October 16, 2018

RMEF, Partners Take Action, Protect Popular Recreation Area, Wildlife Habitat

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—A 120-acre tract of wildlife and riparian habitat in western Montana, under threat of development, is now permanently protected and open to public access thanks to timely collaborative work by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners.

“This project is a big win for a multitude of reasons,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “It’s a win for elk and other wildlife. It’s a win for multiple-use and it’s a win for everyone seeking better access to our public lands.”

The property is located immediately to the north of the Bass Creek Recreation Area (BRCA) between Missoula and Hamilton. It lies at the base of the Bitterroot Mountains, borders Sweeney Creek and is approximately two miles east of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. It is also surrounded on three sides by the Bitterroot National Forest while a five-acre subdivision lies immediately to the east.

“This project maintains habitat values and prevents fragmentation of vital habitat for elk and other wildlife,” said Larry Irwin, RMEF board member who lives nearby in the Bitterroot Valley. “It also enhances recreation activity in the popular Bass Creek area and prevents the conversion of a non-motorized trail into a permanent vehicle route.”

A bank previously foreclosed on the land with the intent of selling it on the private market. If that happened, the Bitterroot National Forest could have been obligated to grant permanent access via the establishment of a motorized road through the property. Instead, RMEF and its partners worked together to purchase the land and convey it to the Bitterroot National Forest, thereby placing it in the public’s hands.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment for the Forest Service, our partners, and most of all, public land users,” said Tami Sabol, Stevensville District ranger. “The close proximity of the Bass Creek Recreation Area to Missoula and the Bitterroot Valley make it one of the most popular areas on the Bitterroot National Forest, providing a quality ‘backyard community’ recreation experience.”  Sabol also emphasized “this purchase consolidates existing federal ownership and provides connectivity across the Bass Creek, Larry Creek, and Sweeney Creek watersheds, which is a fantastic benefit for wildlife.”

The property is important winter range for elk and mule deer and is also home to whitetail deer, turkey and other bird and mammal life.

The BCRA is used by approximately 60,000 people each year for hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, mountain biking and other recreational pursuits. The acquisition provides improved access to adjacent public land and to Sweeney Creek.

“Farmers State Bank is so excited to partner with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Forest Service to provide a new outdoor recreational area in the Bitterroot Valley. Working with the RMEF and Forest Service to bring this project to fruition is a great example of community involvement and is one of the many reasons Farmers State Bank is proud to call Western Montana home,” said Kay Clevidence, Farmers State Bank president.

Funding for the project came from the Land and Water Conservation Fund Priority Recreational Access program, Montana Fish and Wildlife Conservation Trust, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s Torstenson Family Endowment, National Wild Turkey Federation, Mule Deer Foundation, Bitterroot Backcountry Horsemen and Farmers State Bank.

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Newberg, Jacobsen Launch Elk Talk Podcast

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—Simply stated, it is all-elk, all-the-time. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is proud to present Randy Newberg and Corey Jacobsen’s Elk Talk Podcast.


“All my media platforms have one goal – lower the hurdles for those wanting to hunt our public lands,” said Newberg. “This podcast will be informational content to do just that; inform, inspire and hopefully provide a few laughs along the way.”

“To be able to work with Randy and focus on a subject we’re both incredibly passionate about – and to bring others along on the experience through the platform of a podcast – is going to be awesome!” said Jacobsen.

Newberg is host of Fresh Tracks and the popular Elk Talk video series. Jacobsen owns elk101.com and is the 9-time and reigning world elk callingchampion.

Elk Talk Podcast will focus on all things elk including elk calling, hunting and biology as well as conservation. It will also feature tips, hints, lessons learned and valuable insights from two hunters who focus on elk year-round.

“Randy and Corey are among America’s premiere elk hunters. They have a wealth of experience that will benefit both the bow hunter and the rifle hunter,” said Steve Decker, RMEF vice president of Marketing. “RMEF is excited to support this podcast and we look forward to following their pursuits.”

Recorded at RMEF headquarters and other locations, the podcast debuted on July 6. Go here to listen to its first edition.

Elk Talk Podcast is available on Stitcher, iTunes, Google Play, elktalkpodcast.com and on Instagram @ElkTalkPodcast.

Presented by RMEF, other Elk Talk Podcast sponsors include Gerber Gear, goHUNT.com, onX Hunt, Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls and Sitka.

