Strutting through the Elk and Bison Prairie

Strutting through the Elk and Bison Prairie

Elk & Bison Prairie, Wildlife
Some folks seem to forget that the Elk and Bison Prairie is also home to lots of other wildlife. For example, this was a good morning to see wild turkeys, which happen to be in the mood for their spring breeding season.  This is the time where the male turkeys (gobblers) like to show off their prowess to the neighborhood females (hens) by fanning out their tail feathers and puffing out their body feathers and ‘strut’ to show off how handsome they are to the hens and how big and mean they look to other competing gobblers… kind of like a crude runway model. If a male is able to intimidate his competition into backing down, he is more likely to get to breed with the females nearby.  If another…
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Dusk till Dawn

Dusk till Dawn

Elk & Bison Prairie, Environmental Education, Heritage, History, Homeplace, Nature Station, Recreation, Sustainable Recreation, Trails, Uncategorized, Wildlife
I looked east and spotted the orange glow piercing through the oaks still leafless from the long winter nights. I turned right from the trailhead and regained my footing as I reached a muddy path. I slipped and contorted in many ways as I tried to maintain my footing. My mind kept racing, “warm thoughts, warm thoughts,” but it did nothing to stop my now uncontrollable shivering. Only a madman could be up in these conditions for my specific agenda. I stumbled in the half-morn light crashing heavily on a twig. The crack pierced the cold morning air and a young buck darted from my left. I watched him bounce effortlessly up a hill flushing three startled turkeys. It was morning at Land Between the Lakes and I was on…
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Expected crowds delay opening of Elk and Bison Prairie on eclipse day

Expected crowds delay opening of Elk and Bison Prairie on eclipse day

Community, Customer Service, Elk & Bison Prairie, Solar Eclipse
What we said... [caption id="attachment_9479" align="alignright" width="300"] Warning sign at Elk & Bison Prairie[/caption] Yes, we said the Elk & Bison Prairie would be open for viewing on eclipse day, Monday, August 21, 2017. A year ago, this sounded like a good idea. Due to the increased estimation of how many people will be here, we had to rethink this. Public safety is the key.... The Elk & Bison Prairie will open at 3pm on eclipse day. Here’s why… No restrooms or a public source of water. Designed only as a drive-thru, the prairie is not appropriate for all-day visitors, who must stay within ten feet of their vehicles at all times. There is no shade within ten feet of the road and pop-up tents are not allowed in the…
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Elk go to West Virginia

Elk go to West Virginia

Community, Elk & Bison Prairie, Wildlife
Update 3/5/2017 By Curtis Fowler, Range Technician at Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area I recently received a quick update from West Virginia’s elk manager regarding the status of elk Land Between the Lakes provided to West Virginia for release into the wild. It seems that most of them are doing OK up there in the coal hills, though 2 have died, the rest seem mostly healthy and content. The herd has stayed mostly on the Tomblin Wildlife Management Area so far, which is very good! They have stayed primarily within a 2.5 mile circle and have not entered any surrounding communities. [caption id="attachment_32675" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Once an elk is sedated, the teams go to work taking care of the animal. Blood is drawn, ear tags replaced, and a…
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Partners for Elk

Partners for Elk

Community, Elk & Bison Prairie, Stewardship, Wildlife
Submitted by Josh Frye, Public Affairs Specialist I was honored to sit in with our wildlife and range staff as they hosted a delegation from West Virginia’s Division of Natural Resources this week.  The feeling of history in the making was tangible as we discussed details of their State’s first elk re-introduction. [caption id="attachment_25494" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Representatives from the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources meet with Land Between the Lakes staff, volunteers, and members of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation June 8, 2016.[/caption] As in the past, Land Between the Lakes’ elk herd may provide the seed stock needed to establish a free ranging – wild – population.  Some of our 62 elk, and their offspring, just might play this vital role for the citizens of West Virginia.  Governor…
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Tree Planting at the Elk and Bison Prairie

Tree Planting at the Elk and Bison Prairie

Elk & Bison Prairie, Field Guide, Natural Resource Management, Plants, Restoration, Stewardship
Submitted by Yvonne Helton, Silviculturist We recently planted approximately 1500 shortleaf pine and 70 Bur Oak seedlings within the perimeter of the Elk & Bison Prairie. We chose areas where pine mortality occurred and staff burned off debris piles. [caption id="attachment_25238" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Bull elk watches staff plant Shortleaf Pine and Bur Oak in the Elk & Bison Prairie at Land Between the Lakes, Photo by Yvonne Helton[/caption] So why did we plant Shortleaf Pine?  We value fire tolerant traits such as its ability to re-sprout and natural resistance to fire scar rot.  Shortleaf Pine also produces frequent cone crops. These attributes suit the Elk & Bison Prairie perfectly. Shortleaf Pine may also create a more diverse habitat.  We observed declines of Virginia Pine in the Elk & Bison Prairie…
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Antler Shed Season

Antler Shed Season

Elk & Bison Prairie, Environmental Education, Field Guide, Volunteer, Wildlife
Submitted by Patricia Skibko, Wildlife Apprentice If you want to see elk with their antlers, come now to the Elk & Bison Prairie. Each year bull elk lose their antlers in the early spring. [caption id="attachment_22988" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Elk shed their antlers each year in the Elk & Bison Prairie, Photo by Josh Frye[/caption] Antlers typically fall off independently of each other. Usually both shed within about one week. They take a lot of punishment through fights with other bulls during the mating season. When elk lose their antlers, new ones start growing almost immediately. Throughout a bull’s lifetime each new set of antlers grown are larger than the last. Elaborate antlers are an indicator that an elk bull is a strong and desirable mate. Throughout this natural process, elk…
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How many acres of grasslands, barrens, savannas, and woodlands?

How many acres of grasslands, barrens, savannas, and woodlands?

Elk & Bison Prairie, Natural Resource Management, Questions from the Public, Restoration, Stewardship, Wildlife
Over time, how many acres of LBL will be converted to the Pre-European landscape plan of grasslands, barrens, savannas and woodlands? Our Land and Resource Management Plan reserves 8,630 acres for oak-grasslands demonstration areas.  The 2004 Land and Resource Management Plan for Land Between The Lakes refers to the Pre-European landscape specifically for the Oak Grasslands Restoration Demonstration Areas, the Elk &Bison Praire-700 acres, and the south Bison Range-180 acres. Land Between The Lakes is divided into multiple land uses, including administrative areas, recreation and environmental areas, and natural resource areas.  These acres are designated to be managed for a range of ecosystems.  Their location on the landscape was selected based on the ecology of the land.  This includes historical data, such as the presence of remnant tree and plant…
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Cost for managing an oak-grassland habitat

Cost for managing an oak-grassland habitat

Elk & Bison Prairie, Funding, Natural Resource Management, Questions from the Public, Restoration, Wildlife
What is the anticipated costs and what is currently budgeted for maintenance of the existing '8600' acres of savanna/grass lands? Accounting data for the costs of this project (8,600)? We project out our costs for programs such as timber and fire then submit a request for funding annually. This is done as one budget item. We do not break it down into such detail. As land managers we take into account our areas that need treatments and plan for those areas several years in advance. You can find more information about where we spend our funds in one of our “Questions from the Public” articles at https://landbetweenthelakes.us/where-does-the-money-go/. [caption id="attachment_20874" align="aligncenter" width="396"] Firefighters light a prescribed burn in the Buffalo Trail area. Prescribed burning is a land management tool used to…
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