The Big Dry Arm Spring Storm in the Great Basin Red Cliffs Desert Tortoise Reserve March Morning on the Platte River After a Spring Storm in the Great Basin Hunting Upland Birds at Kingsbury Lake Waterfowl Production Area Sandhill Migration on the Platte River Badlands Sunrise The Green River at Ouray NWR North Park Lupines Moab Sunset
Refuge System - Planning
Mountain-Prairie Region
Graphic button showing the 8 state mountain prairie region

Comprehensive Conservation Plan

National Elk Refuge—Wyoming

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On completion, this comprehensive conservation plan will set out the management and use of the National Elk Refuge for 15 years. Hosting the world's largest concentration of wintering elk, the refuge lies directly south of Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks in northwestern Wyoming.

Photograph of a bull elk with large antlers in velvet. Credit: USFWS.

Rocky Mountain Elk.

The purposes of the refuge are to provide (1) a sanctuary and breeding ground for birds, and (2) a refuge for elk and other big game animals while allowing grazing.

  • Established in 1912 and expanded in 1927.
  • Comprises about 25,000 acres.
  • Located in Teton County, Wyoming.
  • Headquartered in Jackson, Wyoming.

Grassy meadows, marshes, forest, sagebrush, and rock outcrops create diverse and rich habitats at the refuge, where about 175 species of birds and at least 47 mammal species have been observed. In addition to the large elk herd, a free-roaming bison herd winters at the refuge.

In-Progress Plan Status

Fall 2010 – Complete

Start planning
Notice of intent in Federal Register

Winter 2010 – Complete

Gather public input

Summer 2012 – Complete

Develop management alternatives

Early 2014

Prepare draft plan and environmental assessment (EA)

Spring 2014

Release draft plan and EA for public review
Notice of availability in Federal Register

Summer 2014

Analyze public comments

Fall 2014

Complete final plan
Notice of availability in Federal Register

Information about the planning process is in Planning Overview. Terms are in the Glossary.

Many types of waterfowl, including trumpeter swan, find refuge in the nearly 1,600 acres of open water and marshland. Other notable wildlife species are bald eagle, peregrine falcon, moose, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, gray wolf, and mountain lion.

The Bison and Elk Management Plan completed in 2007 contains goals, objectives, and strategies for managing bison and elk in the National Elk Refuge and in Grand Teton National Park for 15 years. Therefore, this comprehensive conservation plan will not address bison and elk management on the refuge but will cover all other aspects of refuge management including migratory birds, threatened and endangered species, visitor use, and cultural resources.

Public involvement »

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You can contact us by comment form, email, postal mail, telephone, or fax—refer to Contacts below.

To hear from us about this planning effort, you can get on our mailing list.

Public meeting
None at this time.

Contacts »

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Planning team leader
Toni Griffin
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Division of Refuge Planning
134 Union Boulevard, Suite 300
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
303 / 236 4378 telephone
303 / 236 4792 fax

Refuge email

Refuge address
National Elk Refuge
c/o Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge
P.O. Box 510
Jackson, Wyoming 83001

Refuge telephone
307 / 733 9212

Refuge Web site


Documents »

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Comprehensive conservation plan (CCP)
None at this time.

Planning process documents
Planning update 2 2011 (1 MB PDF)
Planning update 1 2011 (1 MB PDF)
Notice of intent to develop a CCP 2010 (PDF)

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with Others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American People.
Last modified: November 14, 2019
All Images Credit to and Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Unless Specified Otherwise.
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