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RMEF Team Elk Returns

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—Heart-pumping elk hunts and tales of conservation success highlight the eighth season of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s award-winning television show, RMEF Team Elk, presented by Bass Pro Shops/Cabelas’s.

Team Elk captures the essence of up-close, adrenaline-filled encounters with elk as well as the beauty of the backcountry,” said Steve Decker, RMEF vice president of Marketing. “We are excited to unveil another season as we highlight how Hunting is Conservation.”

Season eight of RMEF Team Elk begins the week of July 2. It airs every Sunday at 9 p.m. Additional weekly airings include Mondays at 3 a.m., Tuesdays at 5:30 a.m. and Thursdays at 9:30 a.m. (all times MT) on Outdoor Channel.

Hosted by Brandon Bates, highlighted episodes feature an elk migration scientist and the conservation director of one of the nation’s largest outdoor retailers talking conservation and chasing elk in New Mexico, a father-son duo from Wisconsin hunting elk in Montana using archery equipment they build and two participants of the Conservation Leaders for Tomorrow program in Colorado on their first-ever elk hunt, among others.

Presented by Bass Pro Shops/Cabela’s, additional sponsors include Browning, Browning Ammunition, Buck Knives, Danner, Eberlestock, Mathews, PEAK BlueDEF, Sitka, Wildgame Innovations, Yeti and Zeiss, with special thanks to ALPS OutdoorZ, Bog-Pod and Yamaha.

“We are grateful for our conservation partners who value hunting and support RMEF’s conservation mission of ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage,” added Decker.

You can watch the first six seasons of RMEF Team Elk online anytime for free on the Elk Network.

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More Pennsylvania Elk Country Protected, Open to Public Access

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—Another piece of Pennsylvania elk country is permanently protected and open to public access thanks to a collaborative effort by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC).

The Woodring Farm II project entails 37 acres and is the newest addition to State Game Lands 311. It is located near a project finalized in 2014 and marks the 13th RMEF land protection and access project in Pennsylvania elk country.

“Even though these three parcels amount to just 37 acres, every piece of the puzzle counts in expanding the total amount of elk habitat acreage protected in Pennsylvania,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “We appreciate our partners at the Pennsylvania Game Commission as well as RMEF members and volunteers for their continual support.”

The property lies within the heart of the Pennsylvania elk range in Elk County’s Benezette Township which boasts the highest elk population density in the state.

“This acquisition is critical as it protects a very popular public corridor for elk viewing.  Public visitation to these viewing areas increases every year,” said Bryan Burhans, PGC executive director. “However, high-quality elk range is finite. This area is now protected perpetually thanks to our partners at RMEF and an anonymous donor.”

Funds generated from Pennsylvania elk tags and the anonymous donation to RMEF provided funding for the project.

Since 1991, RMEF and its partners completed 425 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Pennsylvania with a combined value of more than $25 million. These projects protected or enhanced 26,907 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 10,152 acres.

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Volunteers Contribute More than $21 Million in Value to RMEF Conservation Mission

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.— The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s volunteer force of 11,000-strong donated more than $21 million in labor during 2017.

“We have a profound gratitude for our volunteers who give so much of their time, talents and energy on behalf of RMEF,” said Nancy Holland, RMEF president and CEO. “They constantly go above and beyond in helping to further our shared conservation mission of ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.”

The Independent Sector used data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to calculate the 2017 value of one volunteer hour as $24.14. RMEF volunteers average approximately 80 hours of service annually. If you do the math, that equates into $21,243,200 of total value for elk and elk country.

RMEF volunteers host fundraising banquets, membership drives and other events across more than 500 chapters from coast-to-coast. Those generated dollars are put back on the ground in their respective states and around the country to benefit elk, elk habitat, public access projects, hunting outreach events and scientific research.

Volunteers also give of their time to help with youth seminars, camps and other activities that bolster the future of hunting and conservation. Additionally, they roll up their sleeves to carry out work projects such as fence pulls, noxious weed treatments, building and repairing wildlife water sources, assisting with elk restoration and other activities. RMEF volunteers carried out more than 130 such projects across 30 states in 2017.

Since 1984, RMEF volunteers helped to protect or enhance more than 7.3 million acres of wildlife habitat, open or improve access to 1.2 million acres, complete more than 11,000 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects, and assist with the successful reintroduction of elk in seven states and one Canadian province.

“There is absolutely no doubt that RMEF would not be where it is today without our dedicated volunteers. We encourage all men, women and children interested in conserving elk and elk country to join us,” added Holland.

