August 22, 2019

Colorado Elk Country Gets Upgrade from RMEF Grants

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—Nearly $300,000 in Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation grants fund more than two dozen habitat enhancement, research and hunting heritage outreach projects in 28 Colorado counties.

The grants, awarded in 2014, total $296,543 and directly benefited Adams, Archuleta, Chaffee, Delta, Denver, Dolores, Eagle, El Paso, Garfield, Grand, Grant, Gunnison, Hindsdale, La Plata, Larimer, Las Animas, Mesa, Moffat, Montrose, Morgan, Park, Pitkin, Rio Blanco, Routt, Saguache, Summit and Teller Counties. There was also one project of statewide interest.

“Colorado has some of the best elk hunting and elk habitat in the United States,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “These thinning, prescribed burning, seeding, noxious weed treatments and other projects will only improve Colorado as a home of superb elk country.”

In addition, Allen thanked Colorado’s RMEF volunteers who conducted fundraising projects at their banquets, through membership drives and other events to generate the funding. He also thanked volunteers and members around the nation for their dedication to conservation.

RMEF grants fund the following 2014 projects, listed by county:

Adams County—Provide Torstenson Family Endowment (TFE) funding to expand the range of shooting skill clinics with the purchase of four trap throwers and an eight-trap wireless controller for the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) Novice Hunter Program where new hunters learn about hunting strategies, laws, regulations and how to safely handle shotguns in the field. The equipment will be located at CPW’s Barr Lake State Park in Brighton and Jackson Lake State Park in Orchard (also affects Morgan County); and co-sponsor the Colorado Wildlife Employees Protective Association sporting clays fundraiser to benefit the college funds for the three children of CPW Officer Jon Wangnild who passed away in 2013.

Chaffee County—Broadcast burn more than 4,000 acres at varying intensities to stimulate mountain mahogany sprouting and reduce pinyon-juniper invasion into grassland, dead and down fuels and duff layer on the San Isabel National Forest.

Denver County—Co-sponsor the Colorado Conservation Reception at the 79th Annual North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Denver; and RMEF volunteers host its Shooting Access for Everyone (SAFE) shooting inflatable at the Bass Pro Fall Hunting Clinic.

Dolores County—Burn 284 acres to increase grass and forb production and reduce fuels on high use elk and deer winter range as part a larger-scale effort to treat 25,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands in the Dolores River Canyon.

Eagle County—Thin 605 acres of pinyon-juniper encroachment into sagebrush habitat on BLM lands above the Colorado River near Burns to benefit multiple species particularly elk, mule deer and sage-grouse.

El Paso County—RMEF volunteers host the SAFE shooting inflatable at Muley Days which provided educational and hands-on instruction in wildlife, outdoor and conservation education; and RMEF volunteers host the SAFE shooting inflatable at the Bass Pro Fall Hunting Clinic.

Garfield County—Install more than 8,000 feet of buried pipeline in the Garfield State Wildlife Area to provide irrigation water to six forage plots totaling nine acres on elk and deer crucial winter range in an effort to draw animals away from private agricultural lands.

Grand County—Provide funding for a Colorado Department of Transportation project to deploy motion-triggered cameras to help locate two future wildlife overpasses and five wildlife underpasses to help reduce vehicle-wildlife collisions on a 10.6-mile stretch of Highway 9 between Green Mountain Reservoir and the Colorado River near Kremmling where more than 450 wildlife documented mortalities took place in the winter months since 2005 (also affects Summit County); and provide funding for noxious weed treatments on 382 acres on the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest including the Beaver Park, Big Meadows, Cub Creek, Cole Creek Ponds, Cottonwood Pass, Cub Creek, Doe Creek Trail, Eightmile Creek, Horseshoe Trail, Morgan Gulch, Strawberry Bench Trail and Ute Pasture areas. The district has contracted backcountry weed treatments with RMEF since 2002.

Gunnison County—Conduct aggressive treatment of newly established cheatgrass via ATV and pack mule application on 555 acres of crucial winter range on the Almont Triangle and Flat Top area of the Gunnison National Forest, some of the most important winter range for elk in the Gunnison Basin; and install 25 GPS radio collars on elk on the Gunnison National Forest and BLM lands to determine habitat use, movement patterns to get better information so that decision makers can assess and respond to conflict “hot spots” as the Gunnison Basin continues to be impacted by development, grazing, hunting and changes in habitat over time (also affects Hinsdale and Saguache Counties).

LaPlata County—Apply noxious weed treatment with herbicide to 65 acres and 60 acres with biological control in Bonnell Canyon on the San Juan National Forest, an elk winter concentration and transition area 10 miles northeast of Bayfield (also affects Archuleta County).

Larimer County—Remove dead and dying mountain pine beetle-killed lodgepole pine on 50-100 acres in the Cherokee State Wildlife Area to promote aspen regeneration and forage understory growth within elk winter range and winter concentration areas.

Las Animas County—Remove conifers on 240 acres of oakbrush and mixed conifer forests to open canopy and improve forage production on the Bosque del Oso and Spanish Peaks State Wildlife Areas.

Mesa County— Mechanically treat 500 acres of pinyon-juniper and mountain shrub communities on the northwestern end of the Uncompahgre Plateau on the Uncompahgre National Forest in elk summer and winter concentration range (elk densities are 200% greater than the surrounding winter range) in the final phase of a three-year project that previously treated 296 acres; improve 520 acres of elk year-long and high concentration winter range on public lands south of Grand Junction with weed treatment, riparian restoration, and reseeding (also affects Delta and Montrose Counties); burn 1,000 acres across three adjacent burn units to create a mosaic of underburned and burned areas and further enhance forage in previously mechanically treated oak and mountain brush habitat as well as isolated aspen stands on the Uncompahgre Plateau of the Uncompahgre National Forest to benefit elk winter, summer and transition range, mule deer summer and transition range and winter range for Merriam’s turkey; RMEF volunteers host the SAFE shooting inflatable at Outdoor Heritage Day which provided educational and hands-on instruction in wildlife, outdoor and conservation education to youth ages 16 and under; and RMEF volunteers host the SAFE shooting inflatable at the 30th Annual Kite Day in Grand Junction.

