Adaptive Management

Willows in Horseshoe Park
Willow shrubs inside an elk exclosure in Horseshoe Park thrive after five growing seasons.



Adaptive management is the process of using information as it becomes available to adjust management actions. Rocky Mountain National Park staff consistently monitor management actions and resource conditions to determine the progress of elk and vegetation management objectives and make changes as needed.

Burned shrubs in Moraine Park
Willows need active management to recover after the Fern Lake Fire of 2012.


This process can continually improve management techniques through flexibility and adaptation. RMNP elk and vegetation management uses the following seven-step approach:

  • Collect baseline data on existing conditions
  • Establish desired future conditions for the elk population
  • Establish desired future conditions for aspen, riparian montane willow and upland herbaceous vegetation communities
  • Apply management actions
  • Monitor the effectiveness of management actions
  • Perform general surveillance for other potential resource effects
  • Reconsider management actions if monitoring and research show unsuccessful results


Connect to more information about elk and vegetation management below.

Last updated: July 14, 2015

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

1000 US Hwy 36
Estes Park, CO 80517


970 586-1206
The Information Office is open year-round: 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. daily in summer; 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Mondays - Fridays and 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Saturdays - Sundays in winter. Recorded Trail Ridge Road status: (970) 586-1222.

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