined (FP'BF < 1 .4) and sinuosity is low ( <1 .2). Width/depth ratios 
are low, with Poulders creating deep pool habitat and a step pool channel sequence. Woody debris can be 
significant, at times affecting up to 30% of the channel area and trapping significant amounts of sand size 
material. These streams most closely fit the Rosgen A2 stream type. 

Soil Characteristics 

The dominant soil taxon of these valley bottoms are found on the intermediate terraces formed over granitic 
boulders and cobbles. These are commonly Typic Cryofluvents with medium to coarse sandy loam surface 
horizons. These alluvial soils exhibit no distinct honzonation, but rather are irregular depositional accumulations 
of varying textures and colors ranging from sandy loam to sand/gravel, with very limited organic matter 
incorporated and depths to the water table ranging from 9-13". Secondary soil taxon on moister microsites 
include Typic Cryaquents of fine alluvial sand, with very low rock content (<10%) which are saturated to the 
surface. In these locations sand content decreases with depth, while clay content increases and distinct mottles 
are visible at 1 2-1 4". On slightly higher terraces, and drier sites within the valley bottoms, Hemic Cryaquolls have 
been described. In these locations depth to the water table may be 14-17" and surface horizons are deep 
accumulations of organic matter. Up to 10% of the streamside sites in this landtype aggregation are boulder; 
cobble bars. 

Vegetation Characteristics 

Valley bottoms within this aggregate characteristically support an overstory dominated by Douglas-fir and 
occasionally Engleman spruce and lodgepole pine, with aspen often present as a codominant overstory 
species. Ponderosa pine may also be present on adjacent upland slopes at lower elevations. Shrubs such as 
dogwood, alder, willow and currant dominate the understory and often form the dominant overstory along 
streambanks. Douglas fir/dogwood or Spruce/dogwood habitat types occupy approximately 70% of the valley 
bottoms. These in turn merge into drier habitat types such as Douglas fir/snowberry or Spruce/twinflower on 
the ad|acent side slopes. Directly adjacent to the water on sidebars and depressions, inclusions of forb and 
grass-dominated communities are found. Sidehill seeps are associated with higher elevations sites in this 
aggregate, and spruce and subalpine fir compose the dominant overstory on roughly 50% of the sites. On these 
sites Subalpine fir/twisted stalk or Subalpine fir/bluejoint, bedstraw habitat types are common. Communities of 
Salix bebbiana with an understory sedges, forbs and scattered spruce regeneration occupy the remaining 50% 
of the sites in these locations. 



Management Implications 



Because the granitic bedrock found within this aggregate decomposes to a coarse sand and fine gravel, fish 
spawning beds are limited. Sedimentation can be a significant issue with sand size particles filling in pools over 
time. Historically a large percentage of the acreage within this aggregate was exposed to frequent low to 
mid-intensity natural wildfires, which also influenced the natural rates of sediment production and delivery in 
these ecosystems. Removal of bank vegetation increases the potential for the loosely aggregated soils to stuff 
and add coarse textured sediment to the streams. Reductions in riparian vegetation through livestock use may 
also diminish the moisture storage capability of these sites, leading to a loss of riparian species. 



C. Vegetation 

Vegetation in the North Elkhorhs Implementation Area includes what was described for ELU 1 (LTA's 5, 6) and LTA's 
3. 4, 8, 10, and 11 in the overall Elkhorn Landscape Analysis document. 

GeneraHy, lifeforms m this IA are not dramatically changed from the natural ranges (Parent Document). However, 
within the lifeforms (grasslands, forests), structure and composition have changed due to the influences of past 
logging and fire suppression. Most of the Douglas fir and ponderosa pine stands show evidence (stumps) of past 
logging; many of these stumps are fire-scarred. Therefore, the existing canopy consists mainly of 2nd growth trees. 

Fire scar sampling indicated that in many of the mature timber stands in this IA, natural disturbances functioned 
to keep canopy closures relatively open. With the exclusion of fire, canopy closure in most of the existing conifer 
stands (other than trees colonizing into openings and riparian areas) has increased. In addition, in the sites 
historically maintained as relatively "open" mature ponderosa pine and Douglas fir (frequent, low-intensity fire), 
Douglas fir has successfully reproduced and increased canopy closure significantly. The effect of this increased 
canopy coverage and the shading that accompanies It, has been a trend toward reduced populations of shrubs, 
forbs, and grasses. This has resulted in a relatively depauperate understory as compared to "natural" conditions. 