Park County—Provide funding to purchase seed mix for application to 14 acres receiving brush hog treatment to remove decadent grass and potentilla along the Middle Fork of the South Platte River in the Tomahawk State Wildlife Area to increase forage for wintering elk; thin 60 acres of conifer encroachment in the James Mark Jones State Wildlife Area within declining aspen stands to stimulate suckering, reduce wildfire potential and to entice elk to stay and/or return to managed public lands; and improve 500 acres of riparian habitat on the Pike National Forest with a variety of techniques including weed treatment and seeding, water development outside the riparian zone, gully contouring, and felling of beetle-killed trees to create check dams to reduce erosion and make the area more difficult to access during recovery.

Pitkin County—Improve water delivery for irrigation system providing wildlife forage on the Basalt State Wildlife Area which is dedicated to winter wildlife including elk, deer and bighorn sheep.

Rio Blanco County—Treat 350 acres of residual and new noxious weed infestations within the Flat Tops Wilderness, Pagoda Roadless Area and in the Morrison Creek drainage including the Bushy Creek Roadless Area on the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest as part of an ongoing effort to maintain high quality browse on elk summer, winter and calving range (also affects Routt, Grand and Garfield Counties); and provide funding to update monitoring technology, replacing existing sample set of VHS collars with satellite/GPS collars and adding more collars with a project goal to evaluate big game use and distribution relative to habitat enhancement activities to help develop long-term priorities for landscape scale habitat management actions for the Bears Ears and White River elk herds (also affects Moffat and Routt Counties).

Routt County—Improve the Mad Creek elk winter range by treating 50 acres of weed infestations with backpack and ATV sprayers as part of a ten-year effort on the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest.

Saguache County—Rip and seed ten road miles and place barriers to provide habitat security on the Gunnison National Forest, keep big game on public land and prevent early movement to private land and improve hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities in an area comprised of calving grounds for elk and moose, and fawning areas for deer and pronghorn.

Teller County—RMEF volunteers host the SAFE shooting inflatable at CPW’s annual family Outdoor Skills Day sponsored which provided instruction regarding shooting, archery, fishing, mountain biking, geocaching and living and playing in bear country.

Statewide—Sponsor Country Jam USA Military Day in Grand Junction in June of 2014.

Conservation projects are selected for grants using science-based criteria and a committee of RMEF volunteers and staff along with representatives from partnering agencies and universities. RMEF volunteers and staff select hunting heritage projects to receive funding.

Since 1985, RMEF and its partners have completed 637 different conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Colorado with a combined value of more than $154.1 million.

Partners for the Colorado projects include Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Bureau of Land Management, and the Arapaho-Roosevelt, Grand Mesa, Gunnison, Medicine Bow-Routt, Pike, San Isabel, San Juan and Uncompahgre National Forests as well as local businesses, universities and various sportsmen, wildlife, civic and government organizations.

RMEF uses TFE funding solely to further its core mission programs of permanent land protection, habitat stewardship, elk restoration and hunting heritage.

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Montana Elk Habitat, Wolf Management, Research Bolstered by RMEF Grants

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.-Grants totaling $451,042 provided by the Rocky Mountain will fund more than three dozen habitat enhancement, research, hunting heritage and other conservation outreach projects across the state of Montana in 2014.
The grants will positively affect 12,198 acres in Beaverhead, Broadwater, Deer Lodge, Flathead, Glacier, Jefferson, Lewis and Clark, Lincoln, Madison, Meagher, Missoula, Pondera, Powder River, Ravalli, Rosebud, Sanders, Silver Bow, Sweet Grass and Toole Counties. There are also two projects of statewide interest and another of Western Montana interest.

“A series of prescribed burning, thinning and noxious weed projects will clear the way for new grasses and forbs that provide proper nutrition for elk and other wildlife in some of Montana’s best elk habitat,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “These grants also help pay for four research projects that monitor elk populations and deal with habitat as well as provide funds for wolf management and a land acquisition that improves public access.”

RMEF’s mission is to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. Since 1985, RMEF and its partners completed 821 different conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Montana with a combined value of more than $140.4 million that opened or secured public access to 215,046 acres.

“Montana has more than 12,000 RMEF members spread across 20 different chapters. We thank them and our diligent and dedicated volunteers who raised the grant funding by hosting banquets, membership drives and other events,” added Allen.

Allen also thanked volunteers and members across the nation for their dedication to conservation and elk country.

RMEF grants will help fund the following 2014 projects in Montana, listed by county:

Beaverhead County-Enhance 400 acres of sagebrush grasslands in the Proposal Rock area on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest with jackpot burning to reduce slash concentrations following 2012 and 2013 conifer thinning treatments; and provide RMEF volunteer manpower to host a wounded veteran hunt for two veterans during the fall of 2014.

Broadwater County-Provide funding to treat spreading weeds beyond the normal buffer on roads within the Helena National Forest (also affects Lewis and Clark and Meagher Counties); provide funding to place radio collars on up to 30 cow elk in eight population segments in the Elkhorn Mountains for a study to evaluate the pre- and post-effects of the mountain pine beetle epidemic on elk distribution, nutrition and habitat (also affects Jefferson and Lewis and Clark Counties); and treat 330 acres of prime elk habitat with chainsaw thinning, prescribed fire and weed treatments to promote forage growth, enhance aspen and create openings in dense lodgepole pine stands on the Helena National Forest.

Deer Lodge County-Provided RMEF volunteer manpower to cut and stack 2.5 miles of old fencing on the Mount Haggin Wildlife Management Area to provide unhampered passage of elk, antelope and other wildlife across an important elk calving area and antelope summer range.

Flathead County-Treat weed infestations on 460 acres in the Spotted Bear Ranger District on the Flathead National Forest with emphasis on elk winter ranges along the South Fork of the Flathead River corridor in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex; and provide RMEF volunteer manpower to host a SAFE (Shooting Access for Everyone) Challenge shooting event at the Flathead Valley’s Montana Sportsman’s Expo that also features activities, exhibits and seminars about hunting, fishing, rafting, hiking, biking, horseback riding, skiing and more.

Glacier County-Provide funding for the Glacier County 4H Shooting Sports Program which teaches the fundamentals of archery and firearms shooting sports including safety, proper form and how to care for equipment (also affects Toole and Pondera Counties).

Lewis and Clark County-Apply prescribed burn treatment to 232 acres in the Hogum/Black Diamond watershed approximately seven miles east of Lincoln on the Helena National Forest to enhance elk winter range and forage openings in the Upper Blackfoot River Valley; thin 1,263 acres in the Poorman Creek watershed project area on the Helena National Forest to improve forage conditions for elk and other wildlife habitat in the Upper Blackfoot Valley; and improve forage on 300 acres on the Helena National Forest by applying weed treatments to retain elk on public land with yearlong habitat in the Big Belt Mountains. A portion of the treatment area (30%) is private land that will be conveyed to the Helena National Forest with funding assistance from RMEF.

