STERLING – The Alaska Department of Fish & Game is partnering with the Kenai Natives Association to boost moose numbers in Game Management Subunit 15A by removing mature trees to create more browse on KNA land.
Backed with funds appropriated by the Alaska State Legislature, work has already begun on approximately 85 acres located north of Sterling, off Swanson River Road.
Moose numbers in Subunit 15A have declined in recent years primarily due to a lack of second-growth trees and shrubs the animals depend upon for food. Historically, second growth was generated by wildfires which burned periodically across the Kenai Peninsula. Mature forests razed by fires are soon replaced by new aspen, birch and willow. Large wildfires on the Kenai Peninsula in 1947 and 1969 created broad expanses of excellent moose range, much of which has since developed into mature forest. Because human communities and infrastructure have grown in recent decades on the Kenai and in surrounding regions, wildfires today are closely managed and often suppressed because of public safety and property concerns.
In place of wildfire, ADF&G and KNA are using mechanical logging equipment to remove mature trees and generate the second-growth browse moose require. Although small in terms of creating the amount of browse needed to significantly bolster moose populations, the project represents an important first step in evaluating existing habitat and considering other collaborative ways to improve browse availability across Subunit 15A.
Operations, which began last week, are funded with a portion of a $250,000 appropriation to ADF&G by the Legislature to enhance moose habitat on the Kenai Peninsula and the Matanuska-Susitna Valleys.
For more information about the Kenai Subunit 15A moose habitat enhancement project, contact Sue Rodman at 907-267-2274.