Landtype Association Characterizations 

Most of the North Elkhorns IA consists of LTA's 5 and 6; these LTA's are not found anywhere else in the Elkhorr 
Mountain Range. Although other LTA's occur in the North Elkhorns, their representation is minor. 

The predominant landtype associations are characterized in Table 4 by lifeform (grassland, riparian, forested). 
Table 4 demonstrates that the North Elkhorns is predominantly forested. In Table 5, the forested areas are further 
classified by species, size class, and canopy coverage. Although categorized as mature Douglas fir stands, these 
stands, especially on lower elevation and dryer sites, may also contain significant components of ponderosa pine 
(LTA's 5 and 6). 

TABLE 4. Characterization of the dominant LTA's In the North Elkhorns IA. 



% lifeform 


LTA5 


LTA6 


LTA3 


LTA4 


LTA8 


Grassland 


7% 


3% 


13% 


71% 


1% 


Riparian 


2% 


< 1% 


< 1% 


< 1% 


< 1% 


Forested 


91% 


91% 


87% 


39% 


86% 


Scree 


< 1% 


6% 


< 1% 


< 1% 


13% 















TABLE 5. Characterization of the Forested Stands in the major LTA's represented in the North Elkhorns IA 
by species, size class, and canopy coverage. 



% of total forested 


LTA5 


LTA6 


LTA3 


LTA4 


LTA8 


Mature DF > 30% cc* 


25 % 


9 % 


11 % 


36 % 


2 % 


Mature DF < 30 


16 % 


2 % 


5 z 


3% 


< 1% 


Mature LP > 30 


9 % 


18 % 


18 % 


9 % 


19 % 


Mature LP < 30 


< 1% 





< 1% 


< 1% 


2 % 



10 



% of total forested 


LTA 5 


LTA 6 


LTA 3 


LTA 4 


LTA 8 


LP Poles > 30 


13 % 


20% 


19 % 


3 % 


22 % 


.LP Poles < 30 








4 % 


< 1% 


1 % 


Other Poles 


16 % 


17 % 


7 % 


34 % 


15 % 


Seed/Sapling 


20 % 


33 % 


36 % 


15% 


29 % 


Spruce/Fir 


< 1 % 


< 1 % 


< 1 % 





9 % 


Total forest acres 


9,493 


14,763 


10,463 


4,362 


26,892 



* Mature DF > 30% cc = Mature Douglas Fir stands with at least 30% canopy cover; Mature LPM < 30 = Mature Lodgepole Pine stands with 
less than 30% canopy cover 

Warm Springs Fire 

A significant portion of this Implementation Area burned in 1 988 under severe conditions (fuels, weather) (FIGURE 
2). Ground and air observations indicate that in the space of 6 years, the vegetation response to the fire has been 
varied, ranging from areas of depauperate ground cover, to areas of extremely high lodgepole pine seedling 
density. In addition, in LTA 5, there has been a tremendous increase in the canopy coverage of aspen seedlings 
Riparian areas that once supported primarily conifer vegetation now support a variety of shrubs, forbs, and 
grasses. Except for the several hundred acres (Crystal, Willard, Jackson, Warm Springs Creeks) that were salvaged 
logged, most of the burned trees remain in the stands as standing and down dead fuels. Although some permanent 
ecodata plots were established and monitored in the 6 years since the fire, that data has never been analyzed, 
nor has the fire area been mapped or characterized in its entirety. 

Riparian Vegetation 

Few riparian sites have been formally characterized in the North Elkhoms to date; however, based on the LTA 
descriptions, in the unburned riparian areas in the North Elkhoms IA, valley bottoms that characteristically 
supported an overstory dominated by Douglas fir now have greater than 30% canopy closure as compared to 
canopies of less than 10% closure that were maintained by natural disturbance regimes. Reduced understory 
regimes may contribute to increased erosion rates in the loosely aggregated soils of this area. The exclusion of 
fire has also caused riparian and upland plant communities to move toward later serai stages, with the percentages 
of sites dominated by spruce and subalpine fir greater than occurred historically. Earlier serai expressions of willow, 
alder and forb-dominated riparian communities consequently dominate fewer sites than historically. Likewise, the 
acreage encompassed by wetlands may have been reduced and the structural integrity of hydric soils and 
hydrophytic vegetation communities altered. 