Lincoln County-Implement the second of a three-phase cooperative weed management program to reduce spotted knapweed infestations and increase forage production on 1,000 acres of state, Plum Creek Timber Company (PCT) and Kootenai National Forest lands across the Pleasant Valley Fisher River Basin; chemically treat approximately 274 miles of road as well as 877 acres of adjacent field and side-hill sections of land that support wintering elk and deer away from roads on PCT, Stimson Lumber Company and state lands within the Fisher/Thompson Conservation Easement on the Kootenai National Forest; provide funding for pre- and post-burn weed treatments on 400 acres and seed 50 acres near the Koocanusa Reservoir in the Warland, Bristow and Cripple Creek drainages on the Kootenai National Forest to enhance key elk winter range; provide funding to place radio collars on six cow elk for a study identifying from where and how far elk migrate to winter range on the Tobacco Plains north of Eureka including across the Canadian border to give researchers information on elk biology and movements, travel corridors and to assist management of this trans-boundary herd; and apply weed treatments to 460 acres on the Kootenai National Forest to restore winter range in the Tobacco Valley near the Canadian border.

Madison County-Treat 50 acres of weed infestations scattered across the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest and private lands that are an important migration route leading to the backcountry. This project will also remove approximately 1.25 miles of fence in poor condition located between a private ranch protected with a conservation easement and national forest lands; prescribe burn 317 acres to improve aspen stand health and reduce conifer encroachment in the Gravelly Mountains on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest; and apply 140 acres of noxious weed treatment in the Bear Creek area along the west flank of the Madison Range on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest to enhance habitat for elk, mule deer, pronghorn, white-tailed deer, grizzly and black bears.

Missoula County-Treat 160 acres of noxious weeds and apply some seeding on private land protected by a conservation easement to benefit elk and deer crucial winter range and improve upland bird habitat; provide funding for OutdoorsFest in Bonner-a free family event offering instruction about wildlife, how to shoot a bow and other skills; and provide RMEF volunteer manpower to host a SAFE Challenge shooting event at the Great Rockies Sport Show-a family-friendly hunting, fishing, boat and RV show.

Powder River County-Prescribe burn 250 acres on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands south of Broadus to return dense ponderosa pine stands to more historical conditions and increase understory productivity on yearlong elk habitat; and apply prescribed burning treatment within a 1,648-acre mosaic of ponderosa pine forest and grassland on the Custer National Forest approximately 16 miles south of Ashland to improve forage for elk, browse and forage for white-tailed and mule deer, pine seed production for wild turkey, and the prey base for goshawk (also affects Rosebud County).

Ravalli County-Provide funding to place radio collars on 20 bulls and 45 elk as part of a two-year study in the Sapphire Mountains to better understand changing elk distribution and assist public and private landholders in updating their management policies; and provide funding for the Youth Conservation & Education Expo at the Teller Wildlife Refuge-a free event giving youth the opportunity to learn basic outdoor skills, land stewardship, hunting ethics and wildlife conservation with activities including RMEF’s SAFE Challenge gun range, archery, fly casting, game calling, horse packing, big game scoring and other skills (also affects Missoula County).

Sanders County-Carry out prescribed burning of 441 acres of elk and deer winter range in the Dry and Cherry Creek drainages near Thompson Falls on the Lolo National Forest as part of a series of 20 different 200-acre unit burns to improve wildlife habitat.

Silver Bow County-Provide funding to herbicide spray 300 acres of BLM lands within the Big Hole River watershed to enhance elk and mule deer winter range as well as calving habitat; thin encroaching conifers from 590 acres of sagebrush habitat on BLM lands in the Cline Gulch and Harriet Lou Creek areas near the Wise River in the Big Hole Valley (also affects Beaverhead County); apply weed treatment on 145 acres in the Charcoal Gulch area of the Fleecer Wildlife Management Area to improve big game winter range as well as remove expanding Douglas-fir from 25 acres of aspen and 70 acres of sagebrush habitat and thin an additional 50 acres; provide funding for a study to determine the impact of livestock grazing on the nutritional value of winter range within the Mount Haggin Wildlife Management Area; and thin 320 acres to enhance sagebrush communities that provide habitat for elk and other wildlife in the Dickie Hills area near Wise River on BLM lands.

Sweet Grass County-Thin and burn 100 acres of BLM lands on the northern fringes of the Absaroka/Beartooth Mountains and parallel to the Boulder River to stimulate aspen and hardwood shrub productivity to encourage elk to forage on public land.

Statewide-Provide funding for the Montana Association of Land Trusts and its efforts to promote and support excellence in private voluntary land conservation across Montana through leadership, collaboration, education and outreach; and provide funding from the Torstenson Family Endowment (TFE) for 2,322 orange hunter safety vests for graduates of the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Hunter Education Program.

Western Montana-Provided $50,000 in grant funding to assist wolf management in Montana including $25,000 awarded to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks for additional collaring of wolves to expand the science related to wolf pack locations, size and home ranges, and $25,000 awarded to USDA Wildlife Services to resolve wolf conflicts with livestock depredation

Conservation projects are selected for grants using science-based criteria and a committee of RMEF volunteers and staff along with representatives from partnering agencies and universities. RMEF volunteers and staff select hunting heritage projects to be funded.

Partners for 2014 projects in Montana include the Beaverhead-Deerlodge, Custer, Flathead, Helena, Kootenai and Lolo National Forests, Bureau of Land Management, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and other federal, state and county agencies, organizations, businesses, foundations and private landowners.

TFE funding is only used to further RMEF’s core mission programs of permanent land protection, habitat stewardship, elk restoration and hunting heritage.

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Pennsylvania Elk Country, Hunting Heritage Get Upgrade from RMEF Grants

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation awarded $148,800 in grants to acquire and enhance elk habitat in Pennsylvania as well as help fund more than 20 youth hunting heritage and other projects around the state.

The grants directly affect Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Bradford, Bucks, Cameron, Centre, Chester, Clearfield, Clinton, Dauphin, Elk, Fayette, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Huntingdon, Lancaster, Lycoming, Perry, Philadelphia, Potter, Sullivan, Tioga, Washington and Westmoreland Counties. Three other projects have statewide benefits.

“We have a long history in the state of Pennsylvania and this latest round of grants demonstrates our continued commitment to improving elk country there,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “A good chunk of the funding went toward the purchase of prime elk country in Elk County’s Benezette Township which is now protected and open for the public to enjoy.”

