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History of Hardware Ranch WMA
Hardware Ranch was purchased in 1945 by the State of Utah from the Box Elder Hardware Company. The ranch was purchased using sportsmans' dollars generated from the Wildlife Restoration Act. The state established the Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area (WMA) as a location to operate a winter feeding program for Rocky Mountain Elk. Today, the ranch operates as part of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
Cache Valley, located 15 miles down Blacksmith Fork Canyon from the ranch, was the historical winter range for local elk herds. By the 1930s, agriculture and towns had encroached upon this winter feeding area, and friction between elk and farmers was mounting. Feeding the elk at Hardware Ranch WMA helped eliminate this problem. Over the years, the elk have learned that they no longer need to migrate to the valley during the winter to find food.
Hardware Ranch WMA has served as a center for elk research since the 1950s. Understanding the biology and population dynamics of elk is important for sound management of the herds. Today, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources continues these programs and has expanded the mission of Hardware Ranch WMA to include public tours of the wintering elk herd.
In addition to elk herd management, Hardware Ranch provides habitat for many species of wildlife, promotes wildlife research and provides visitors with an up-close opportunity to learn about wildlife.