Noxious Weeds 

Several species of noxious weeds are found in the North Elkhorns IA. These include spotted knapweed (Centaurea 
maculosa), diffuse knapweed (C diffusa), Russian knapweed (C. repens), dalmation toadflax {Linana dalmatica), 
leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula), sulfur cinquefoil (Potentilla recta), musk thistle (Carduus nutans), Canada thistle 
(Cirsium arvense), yellow toadflax (Linana vulgaris), houndstongue (Cynoglossum officinale), and black henbane 
(Hyoscyamus niger). 

Chemical and biological control methods have both been used in this area. As a result, weeds are largely limited 
to road right-of-ways on the system gravel roads, and along old roads and skid trails in timber sale areas. There 
are also some infestations in and around old mining disturbances. 



11 



8/2 v\ 



UcCLELLAN CRK 



AMTELOPE CRK 



• POLE CREEK CAMP 



BEAVER CRK 




8/09 689 ACRES 

8/10 3090 ACRES 

8/11 2730 

8/13 3900 ACRES 

8/13 2990 ACMES 

8/19 4173 ACRES 

8/H 4900 ACRES 



8/17 17000 ACRES 



8/18 38800 ACRES 

8/20 38200 ACRES 

8/21 37320 ACRES 

8/22 37000 ACRES 

8/24 BURNOUT AREA 



5QOC 



meters 



FIGURE 2. WARM SPRINGS FIRE AREA; FIRE PROGRESSION IN 1988 



12 



The knapweeds are mostly found along roads and on soils that have been recently disturbed. Most of these 
infestations are localized and are responding to chemical treatment. One extensive infestation of spotted knap- 
weed occurs along the Kimber Gulch Road; this infestation covers several acres, and is presently being treated 
with chemicals. In addition, the site has been treated with Terelha virens, a biological control agent. The BLM lands 
in the Montana City area, especially near Prickly Pear Creek and the gravel quarry, are extensively infested with 
"tne 3 species of knapweed. 

Canada and musk thistle occur mostly in and adjacent to old logging units. Most of the musk thistle is infected 
with Rinocyllus comcus, a seedhead weevil. This weevil has caused the decline, to a noticable level of the thistle 
levels, particularly at the edge of the Warm Springs burn area. Yellow toadflax and black henbane occur m small 
scattered patches throughout the North Elkhorns IA. 

Small patches of leafy spurge exist on the road bank below the Strawberry lookout and in Weasel Creek near the 
East Pacific Mine. These have been sprayed on a regular basis and seem to be contained and/or decreasing. 

Hounds tongue occurs on the Pole Creek grazing allotment. This species is of concern to the permittees because 
it can be poisonous to livestock if consumed in sufficient quantities. When sprayed with 2-4, D, the piant may 
become very palatable and attractive to cattle; therefore, the eradication of this weed is complicated. 

The two species of major concern in the North Elkhorns IA are dalmation toadflax and sulfur cmquefoil. Within the 
North Elkhorns, dalmation toadflax has invaded healthy rangelands and the area of the Warm Springs Fire. 
Toadflax does not respond to chemical treatment. Although the current infestations are not extensive, this species 
appears to be expanding. Dalmation toadflax is currently being treated with a defoliating moth, Calophasia lunula. 

Sulfur cinquefoil was identified for the first time in the North Elkhorns in 1 992. This weed has the potential for rapid 
expansion into healthy rangelands. However, unlike toadflax, sulfur cinquefoil responds well to chemical treatment. 
Locations sprayed in 1992 included: the area known as Queenies on Warm Springs Creek, both on private and 
Forest Service land; at the junction of the Middle and North Forks of Warm Springs Creek; on private lands 
surrounded by Forest Service Land at the head of Browns Gulch, on the Wing Ranch by road #226, and on the 
Gustafson Ranch along road #294. The private land owners and the Jefferson County Weed District are aware 
of the problem. 