RMEF has approximately 11,000 members in Pennsylvania. Allen thanked them and the local volunteers who raised the grant funding at banquets, through membership drives and other events. He also thanked volunteers and members around the nation for their dedication to conservation, elk and elk country.

The grants will help fund the following projects, listed by county:

Armstrong County—Provide funding for parents and boys and girls in grades K-12 attending the Armstrong County Sportsmen and Conservation League Youth Field Day where they learn about water safety presented by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission plus other outdoor skills such as fishing, archery, trapping, wildlife identification and calling, compass reading, and shooting muzzleloaders, shotguns and .22 rifles.

Beaver County—Provide funding to purchase equipment and supplies to add muzzleloader as a club and youth field day activity for Aliquippa Bucktails Young Bucks Youth Club participants.

Bedford County—Provide funding for the Bedford County Sportsmen Club’s Youth Pheasant Hunt for youth ages 12-16; provide funding to help purchase ammunition for the Everett Sportsmen Junior Rifle Club which serves 64 members, many of which move on to shoot at the collegiate level; and provide funding to help offset the cost of ammunition for the Everett High School Rifle Team.

Cameron County—Continue long-time habitat enhancement work with herbicide, lime, seed and fertilizer treatments on 2,050 acres of herbaceous openings in the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Northcentral Region (also affects Elk, Clearfield, Clinton and Centre Counties).

Dauphin County—Provide sponsorship funding and volunteer support for the Capital Area Sportsmen Youth Field Day in Harrisburg where more than 300 youth participated in archery, fishing, shooting, fly tying, boating safety, canoeing, a Cherokee Run obstacle course and other activities.

Elk County—Provide funding for disking, fertilization and the planting of clover and desired grasses and natural forbs on 16 acres of reclaimed surface mines at State Game Lands #311 to benefit elk, elk viewing and hunting in an area visited by more than 100,000 people annually; provide $100,000 of Torstenson Family Endowment (TFE) funding to acquire and open 81 acres of prime elk habitat in Benezette Township to the public which also includes parking areas and walking trails to enhance elk viewing; provide funding for the Elk County Sportsmen for Youth 2014 Field Day where youth ages 10-14 participate in eight different hands-on events dealing with hunting, fishing, trapping and conservation.

Fayette County—Assist the Fayette County Sportsmen’s League in providing six months of weekly training for youth in preparation for the regional and statewide Pennsylvania Youth Hunter Education Challenge competitions.

Fulton County—Provide volunteer manpower and funding for the Fulton County Sportsmen for Youth Field Day at Camp Sinoquipe near Ft. Littleton where boys and girls ages 10-15 take part in outdoor-related activities ranging from small bore and black powder rifle shooting, clay bird shooting and archery, to trout fishing, fly tying, waterfowl retrieval, wild turkey hunting tips and hunter safety, furbearer trapping, ATV safety and wildlife education (also affects Franklin, Huntingdon and Perry Counties).

Greene County—Provide co-sponsorship and volunteer manpower for Hunting Hills Youth Day which introduces boys and girls from across the Tri-state region to bird dogs, shotgun shooting, rifle shooting, muzzleloader shooting, archery, nature walks, history of firearms, fishing, turkey calling and gun safety; and provide funding for the Hunting Hill Hawkeyes, Greene County’s Scholastic Clay Target Program team, in order to promote the program’s mission and teach young people the fundamentals of gun safety and the value of wildlife conservation.

Lycoming County— Provide funding and volunteer support for the Consolidated Sportsmen of Muncy Creeks Fishing Derby for boys and girls ages 12 and under to get out and fish (also affects Sullivan County).

Philadelphia County—Offer funding for the Pennsylvania Master Naturalist Program which trains a corps of citizen volunteers who provide education, outreach and stewardship toward the conservation of natural resources within their communities by providing service to local organizations through projects such as invasive species removal, habitat restoration, citizen science, educational materials development, public presentations and educational program support. Since 2010, volunteers engaged in 3,880 hours of conservation outreach and stewardship, contributed more than $84,000 in conservation value and impact to more than 65 partners in southeastern Pennsylvania, reached more than 6,017 people through outreach and education, improved 257 acres of habitat through stewardship service, and completed 1,281 hours of continuing education in natural sciences (also affects Bucks, Chester and Lancaster Counties).

Sullivan County—Provide funding for a day of hands-on instruction about Pennsylvania’s elk herd, shooting, archery, Native American culture, water conservation, and wildlife identification through tracks, scats and skulls for sixth grade students in East Lycoming and Sullivan County School Districts. Sponsorship of the program began in 1993 (also affects Lycoming County).

Tioga County—Provide funding for more than 100 boys and girls and their parents to learn about shooting and safety, wildlife identification, orienteering, fishing and turkey calling at the Tioga County Sportsmen for Youth Field Day (also affects Bradford and Potter Counties).

Washington County—Provide co-sponsorship and volunteer support for the Roscoe Sportsmen’s Association Youth Day where boys and girls ages eight to 16 receive hands-on outdoor skills experience in fly tying, turkey calling, firearms safety, wildlife conservation, ethics and sportsmanship as well as archery, trap, muzzleloader, pistol and rifle shooting (also affects Fayette County); provide volunteer manpower plus funding to cover the cost of materials and supplies for the 12-week Roscoe Sportsmen’s Association Junior Trap League; help offset practice fee and travel costs for members of the California Hill Gun Club competing in the state Scholastic Clay Target Program; and provide funding for the California University of Pennsylvania Sport Shooting Association which provides a setting for Cal U students to learn proper gun safety, continue to practice and compete in pistol, rifle, and shotgun disciplines while at college, and introduce first-time participants to the shooting sports.

Westmoreland County—Provide funding for a guided hunt for first-time hunters in order to engage youth in the excitement of pheasant hunting at the Kingston Veterans and Sportsmen Club Mentored Youth Pheasant Hunt.

Statewide—Provide funding for the Wildlife Leadership Academy (WLA) which empowers high school students from across the state to become ambassadors for wildlife conservation in order to ensure a sustained wildlife legacy for future generations. The WLA begins with rigorous five-day summer field schools that focus on wildlife biology, conservation, leadership skills and teamwork development lead by wildlife biologists, media professionals and educators. Over the last seven years, the program assisted more than 150 students who conducted 745 outreach projects, engaging in more than 3,300 contact hours with the public and reached an audience of greater than 15,000 people across the state; provide funding for the Wildlife Society Northeast Student Conclave which brings students in majors related to wildlife and natural resource conservation together with professionals in the field to gain hands-on experience as they learn skills through workshops and compete in an intercollegiate quiz bowl; and assist with the cost of awards given to shooters at the Scholastic Clay Target Program state competition and various regional competitions.