Go here to learn more about becoming a RMEF volunteer.

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Elk Habitat Protected, Hunting Access Improved in Colorado

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—Thanks to a conservation-minded landowner and a key state funding program, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation joined Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) to permanently protect 2,677 acres of vital elk habitat in northwest Colorado.

“We are grateful to Rick Tingle, a RMEF life member, for placing a conservation easement on his Louisiana Purchase Ranch,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “Additionally, this project highlights the critical need for the Colorado Wildlife Habitat Program (CWHP) and its Habitat Stamp which supplied important funding to help push things through to the finish line.”

“With a fast-growing human population, it is more important than ever before to ensure the state’s wildlife has the habitat it needs to survive in perpetuity,” said Bill de Vergie, CPW area wildlife manager. “Thanks to funds provided by Great Outdoors Colorado and CPW’s Habitat Stamp Program, a very valuable stretch of land is now protected through the CWHP. Some limited public hunting access will also be provided so the benefits of this easement will pay dividends well into the future.”

CWHP provides a means for CPW to work with private landowners, local governments, and conservation organizations to protect important fish and wildlife habitat and provide places for people to enjoy opportunities to hunt and fish.

Since the ranch is bordered on three sides by State Land Board and Bureau of Land Management land in a part of the state home to Colorado’s largest elk herds, it provides connectivity for elk and mule deer migration. Thousands of elk pass through the area during the spring and fall. The property also provides summer and winter range for both species and other wildlife.

“This truly is a special place,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO, who has visited the location. “We are grateful to the Tingle family for recognizing and helping us protect the wildlife values of this land.”

Access is improved to surrounding public lands because the landowner will provide perpetual unlimited permission to public hunters for a 25-day period each year with drive-through access. In addition, he signed off on a 10-year CPW agreement to provide access for six elk and/or deer hunters on lands off County Road 23 during a three-day window during Colorado’s third rifle season.

Since 1987, RMEF and its partners completed 726 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Colorado with a combined value of more than $165.2 million. These projects protected or enhanced 447,910 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 107,992 acres.

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Wildlife Habitat Protected, Access Improved in Nevada

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation worked with a conservation-minded landowner, the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) and the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to protect 4,500 acres of key wildlife habitat in northeast Nevada via a voluntary conservation easement agreement. The project also improves access to nearly 19,000 acres of adjacent public land.

“We appreciate Bryan Masini and his partner owners of the Wildhorse Ranch in recognizing the importance of protecting and conserving the wildlife values of their land,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer.

Located approximately 70 miles north of Elko, the property lies within the Owyhee River watershed just east of the Independence Mountain Range.

As part of the transaction, the NDOW holds an access agreement that allows public access for hunting and other recreational activities to the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and Bureau of Land Management lands which border the ranch.

“We are grateful for all the partners in this effort and find great hope in innovative approaches such as this conservation easement,” said Tony Wasley, NDOW director. “This is a great solution that protects private land, while also maintaining the land’s benefits for the wildlife species that depend on it.”

“This specific area is year-round habitat and crucial summer range for up to 100 elk. It’s also a key area for mule deer and antelope, crucial habitat for Greater sage-grouse and it features riparian habitat for fish and other species,” added Henning.

Current range conditions consist of enough forage for cattle and wildlife and a plan has been implemented to ensure that best management practices maintain quality habitat going forward.

“This project is a great example of the private and public partnership efforts that exist to protect critical habitats and preserve agricultural working lands for future generations,” stated Ray Dotson, NRCS state conservationist.

The Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Agricultural Conservation Easement Program and the Nevada Department of Wildlife provided funding for the project.

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Colorado Elk Herd in the Crosshairs

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is raising a word of warning about a “quiet” movement in Colorado seeking to place wolves on the landscape. It also has grave concerns about the tactics used by environmentalists and animal rights groups behind such efforts.

A representative of a wolf advocacy group, the Turner Endangered Species Fund, recently addressed a gathering of Colorado citizens claiming the placement of wolves on the Colorado landscape is “most germane” to the state’s future, and added “there’s no downside and there’s a real big upside.”

RMEF strongly disputes those claims.

“Wolves have a measureable and oftentimes detrimental impact on big game management wherever they go. Their reintroduction into the Northern Rocky Mountains led to a reduction of the Northern Yellowstone herd by more than 80 percent,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “Among other things, wolves also greatly reduced elk numbers to dangerously low levels in central Idaho and have a profound impact on declining moose and deer populations in the Western Great Lakes region.”