Old Growth 

Because of their value and relative scarcity, the amount and distribution of existing and potential old growth forest 
in the North Elkhorns was analyzed. The structure within these stands may not be representative of the conditions 
under "natural" disturbance regimes; this structural divergence is further described in the section on "Forest 
Classification" which follows at the end of this discussion. 

Since the Forest Plans were completed, old growth definitions have changed and been standardized for the entire 
Northern Region. These definitions have been incorporated into the Helena Forest Plan glossary and public 
notification has been completed. The Forest Plan maintains that 5% of each third order drainage be managed for 
old growth forest values. 

Table 6 summarizes the amount of existing old growth in the North Elkhorns IA. These estimates of old-growth were 
derived from the Headwaters Resource Area and Helena Forest timber stand management record system in 1 989 
following the Warm Springs fire. Old-growth was tallied by watershed: all major drainages in the North Elkhorns 
were included with the exception of Beaver Creek. This information has been only sporadically checked in the field. 

No old growth stands were found on public lands managed by the BLM. Due to the proximity of these lands to 
private lands (often between private and USFS), evidence of past timber harvest can be found on nearly all the 
BLM forests in this implementation area. A few old trees do occur scattered throughout the 2nd growth stands. 
These trees were probably left uncut in the past due to poor timber quality or difficult access. 



13 



TABLE 6. Estimation of Existlnq Old Growth In th 


e North Elkhorns 




Principal Drainage 


Watershed* 
Included 


Total Acre* 


Old-Growth 
Acres 


Percent 
Old-Growth 


Acre* (and % of area) Burned 
In Warm Spring* Fire 


« 
Beaver 


Beaver 

Antelope 

Staubach 

N&S Pole 

Weasel 


16,300 


-- 




14,100 (87%) 


Spokane 


Spokane 


2.310 


53 


2.3% 


1 ,260 (54%) 


McCleilan 


McCleilan 
Maupin 
Willard 
Jackson 
Crystal 


14,450 


991 


6 9 % 


13,000 (91%) 


Strawberry 


Strawberry 
Shingle 


3,950 


1,195 


30.3 % 





Warm Springs 


Warm Springs 
Badger 
Hogan 


8,910 


753 


35% 


1,200 (13%) 


Dutchman 


Dutchman 


4,140 


590 


14.3 % 





Prickly Pear 


Prickly Pear 
Black Canyon 


7,530 


350 


46% 





North Elkhorns 
Total 




41,290* 
57,590** 


3932* 


9.5%* 


30,5S0 (54%)** 



* Doesn't include Beaver Creek drainage 
** Includes Beaver Creek 

Much of the old-growth in the greater McCleilan and Beaver Creek drainages burned in 1988; some old growth 
remains in McCleilan, mostly in Maupin Creek. There is no old-growth tally for Beaver Creek; however 87% of that 
drainage is inside the fire penmeter-and most of it burned severely. This fact, and based on field observations, 
it can be stated that very little old-growth remains in Beaver Creek. In the northern part of the North Elkhorns IA 
(Antelope Creek), 98% of that area burned and hence no old-growth remains. Most of the old-growth in the 
Strawberry, Warm Springs, Dutchman, and Prickly Pear drainages exists at pre-fire levels. 

A rough estimate of burned and unburned areas by landtype associations (LTA) within drainages-and the 
implications for old-growth forest is found in Appendix A. 

Forest Classification 

As mentioned previously, the structure and composition of the forested vegetation in the North Elkhorns has 
changed from the range of natural variation due to the influences of fire suppression and historic logging. A 
vegetation classification, based on the work of Oliver and Larson in their book Stand Dynamics, was used to 
categorize forested stands in the North Elkhorns IA by major overstory species (eg. ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, 
or Lodgepole pine) and existing structure. This classification was undertaken to define the range of management 
options m the forested vegetation of the North Elkhorns IA. The categories include one of four structural classifica- 
tions, as follows; 



14 



1. Stand Initiation stage 

2. Stem Exclusion stage 

3. Understory reinitiation stage 

4. Old Growth stage 

These four stages show the successional development of forests following major disturbances. Each stage is 
described below and discussed in terms of natural processes, risk assessment, and management opportunities 

Phase 1: Stand Initiation Stage (LP1) 

Following a major disturbance (such as fire), plant species reoccupy an area by developing stems from pre-existing 
stumps and roots, buried or newly dispersed seeds, or "advance regeneration". Advance regeneration describes 
small individual trees that are stunted in the forest understory which show accelerated growth when "released" 
(competition with other trees is decreased). Advance regeneration stems may be old chronologically; however they 
behave ecologically as young seedlings. 