TFE funding is only used to further RMEF’s core mission programs of permanent land protection, habitat stewardship, elk restoration and hunting heritage. RMEF volunteers and staff along with representatives from partnering agencies and universities use science-based criteria to select conservation projects for grant funding.

RMEF volunteers and staff select hunting heritage projects to receive funding.

Partners for the Pennsylvania projects include the Pennsylvania Game Commission and various business, university, sportsmen, wildlife and civic organizations.

Since 1985, RMEF and its partners completed 341 different conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Pennsylvania with a combined value of more than $22.8 million. RMEF also made ten land acquisition purchases that opened or secured public access to 8,546 acres of Pennsylvania elk country.

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Illinois Receives RMEF Hunting Heritage Grants Thanks to Native Son

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation awarded $18,205 in funding to Illinois for a series of hunting heritage and conservation education outreach projects.

“Much of this year’s funding for these projects is directly attributed to the late Bob Torstenson, an Illinois native,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “He had a passion for elk hunting, the outdoors and especially for introducing new hunters to hunting. These grants will extend and strengthen hunting traditions to the next generation in Illinois.”

RMEF established the Torstenson Family Endowment in Bob Torstenson’s name as a result of the sale of the Torstenson Wildlife Center, a 93,403 acre ranch in west-central New Mexico gifted to the RMEF by Torstenson in 2002. Torstenson owned Duo-FAST Corporation until its sale to Illinois Toolwork in 1998. Born in Evanston, he last lived in Pecatonica.

The 2014 grants will positively affect Cook, Fulton, Henry, Jackson, Mason, Sangamon and Tazewell Counties. There are also two projects of statewide interest.

Allen also thanked RMEF volunteers in Illinois and across the nation for raising funds through banquets, membership drives and other activities to further RMEF’s mission of ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

RMEF grants will fund the following projects, listed by county:

Cook County—Provide funding from the Torstenson Family Endowment (TFE) to assist Hubbard High School in the purchase of bows, arrows and targets from the Illinois Conservation Foundation as it establishes a Junior ROTC National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP).

Fulton County—Provide funding for youth to learn how to handle firearms in a fun and safe environment with the launching of the Fulton County 4-H Shooting Sports Program.

Henry County—Provide sponsorship of the Illowa Fellowship of Christian Athletes youth shotgun team.

Jackson County—Provide sponsorship of the Sesser-Valier Outdoorsmen Club 2014 Walden Solo Camping Experience which gives junior members a weekend of self-challenge and personal introspection through solo camping and participation in a high ropes challenge course.

Mason County—Provide funding to purchase ammunition for Mason County 4-H Shooting Sports which recently began offering air rifle, archery and shotgun instruction to youth ages 8-18 years.

Sangamon County—Provide funding and RMEF volunteer efforts to instruct and introduce school age youth with the Edgewood Scholastic Trap Team to shooting sports through the Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation; and provide funding for NASP at Washington Middle School to educate archers about conservation, bowhunting, camping, canoeing, fishing, hunting and hiking.

Tazewell County—Provide funding for Tazewell County 4-H Shooting Sports which offers archery, air rifle, and shotgun courses to youth during a spring and fall session each year.

Statewide—Use TFE funding to design and furbish an education trailer containing fishing rods and reels, tents, a cook stove, microscopes, binoculars, GPS units for geocaching, a generator, lights, a TV for seminars, tanned hides, skulls and other items to be taken to schools and events statewide to help teach youth about the outdoors; and provide sponsorship of the 25th annual University of Illinois Forest Resource Center’s “Stewardship Week.” The event offers instruction to nearly 1,300 children about forestry, wildlife management, invasive plants and insects, natural heritage, fisheries, soil conservation, wetlands restoration, bird migration, tree identification and much more. RMEF sponsored the event the past 17 years.

RMEF volunteers and staff select hunting heritage projects to receive funding.

In its first year in existence in 2013, the Torstenson Family Endowment provided nearly a million dollars to accelerate mission priorities. TFE funding is only used to further RMEF’s core mission programs of permanent land protection, habitat stewardship, elk restoration and hunting heritage.

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RMEF Grant Provides $50,000 for Improved Public Access in Idaho

Press Release from Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation awarded a $50,000 grant to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) for expanding its Access Yes! program. The funding will enroll approximately 40,000 acres of land to provide access for sportsmen and women.

“Opening and securing public access is a key component of RMEF’s mission,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “This grant will allow Idaho Fish and Game to work with landowners to provide access to land that hunters would not otherwise be able to use.”

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is in a one year time frame between the expiration of a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant for access and applying for a second USDA grant.

“RMEF is stepping up and helping out so we don’t have to terminate a number of agreements with landowners during this fall hunting season,” said IDFG Director Virgil Moore. “We truly appreciate RMEF’s efforts to maintain recreational access for the citizens of Idaho.”

Access Yes! is a program designed to improve sportsmen’s access to private land or through private land to public land by compensating willing landowners that provide access. It highlights locations, the amount of acreage including available public and private land, type of wildlife, a general land description and a listing of available opportunities—hunting, fishing or trapping. As of April 29, 2014, 97 lease agreements are currently active opening 394,952 private acres and 511,555 public acres.

Funding for the Access Yes! grant came from the Torstenson Family Endowment, which is only used to further RMEF’s core mission programs of permanent land protection, habitat stewardship, elk restoration and hunting heritage.

Since 1985, RMEF and its partners completed 446 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Idaho with a combined value of more than $56.4 million that opened or secured public access to 62,002 acres.

RMEF awarded a $45,000 grant to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department AccessYes program earlier this year which will provide access to 189,000 acres of land for hunters.

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Forest Rehabilitation, Elk Nutrition Study Highlight RMEF’s 2014 Grants for Idaho

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation awarded $276,584 in funding to Idaho for a handful of wildfire restoration efforts as well as habitat enhancement projects and research focused on a declining elk population.

The 2014 grants will positively affect nearly 76,000 acres in Ada, Adams, Bingham, Blaine, Boise, Bonneville, Camas, Clearwater, Elmore, Idaho, Owyhee, Shoshone, Teton and Valley Counties. There is also one project of statewide interest.