The Northern Yellowstone Elk herd numbered more than 19,000 before wolf reintroduction in the mid-1990s but dropped below 4,000 in 2012. Increasing grizzly, black bear and mountain lion populations also played a role in the decline. Minnesota’s moose population numbered approximately 8,840 in 2006 but since dropped 55 percent to an estimated 4,020 in 2016.

“We have also witnessed time and time again that pro-wolf groups seek to ignore agreed upon population recovery goals, thus moving the goals posts, so to speak, by filing obstructionist lawsuits designed to drag out or deny the delisting process altogether and allowing wolf populations to soar well above agreed upon levels,” said Allen. “These groups totally ignore what they themselves agree to once they get wolves on the landscape and they use lawsuits to manipulate the system, ignoring state-based management. And, in many cases the American taxpayers are paying for their legal fees,” Allen added.

Animal rights groups filed at least nine lawsuits regarding wolf populations in the Northern Rockies and at least six others affecting wolves in the Western Great Lakes, as well as several others that have impacted the listing status of wolves across the contiguous 48 states. Currently, two cases are pending in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, affecting listing status in Wyoming and in the Western Great Lake states.

As part of the wolf reintroduction efforts in the mid-1990s, federal and state agencies agreed to delist wolves and place them under state management when the original minimum recovery levels reached 100 wolves each in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Wolves met those delisting standards in 2002 but 2015 minimum populations were nearly 500 percent above that—786 in Idaho, 536 in Montana and 382 in Wyoming. The original population objective for wolves in the Western Great Lakes was 1,350 but at last count the overall minimum population numbered greater than 3,600.

Though well above minimum population levels, federal protections remain in place for wolves in the Western Great Lakes region and Wyoming due to environmental lawsuits.

“An unhealthy and litigious precedent has been set that once pro-wolf groups get a foot in the reintroduction door, they kick it open and file lawsuit after lawsuit to stymy the delisting process while using the wolf as a fundraising tool. Colorado’s elk population will be next in the crosshairs,” cautioned Allen. ”And by the way wolves are nowhere near endangered.”

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Wyoming Project Secures Access to 47,000 Acres of Public Land

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—Hunters, anglers, hikers and those who enjoy other forms of outdoor recreation will benefit from a recent Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation project in Wyoming.

RMEF worked with a private landowner, Linda Zager, and several other partners to permanently protect and open access to 160 acres of prime elk and riparian habitat in southwest Wyoming.

“This small piece of property provides important habitat for elk and other wildlife but since we conveyed it to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), it is also now open to the public and improves additional access to approximately 47,000 acres of surrounding public land,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer.

The tract is nestled in the Wyoming Range at the confluence of Miller and La Barge Creeks which feature vital spawning and rearing habitat for the Colorado River cutthroat trout. In addition, it provides winter range for elk and is a key migration route for elk, moose, mule deer and other wildlife.

RMEF also worked with the BLM and a local contractor to repair what was an impassible road through the property.

The project links the Lake Mountain Wilderness Study Area, Miller Mountain Management Area, additional BLM lands and the Bridger-Teton National Forest while also providing public access and parking.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund’s Sportsmen Recreational Access and RMEF provided funding for this project.

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Elk Country Conservation Month Comes to Bass Pro Shops

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—Beginning August 1st, Bass Pro Shops will show its support for elk, elk habitat and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for the tenth consecutive year by sponsoring Elk Country Conservation Month.

“We are grateful for and appreciate the continued support of a company that is such a dedicated conservation partner,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “Bass Pro Shops continues to demonstrate its leadership and commitment to fish and wildlife conservation, our hunting heritage and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation through this promotion and their matching gift.”

During the month of August, in-store patrons who visit Bass Pro Shops across the United States can “round up for elk country,” or, in other words, round up their purchases to support RMEF’s mission.

“We want to give our customers the opportunity to contribute to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its great mission to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage,” said Martin MacDonald, Bass Pro Shops director of conservation. “Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris also established a matching donation program from Bass Pro to Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. We donate an additional 50 percent of the cumulative customer donations during the month of August.”

Since 1984, RMEF and its partners have completed 10,198 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects with a combined value of more than $1 billion. These projects protected or enhanced more than 6.8 million acres of habitat and opened or secured public access to 911,000 acres.

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