The developing trees grow and utilize available resources until one or more environmental factors become limiting. 
Therefore, tree species which grow quickly following the preceding disturbance have a competitive advantage 

Fire Management opportunities: 

"Naturally" occurring fires within this stage would have low intensities due to the low amount of woody fuel 
accumulation. These fires would have a "thinning" effect. Because fire suppression tactics and technology are 
usually effective within forests categorized by this stage, the risk of escape of prescribed fire is minimal. Therefore, 
fire can be used at a maximum level in forests represented by this stage to mimic the natural thinning process. 

Timber Management opportunities: 

Timber management is limited to planting desirable species after disturbance, thinning, and other basic cultural 
activities. Christmas tree sales may be possible as trees grow to to merchantable sizes, usually four to eight feet. 

Wildlife Implications: 

Vegetation during this stage is used by wildlife species that prefer early serai conditions. Such species are 
generally not considered "sensitive' (Ruggiero et al. 1 994). Thinning of dense seedling stands may provide benefits 
to large ungulates such as deer and elk relative to movement and foraging opportunities. 

Phase II: Stem Exclusion Stage (LP2, DF2) * 

Following a major disturbance, new trees continue to occupy the available growing space until one or more growth 
factors becomes limiting such as light. At this point in stand development young trees cannot become established; 
this is referred to as "stem exclusion". 

Fire Management Opportunities: 

During this stage, 'naturally' occurring fires would generally be of low intensity, except under extreme weather 
conditions. These low intensity surface fires do not usually kill the dominant trees in the forest canopy especially 
in ponderosa pine and Douglas fir stands. Fire suppression efforts are usually successful in stands represented 
by this stage except under extreme dry, windy conditions. During periods of extreme fire danger, these stands are 
susceptible to stand "replacing" fires. High intensity, stand replacing fires are extremely difficult to control, expen- 
sive to suppress, and are unsafe for firefighters. 

Within this stage, there is little accumulated woody fuels on the surface. This, coupled with an absence of "ladder 
fuels (continuous canopy from the forest floor to the tops of mature trees) makes management-ignited fires 
(prescribed) fairly ineffective; that is, no appreciable reduction in the numbers of live trees or opening of the forest 
canopy would be expected and the pattern of mortality could be fairly random. 



15 



Natural fires in this stage could be managed with minimal risk of escape except during extreme drought conditions 

Timber Management Opportunities: 

Timber management opportunities include commercial thinning (post and pole products), followed by broadcast 
burning m ponderosa pine and Douglas fir stands (to imitate a surface fire and reduce slash) and lop and scatter 
slashing in lodgepole stands (lodgepole s thin bark predisposes it to mortality from surface fire). Managers would 
determine which individual trees will remain after thinning based on species preference, dominance, and growth 
form. Currently, lodgepole pine posts are much more marketable than Douglas fir posts. 

Wildlife Implications: 

These stands are relatively barren of wildlife due to the low availability of forage and nest trees. They are used as 
"hiding" cover by large ungulates in escaping from natural predators and humans during hunting season. Thinning 
may increase use by creating understory diversity and creating forage. Thinning, depending on the tree densities 
remaining, probably would not reduce the effectiveness of these stands for hiding cover. 

III. Understory Reinitiation Stage (LP3, DF3) 

This stage represents stands having both a mature overstory and new younger trees in the understory. The trees 
in the understory may be the same species as the overstory; however in lodgepole pine overstory, understory 
species tend to be other tree species which are tolerant of shaded conditions (Douglas fir or subalpine fir). In this 
stage, the mature dominant trees are typically well spaced (more than 10 feet apart), and the developing understory 
does not usually extend completely into the canopy of the mature trees. The understory does create a "ladder* for 
fire to burn into the crowns of the mature overstory trees. Most of the unburned forest in the North Elkhorns is 
represented by this stage. 