“Wildfire decimated huge swaths of Idaho’s landscape over the past year. This funding includes more than $67,000 that will directly help rehabilitate and restore crucial forest habitat for elk and other wildlife,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “We also made a significant contribution focusing on elk populations in the Clearwater Basin where herds are struggling because of habitat issues and an increasing wolf population.”

RMEF volunteers in Idaho raised the project funding through banquets, membership drives and other activities.

“Idaho elk country is getting this shot in the arm thanks to the enthusiasm and hard work of our volunteers. Year-in and year-out, they continue to make a difference for elk and other wildlife in their own backyard,” added Allen.

Allen also thanked RMEF volunteers and members around the nation for their dedication to conservation.

RMEF grants will fund the following projects, listed by county:

Adams County—Treat 5,000 acres with prescribed fire on the Sawtooth National Forest as part of a larger multi-year effort to improve forage and habitat conditions for elk and other wildlife while also providing habitat for the threatened Northern Idaho ground squirrel that requires fire to improve and maintain its habitat.

Boise County—Place collars on up to 20 elk calves to determine if a 40 percent reduction of the wolf population in the Sawtooth Elk Zone on the Boise National Forest increased calf survival/recruitment; survey and apply treatment for noxious weeds along 103 miles of motorized trails across the Idaho City Ranger District on the Boise National Forest; and provide funding to complete the exclusion fence on the east side of Highway 21 through the Boise River Wildlife Management area that helps guide elk and mule deer to the underpass to increase public safety, reduce wildlife mortality and maintain landscape integrity (also affects Ada County).

Bingham County—Restore four non-functioning water guzzlers, expand the surface area of water catchment aprons to improve wildlife distribution and lure them away from private agricultural lands, and install livestock exclusion fences around guzzlers on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land west of Pocatello.

Bonneville County—Provide funding as part of a multi-year-year effort to improve aspen habitat on nine units in the upper basins of Fall and Bear Creeks affecting 1,500 acres eight miles southwest of Swan Valley on the Caribou National Forest; and apply burning to material previously cut and left on the ground as part of effort to remove encroaching conifers from aspen stands in important habitat for elk calving and mule deer fawning in the Teton Ranger District on the Targhee National Forest (also affects Teton County).

Camas County—Seed bluebunch wheatgrass, plant bitterbrush seedlings and treat noxious weeds to restore 975 acres of elk winter range in the Wood River Valley within the 2013 Beaver Creek Wildfire area on the Sawtooth National Forest (also affects Blaine County).

Clearwater County—Provide funding for extensive landscape and elk habitat restoration in the Clearwater Basin of north-central Idaho where elk populations continue their steadily decline over the past three decades because of a substantial loss of early-seral habitat, human pressures and the reintroduction of wolves (also affects Idaho County); and provide Torstenson Family Endowment (TFE) funding for a multi-year elk nutrition study in the Clearwater Basin that includes capturing and collaring wild elk, establishing a land use habitat matrix and applying the new Oregon-Washington elk nutrition and habitat models for a monitoring program (also affects Idaho County).

Elmore County—Provide TFE funding to plant bitterbrush seedlings across 25,000 acres of elk and mule deer habitat on BLM lands in the Pony Complex Wildfire area to enhance other post-fire rehabilitation treatments completed in the area; and hand-plant bitterbrush and sagebrush on 10,000 acres, hand-plant riparian vegetation along the South Fork Boise River and tributaries, and aerially seed 6,000-10,000 acres as part of continuing effort to rehabilitate Boise National Forest lands following the 2013 Pony and Elk Complex wildfires.

Idaho County—Provide TFE funding to burn approximately 18,000 acres in the Clearwater Basin on 10-units consisting of elk crucial winter and summer range on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest as part of an ongoing effort to improve elk habitat (also affects Clearwater County).

Owyhee County—Slash and girdle juniper on 921 acres in the Pole Creek area in preparation for future prescribed burning on BLM land located a few miles from the 2007 Crutcher Complex Wildfire as part of a 10-15 year project to restore and maintain shrub steppe and aspen communities; and hand-plant 14,000 bitterbrush seedlings on 700 acres in the Jarbidge Foothills on BLM land that burned in the 2007 Murphy Complex wildfire.

Shoshone County—Aerially ignite 1,200 acres to improve big game forage, stand conditions and reduce natural fuels on elk summer range within the Heller Creek and Wisdom Creek drainages on the Idaho Panhandle National Forest as part of a larger project to treat 3,750 acres with prescribed fire resulting in up to 21 percent of the project area becoming forage openings; and apply prescribed burning to 1,500 acres in the Lost Creek area of the Coeur d’Alene Mountains as part of a 5-10 year habitat enhancement project on the Idaho Panhandle National Forest.

Valley County—Provide funding for Idaho Youth Outdoors’ youth ice fishing day to get kids outdoors and introduce them to the sport.

Statewide—Provide funding for the Idaho Sportsmen’s Caucus Advisory Council, an association of approximately 30 hunting, fishing and trapping organizations across Idaho, that reviews issues such as Chronic Wasting Disease, game farms, habitat challenges, fishing and hunting access, and big game tag availability with the Idaho Legislature, the Department of Fish and Game and sportsmen and women.

Conservation projects are selected for grants using science-based criteria and a committee of RMEF volunteers and staff along with representatives from partnering agencies and universities. RMEF volunteers and staff select hunting heritage projects to receive funding.

Partners for the Idaho projects include the Boise, Caribou-Targhee, Idaho Panhandle, Nez Perce-Clearwater, Payette and Sawtooth National Forests; Bureau of Land Management; Idaho Department of Fish and Game and various sportsmen, wildlife, civic and government organizations.

Since 1985, RMEF and its partners completed 446 different conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Idaho with a combined value of more than $56.4 million that also opened or secured public access to more than 22,000 acres.

Torstenson Family Endowment funding is only used to further RMEF’s core mission programs of permanent land protection, habitat stewardship, elk restoration and hunting heritage.

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Montana Accepts RMEF Grant to Assist with Wolf Management

MISSOULA, Mont.—Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) accepted a $25,000 grant from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to assist its wolf management plan.

“RMEF staunchly supports the science-based state management of wolves and other predators,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “This grant will put more collars on more wolves so Montana’s wildlife managers have more relevant data on Montana’s wolf population. We are far over objective on wolf numbers and the more specific data we have the better we can manage the population downward.”

