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Snoqualmie group creating elk-friendly habitat near Mount Si

Aiming to lure elk away from locals' lawns and gardens, the Snoqualmie Valley Elk Management Group is creating elk-friendly habitat near Mount Si.

Volunteer plantings are slated to start this spring on the Washington Department of Natural Resources land at the CCC flats, a 1,000-acre plateau at the end of the Mount Si Road.

"We are operating under the idea of 'If we build it, they will come,'" said elk group spokeswoman Kalli Willson.

The plateau was thinned several years ago, and is now covered by 30-year-old trees, slated for logging, interspersed with slash from the old cut and thick brush.

"Right now, it's not conducive to elk," Willson said. "It's overgrown. The canopy is so dense that forage cannot grow."

The elk group will plant grasses and ground cover on old logging roads on the property. The work also includes new corridors, allowing elk to roam between the meadowy lanes.

"Elk are like kids — they're going to go to the easiest route," Willson said. "If you've got debris on the floor, they're not going to go there."

In some parts of the plateau, many trees have been damaged, girdled by hungry bears. Downed dead trees will be piled or chipped and the area planted as meadow.

Once planting is complete, the management group will study the area over several months to determine how many elk are using it.

"Then, we can continue in larger amounts," Willson said. "This is the first step."

Similar projects have been done by the Tulalip and Muckleshoot tribes, as well as the Bonneville Power Administration, according to the group.

The project is expected to draw elk from the vicinity of Mount Si Road.

"This would become more favorable to them than hanging around people's gardens," Willson said.

Beyond elk, other animals and birds will be attracted by the new habitat.

Willson cautioned that the finished elk habitat is not a park for people.

"This is meant to be a place for the animals to go, so they do not have to come in contact with people," Willson said.

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