Fire Management Opportunities: 

The conditions represented in this stage have a higher probability of stand replacement fires (near total mortality) 
than in the stem exclusion phase. Wild fires in this stage are easily controlled during periods when conditions are 
moist. During periods of extreme drought, fire suppression efforts are fairly ineffective and very dangerous to fire 
fighting personnel. Under extreme drought conditions, stand replacement can be expected when forests at this 
stage burn. 

Prescribed fire with management ignitions is possible in this stage to thin out the understory; this in turn may 
provide more manageable wildfire conditions which is desirable along the urban interface in the North Elkhorns 
IA. Some damage to the overstory can be expected depending on the overstory species. Both Douglas fir and 
ponderosa pine have a high fire tolerance due to the insulating properties of their thick bark. Prescribed fires in 
lodgepole stands are often less successful due to the extremely thin bark of this species. This type of prescribed 
fire can be manpower intensive and therefore expensive to conduct. 

Timber Management Opportunities: 

Within this stage, timber management opportunities consist of removing sawtimber-sized products. In lodgepole 
pine stands, even-aged management would be the recommended treatment; in Douglas fir and ponderosa pine 
stands, selective harvest leaving the mature trees (shefterwood or seedtree prescription) would provide the best 
conditions for regeneration. 

Wildlife Implications: 

Stands in this stage provide habitat for a variety of wildlife species. Many bird species prefer the mature overstory 
trees for nesting, and the shading within these stands provides relief from both extreme heat and cold. This 
characteristic also makes these stands valuable for big game species to escape predates and hunters. Thinning 
of these stands, leaving the larger overstory trees, would create additional forage for wildlife; however, the hiding 
cover values would be somewhat compromised. 



16 



IV. Old Growth Stage (LP4. DF4) 

Lodgepole (LP4): Lodgepole forests in this stage have a multistoned-canopy, many large live and dead trees ana 
many fallen logs on the ground surface. None of the existing stands in the North Elkhorns IA were categorized as 
LP4; stands m this category probably existed prior to the 1 988 Warm Springs fire and could be expected to occur 
"in the future. 

Fire Management Opportunities: 

Fire in these stands is generally of low frequency and high intensity. In other words, except in extreme prolonged 
drought conditions, the typically high fuel moisture and shaded conditions represented by this stage would seldom 
support fire. Fire starts that do occur in moist conditions are easily controlled. Fires occurring during periods of 
extreme drought would generally result in stand replacement, expecially when the temperature is greater than 70 
degrees, relative humidity is low, and the wind is greater than 15 miles per hour. Under these conditions, fire 
suppression in these stands is ineffective, expensive, and extremely hazardous to firefighter safety. 

As a result of the "all or nothing' fire behavior of these stands, it is virtually impossible to conduct any type of 
management ignited-prescribed fire that will result in anything but stand replacement. 

Timber Management Opportunities: 

Timber management opportunities consist of even-aged harvest or clearcutting. Thinning is usually not effective 
since lodgepole pine is shallow-rooted and therefore subject to mortality from wind-throw. 

Wildlife Implications: 

The standing and down dead material in these stands provides habitat for a variety of small mammals, birds, and 
some predators (such as pine marten). For the same reasons, these stands may be movement barriers for larger 
wildlife species. 

Douglas f Ir/ponderosa pine (DF4) : This type of old-growth forest has large-diameter Douglas fir and/or ponderosa 
pine trees. These trees are typically widely-spaced (1 to 30 feet) with diameters from 1 5 to 40 inches. Grass, forbs 
and/or shrubs dominate the understory with individual tree seedlings or occasional pockets of regeneration 
present. Some downed-logs of large diameter are present in canopy openings occasionally created through 
disease, wind-throw, or old age. A small amount of this stage is present in the North Elkhorns IA primarily m 
Strawberry Creek. 

Fire Management Opportunities: 

The structure in these stands creates a situation of ladder fuels; therfore, the fire suppression response to almost 
any fire start must be quick to be prevent stand replacement. Prescribed fire using management ignitions is difficult 
because the fuel ladders present predisposes the mature overstory to damage under many combinations of fuel 
moisture, wind speed and relative humidity. This hazard would be reduced if some form of mechanical treatment 
to reduce ladder fuels was undertaken prior to the reintroduction of fire. 