“We very much appreciate the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s continuing support of science-based wildlife management. RMEF has been a great friend of wildlife and a valuable partner with our agency,” said Jeff Hagener, FWP director. “With budget constraints and the need to address many challenging issues, this grant is especially appreciated as it will enhance the information we have available to manage wolves and find the proper balance between wolves, other wildlife, hunting opportunities and landowner tolerance.”

The funding will be applied to FWP’s new Patch Occupancy Modeling approach to estimate a more accurate wolf population. More specifically, it’s a three step process based on hunter observations, estimating the number of packs from mean territory size(s) and estimating abundance using mean pack size. The primary weakness in the approach is the estimate of mean territory size which is where the addition of new GPS radio collars comes into play. They will be deployed on wolves during the 2014 trapping season to obtain location data in order to estimate mean territory size(s), report precise locations and then be released at desired times of the year so staff can retrieve them and unload data before again returning them to the field.

Montana reported a 2013 minimum wolf count of 627 while also stating that in reality the population is actually 25 to 35 percent higher. That would place the 2013 actual on-the-ground count somewhere between 743 to 846 wolves.

“The bottom line is you can’t have true effective wolf management if you don’t know how many wolves are really out there and where they live. This grant funding will help to better determine that,” added Allen.

In keeping with the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, RMEF supports state-regulated hunting and trapping as the preferred tools of wolf management. RMEF also remains committed to learning more about wolves and their effect on elk and other prey through research efforts. In the last two-plus years alone, RMEF awarded more than $240,000 in grants specifically for wolf management.

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RMEF Grants to Improve Utah Elk Habitat

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation awarded grants to fund more than 50 on-the-ground projects that will enhance habitat for elk and other wildlife around the state of Utah.

The grants, awarded in 2013, total $156,300 and will directly benefit Beaver, Cache, Carbon, Daggett, Duchesne, Emery, Garfield, Grand, Kane, Millard, Piute, San Juan, Sanpete, Sevier, Summit, Tooele, Uintah, and Wayne counties. Four other projects have statewide benefits.

“Pinyon pine trees and juniper shrubs have a tendency to choke out forage that is vital for elk, mule deer and other wildlife. This funding will allow for thinning, removal and seeding projects to do the work that Mother Nature is not,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “Funding will also help restore aspen stands and refurbish water supplies in an area of the country that often lacks water.”

Allen also thanked dedicated RMEF volunteers in Utah who conducted fundraising projects at their banquets, through membership drives and other events to generate the funding. He also thanked volunteers and members around the nation for their dedication to conservation.

“Our volunteers make the RMEF motor run. We thank them for their passion and dedication to elk and elk country,” added Allen.

RMEF grants will help fund the following 2013 projects, listed by county:

Beaver County— Remove encroaching pinyon-juniper on about 1,000 acres on the Southwest Desert to increase vegetative diversity on sage-brush steppe habitat; and replace existing small capacity water guzzler with new 10,200-gallon big game guzzler at the south end of Antelope Valley west of Milford.

Cache County—Treat 4,850 acres with prescribed fire to restore and maintain aspen on Cache National Forest lands south of the Temple Fork of the Logan River and north of Left Hand Fork of the Blacksmith Fork Canyon; treat 1,500 acres with prescribed fire to restore and maintain aspen in the Curtis Ridge area; and treat 1,960 acres of juniper in Cache Valley to improve declining mule deer winter habitat followed by seeding of a sagebrush/forb/grass mix to enhance disturbed areas.

Carbon County—Treat 395 acres of pinyon-juniper woodlands to reduce vegetative fuels and restore sagebrush and grassland-steppe habitat on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands in portions of the Fish Creek and Dugout Creek drainages on the toe-slopes of the Book Cliffs near Price; and create small clearcuts within aspen stands to regenerate aspen on 69 acres on the Cold Springs Wildlife Management Area and 65 acres of adjacent private land.

Daggett County—Remove encroaching pinyon-juniper on 856 acres of summer range along Crouse Creek in the Marshall Draw Wildlife Management Area and in Mail Draw and Warren Draw on Diamond Mountain. The project will also benefit Colorado cutthroat trout and sage grouse brood rearing and nesting habitat; and the removal and replacement of two old guzzlers (Lightning Point and The Thumb) with two new ones using a new design that is more bighorn sheep-friendly.

Duchesne County—Remove pinyon-juniper encroachment on 400 acres of sagebrush habitat to improve winter range for elk, deer and sage grouse at the top of Gate Canyon about 45 miles southwest of Myton. The project will also create fuel breaks to prevent unplanned wildfires from removing large amounts of sagebrush; remove pinyon-juniper on 2,200 acres previously chained in 2006-2008 on the Tabby Mountain Wildlife Management Area and adjacent private land near Tabiona; lop and scatter encroaching pinyon, juniper and Douglas fir trees on 720 acres of sagebrush and mountain brush communities on Jeep Trail and Nutters Ridge areas of Anthro Mountain southeast of Duchesne to improve wildlife habitat; and the application of herbicide to improve 113 acres of mainly abandoned agricultural lands in Sowers Canyon along with drill seeding of more acres; scalp and drill seed 160 acres of winter range and sage grouse brood rearing habitat along the southern border of Tabby Mountain Wildlife Management Area.

Emery County—Remove encroaching pinyon-juniper on 1,393 acres using a combination of hand and mechanical treatments, with some seeding, in sagebrush communities north of Huntington Canyon that supports elk, mule deer, black-tailed rabbit and high density of golden eagles. Some of the funding comes from nearby oil and gas development to mitigate habitat loss and fragmentation; and remove pinyon-juniper from 460 acres of sagebrush habitat and apply seeding where understory is lacking.

Garfield County—Implement prescribed burning on 181 acres of pinyon-juniper slash piles and apply 587 acres of lop and scatter treatments in Deep Creek, Pine Creek and surrounding uplands to help increase the cover and density of grasses, forbs and shrubs and improve habitat for elk, mule deer, turkey, Greater sage-grouse and Bonneville cutthroat trout; lop and scatter, chain harrow and seed approximately 92 acres of pinyon-juniper dominated habitat on the Panguitch Creek Wildlife Management Area; apply seed and then mechanically mulch encroaching pinyon-juniper in a mosaic pattern to improve 1,485 acres of winter range and sage grouse brooding habitat immediately south of Panguitch; and remove two old underground storage tanks that no longer hold water and replace them with a new 1,500-gallon thick-walled poly tank to provide water for the Mt. Dutton elk herd and other wildlife in the Marshall Basin.

Grand County—Remove encroaching pinyon-juniper from Wyoming sagebrush communities on 500 acres in the South Book Cliffs at the mouth of Thompson and Sego Canyons and apply seeding where necessary.

