June 23, 2018

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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Sensible Statement About Predators

“The issue is not wolves, it’s the combination of wolves, grizzly bears, black bears and cougars,” Bob Jamieson, a systems ecologist and environmental consultant, told the paper. “The prey species can’t handle the combined impact of those four animals,” he said. “A lot of people [blame] habitat problems because they don’t want [to] wrap their head around the predator issue.”<<<Read More>>>

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National Elk Summit Coming to RMEF Headquarters

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will host representatives from 18 states and two federal agencies at a two-day summit May 3-4, 2016.

The conference will address successes, challenges and strategies affecting elk populations, public lands management, habitat, hunting, public access, scientific research, disease and other timely topics.

“This is an invaluable opportunity for us to rub shoulders with our partner agencies that do so much to look after elk and elk country,” said Blake Henning, RMEF vice president of Lands and Conservation. “It also gives the state and federal agencies a chance to discuss commonly-held challenges and solutions to a myriad of land and wildlife issues.”

Directors or assistant directors from Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming will participate. Other states may also offer written updates about their elk populations. Additional representatives from the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and RMEF will attend.

Steven Rinella, award-winning author, RMEF life member and host of the TV Show MeatEater,will address the summit as well as RMEF President/CEO David Allen, other RMEF executive staff and board members.

“RMEF remains committed to ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage by offering financial and other means of support to state and federal agencies. We look forward to working together to make that happen,” added Henning.

RMEF assisted with successful elk restoration projects in Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin and is offering assistance for ongoing efforts in West Virginia.

As of March 31, 2016, RMEF and its partners have completed 9,966 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects with a combined value of more than $1 billion. These projects have protected or enhanced more than 6.8 million acres of habitat and opened or secured public access to 852,628 acres.

RMEF hosted its first national elk summit in June of 2013.

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New Mexico Road Easement Opens Door to Public Access

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation teamed up with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and New Mexico State Land Office to provide funding for a continual two-mile right-of-way road easement that provides hunter access to 52,000 acres of public and State Trust Lands in west-central New Mexico.

“Opening and securing public access remains at the heart of our conservation mission,” said Blake Henning, RMEF vice president of Lands and Conservation. “Luera Road provides the only hunter access to this New Mexico State Trust property in Catron County.”

The landscape provides quality habitat for elk, deer, black bear, cougar and wild turkey in the Luera Mountains.

“This project is a good example of a cooperative effort between the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, the State Land Office and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation,” said Alexandra Sandoval, director for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. “By helping fund this easement, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has provided public access to prime elk habitat that would otherwise be inaccessible to the public. It demonstrates the importance of collaborative partnerships for the benefit of sportsmen and women.”

“New Mexico’s State Trust Lands offer ample hunting terrain with abundant wildlife, and we are pleased to work together with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Department of Game and Fish in the spirit of allowing proper hunting access to these lands while also managing them prudently for the benefit of future generations,” said New Mexico State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn.

RMEF has a long conservation history in New Mexico. To date, RMEF and its partners completed 333 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects with a combined value of more than $39.3 million. These projects have protected or enhanced 497,624 acres of habitat.

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