Timber Management Opportunities: 

Timber harvest could be used to mimic the effects of a naturally occurring stand structure in this stage The 
suggested prescription would be to thin the existing stands leaving the largest and healthiest trees in place It would 
be important to leave some of the younger stems to represent an uneven-age stand structure. 

Wildlife Implications: 

Because of their scarcity, this type of old growth is often very valuable habitat for 'sensitive' species of wildlife 
(species thought to occur at low population levels). The conditions represented by the 'natural' structure of these 
stands provides the necessary nesting conditions for bird species including larger raptors (owls, goshawks) The 
open 'natural' structure would also provide habitat for a variety of small mammals and forage for large ungulates 

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In their existing condition, these stands are less valuable for many wildlife species; however, they do provide hiding 
cover for big game. 



18 



D. Fish 

Specific fisheries information is presented by stream. 

Field surveys have been completed for a number of streams in the North Elkhorns Implementation Area. The 
'parameters measured in these surveys include (1) streambank disturbance, (2) overhanging vegetation, (3) 
undercut banks, (4) width/depth ratios, and (5) embeddedness (sediment). Data was run through a computer 
program (COWFISH) designed to determine habitat suitability for fish production. COWFISH scored each parame- 
ter on a percent scale and assigned a final rating of excellent, good, fair, or poor to each stream reach. Where 
COWFISH has been completed, ratings are indicated in the stream narratives that follow. 

Beaver Creek 

According to Hadley (1980), Beaver Creek supports populations of cutthroat trout and eastern brook trout. Brook 
trout were found to 8" in length; cutthroat were found up to 12" in length. Genetic testing of cutthroat indicated a 
mixture of westslope, rainbow, and Yellowstone genes. Although much of the drainage burned in 1988, habitat for 
fish appears excellent. Percent fines (fine sediments = <6.3 mm) in spawning gravels have ranged from 17 4% 
in 1993 to 35.1% in 1988 (following the Warm Springs fire). No COWFISH data is available. There are several 
waterfalls along the main stem of Beaver Creek which appear to inhibit fish passage. The upper drainage has 
potential to support cutthroat if reintroduced. 

Observations indicate that a reach on Weasel Creek near its confluence with Beaver Creek has been impacted by 
livestock. There is an abandoned mine on the South Fork of Beaver Creek. No sampling has been done on the 
South Fork but there have been unconfirmed reports of fish occupying the stream. There is little angling due to 
the ruggedness of the country and general inaccessibility of the stream (trail only). 

Staubach Creek 

Flowing mostly on private land, this stream supports pure westslope cutthroat trout (up to 7" in size) on a 0.5 mile 
stretch of the Forest. No other information is available. 

McClellan Creek 

This municipal watershed supports eastern brook trout in the lower reaches and pure westslope cutthroat (to 10") 
in the upper reaches. Cutthroat are also found in the East Fork of McClellan. Little public angling occurs in either 
stream. The COWFISH rating from 1990 indicated fair condition. Percent fine sediments in spawning substrates 
was 39% in 1989. Approximately 1.7 miles of road parallels the stream and is responsible for a portion of the 
sediment deposition. This road is under contract for water drainage and gravel surfacing in 1994. 

Crystal Creek 

Eastern brook trout occupy the first 2.5 miles of this stream starting at its confluence with McClellan Creek. 
Cutthroat (no testing done) occupy about 1 mile of the stream. Some angling occurs in Crystal Creek near its mouth 
(confluence with McClellan) at a dispersed campsite. Ten instream structures were installed in 1991 to create pool 
habitat which was thought to be limiting. Also in 1991, the Crystal Creek Road, which parallels the stream, was 
re-surfaced. This significantly reduced the amount of sediment (granitic soils) introduced into the creek. Percent 
fines in spawning gravel had been very high prior to this (53.9% in 1991). Although cattle graze in the area, woody 
vegetation apprears to keep them from accessing the riparian area, and as a result, impacts are minimal. 

Jackson Creek 

Eastern brook trout occupy the lower end of this drainage. Cutthroat trout are found in an artificial pond, reportedly 
stocked in 1948, on private land. This stream was badly washed out after the Warm Springs fire in 1988. Percent 
fines were at 37.3% in 1991. The culvert at the confluence with McClellan Creek was replaced in 1992. 



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Maupln Creek 

The beaver ponds in this drainage support dense populations of small (6" and less) eastern brook trout for about 
2 miles. The stream supports a fair amount of angling. Livestock grazing appears to be detrimentally affecting 
shrubs in the riparian area. Unreclaimed mining spoils are found at the head of the drainage. Some rehabilitation 
on Forest System lands was accomplished in 1992. This included removal of debris, 200 ft of streambank 
stablization, willow plantings, and revegetation on adjacent uplands. 

Wlllard Creek 

This stream supports fingerling brook trout and cutthroat for 0.3 miles upstream from its confluence with McClellan 
Creek. Willard Creek provides important spawning and rearing habitat for fish from McClellan. The primary limiting 
factor for this steam as a fisnery is its small size. The beaver ponds in the upper end of the drainage are reportedly 
barren. 

Strawberry Creek 

Water volume in Strawberry Creek is low and the stream does not support fish. COWFISH ratings from 1987 and 
1988 indicate that its habitat potential as a fishery is poor. Three riparian exclosures were erected along the creek 
in 1989. Although no formal monitoring has been done, observations suggest some recovery of the woody 
vegetation/aspen components in the riparian zone; however, further recovery may be limited by the shading effect 
of adjacent conifers. 

Warm Springs Creek 

Both the Middle and North Forks of Warm Springs Creek support eastern brook trout. Those in the North Fork are 
found within the first 0.25 mile above the Forest Boundary and average 5" in length; those in the Middle Fork occur 
up to 1 mile above the Boundary and average 8" in length. Old roads and mine spoils in the upstream sections 
of the Middle Fork contribute sediment and probably impact water quality. This is shown by the percent fines in 
spawning gravel which were at 40% in 1993. 

South Fork Warm Springs Creek 

The South Fork was evaluated in 1980 by biologists from the Montana Dept. of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Cutthroat 
and brook trout were found for 2 miles upstream above the Forest Boundary and brown trout (up to 9") were 
collected about a mile above the Boundary (Hadley 1 980). The cutthroat are of unknown genetic purity but appear 
to have "hybrid spotting". An attempt to collect fish for genetic testing was made in 1994; after a day of intensive 
electro-fishing, no cutthroat were found. The upstream habitats that supported brook trout were described as 
"pristine" and the absence of cutthroat was attributed to competition between brook trout and cutthroat for limited 
spawning areas. A natural barrier about 2 miles into the Forest prevents fish from moving further upstream-- 
although an additional mile of suitable habitat is available. This branch of Warm Springs Creek is accessible only 
by trail on the Forest and presumably receives little fishing pressure. 

Hogan Creek 

This small tributary of the South Fork was also evaluated in 1980. Small cutthroat trout were found in the lower 0.1 
mile reach, but nothing above that. The small size and low flows of this stream are the primary limiting factors for 
fish. 

Dutchman Creek 

This stream supports a pure strain of westslope cutthroat (upstream from the boulder barrier 0.1 miles above the 
Forest boundary), as well as rainbow and eastern brook trout. The COWFISH rating in 1989 was fair to good (0.66 
out of a possible 1 00). Since that time, the stream has been taken out of the grazing allotment. Substrate 
information obtained in 1993 shows percent fines of 29.2%. There is no fisheries information for the portion of 
Dutchman Creek on BLM lands downstream from the Forest boundary This tract of BLM is not permitted for 
livestock use. 



20 



E. Wildlife 

This assessment focuses on the key aspects of the wildlife resource in the North Elkhorns IA. Baseline information 
on wildlife throughout the Elkhorns as a whole can be found in the Parent Document. 

'Three basic management approaches are applied to wildlife populations in the Elkhorns: (1) coarse filter, (2) fine 
filter, and (3) featured species. The coarse filter approach seeks to maintain viable populations of most wildlife 
species by managing as much as possible for a pre-settlement array of habitat groups and ecosystem processes 
Some species, however, require special attention because they are under particular pressure from human activities 
or because their population viabilities are otherwise at risk (fine filter approach). Still others need to be managed 
to provide a recreational benef