Kane County—Continuation of a project started in 2012 to restore sagebrush habitat with removal of pinyon-juniper in the Upper Kanab Creek Watershed by treating 959 acres with a bullhog and utilizing a chain harrow within 286 acres of sage grouse winter range followed by aerially seeding; and return 959-acre area to early seral stage by removing pinyon-juniper and seeding to improve elk and mule deer habitat and reduce erosion in the middle portions of the Upper Kanab Creek Watershed and within the Thompson Creek drainage.

Millard County— Aerially seed 187 acres and then remove encroaching pinyon juniper in a mosaic pattern to restore sagebrush-steppe habitat on the Pioneeer Wildlife Management Area near Holden.

Piute County—Treat 90 percent of pinyon-juniper from 756 acres following seed application on elk and mule deer winter range five miles south of Greenwich plus an additional 244 acres of pinyon-juniper with seed application between chaining passes. Fuels reduction will benefit the communities of Angle, Antimony, Burrville, Greenwich, Koosharem and Little Meadows. (includes Sevier and Wayne Counties); and treat approximately 460 acres of pinyon-juniper encroachment and apply aerially seeding to increase vegetative diversity and decrease risk of catastrophic wildfire in the Horse Valley area south of Circleville.

San Juan County—Implement a combination of mechanical and hand cutting treatments on 637 acres to reduce pinyon-juniper encroachment and restore sagebrush meadows on Black Ridge Mesa 10 miles south of Moab; and prescribe burn 3,250 acres of aspen, mixed conifer and ponderosa pine forest to stimulate aspen regeneration on the southwest side of the La Sal Mountains 20 miles southeast of Moab.

Sanpete County—Install one 1,500-gallon subsurface tank guzzler in the Hayes Canyon area at the north end of Japanesse Valley seven miles west of Fayette in the Valley Mountains to provide a water supply for elk and deer along with a wildlife-friendly fence around it; lop and scatter encroaching pinyon and juniper on 140 acres of elk and deer winter range within the Little Valley five miles west of Fayette; install two 1,500-gallon guzzlers and treat 850 acres of winter range west of Manti; treatment to reduce pinyon-juniper on 285 acres of elk and mule deer winter range followed by aerial seeding on private lands along the west slope of the Wasatch plateau; remove pinyon-juniper from 1,021 acres of BLM and private land winter range protected with a conservation easement two miles north of Fairview; and remove pinyon-juniper on 519 acres of transitional range on Manti National Forest lands bordered by the Reeder, Sportsman’s and Swasey subdivisions (also affects Emery County).

Sevier County— Install a wildlife guzzler surrounded by wildlife-friendly fencing on the northwest portion of Triangle Mountain, where previous mechanical and seeding treatments resulted in productive forage, in an effort to keep elk and deer away from traffic on I-70 and agricultural lands near Salina; and restore 1,100 acres of elk and deer winter range along the east slope of the Pahvant Range by mechanically removing pinyon-juniper to stimulate existing browse.

Summit County—Thin encroaching juniper on 550 acres to regenerate browse and forb species; and lop and scatter approximately 290 acres of mixed conifer encroachment to regenerate browse and forb species, including aspen habitat, on critical winter range for elk, bighorn sheep and deer in the Hoop Lake area.

Tooele County—Remove up to 80 percent of existing juniper followed by seeding on 680 acres to improve sagebrush habitat on the western foothills of the Oquirrh Mountains six miles southeast of Stockton; and implement the fourth phase of a project to improve 485 acres of sagebrush habitat on the western foothills of the Oquirrh Mountains by removing cheatgrass followed by the application of herbicide and drill seeding to increase perennial grasses, forbs and sagebrush.

Unitah County—Remove encroaching pinyon and juniper trees from sagebrush habitat to improve 520 acres on Little Mountain between Vernal and Lapoin; remove pinyon-juniper trees on 470 acres of elk and mule deer winter range on Park Ridge in the Book Cliffs previously treated in 2010; treat 605 acres of pinyon-juniper to improve 605 acres of crucial elk and mule deer winter range and Greater sage-grouse nesting and rearing brood habitat on Little Mountain; remove encroaching pinyon-juniper from about 355 acres of sagebrush habitat in the Atchee Ridge area of the Book Cliffs; remove encroaching pinyon-juniper on 534 acres on Monument Ridge in the Book Cliffs; improve sagebrush habitat by removing encroaching pinyon-juniper across 634 acres in the Indian Springs Ridge area of the Book Cliffs; improve aspen stand condition along the Bookcliff Divide in the upper portion of the Book Cliffs by constructing exclosures around seven aspen stands to deter browsing on regenerating sprouts; build seven water guzzlers, each consisting of a 250-gallon buried tank and a 40′ x 20′ metal catchment apron, in the eastern portion of the Book Cliffs; and measure and quantify the overall health and condition of aspen stands in the western portion of the Book Cliffs and compare the findings with a similar data collection completed in 2012 on aspen stands in the eastern portion.

Wayne County—Create new and improve old fences, combined with water distribution to enable the Richfield Ranger District to give ample rest to pastures on three allotments in the central portion of Monroe Mountain that are planned for future habitat improvement projects.

Southern Utah— Utilize hand-seeders and Conservation Corps to seed browse species such as bitterbrush, four-wing saltbush, chokecherry, and serviceberry on elk and mule deer habitat that burned in 2012 wildfires.

Statewide—Provide funding for project to characterize ungulate impacts on aspen forests and quantify the relationships between disturbance size, aspen abundance, and ecological conditions on aspen regeneration success in areas with high ungulate use; and provide funding for an additional year of work to facilitate continued analysis of vast photo database, further work with quail, and website development as part of a project to improve the effectiveness of wildlife water developments.

Conservation projects are selected for grants using science-based criteria and a committee of RMEF volunteers and staff along with representatives from partnering agencies and universities. RMEF volunteers and staff select hunting heritage projects to receive funding.

Partners for the Utah projects include the Ashley, Dixie, Fishlake, La Sal, Manti, and Unita-Wasatch-Cache National Forests, Bureau of Land Management, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Utah Department of Natural Resources, local businesses, universities, private landowners, and various sportsmen, wildlife, civic and government organizations.

Since 1987, RMEF and its partners completed 411 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Utah with a combined value of more than $45 million that enhanced or protected more than 997,000 acres and opened or secured public access to 27,192 acres.

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Wisconsin’s Elk Country, Hunting Heritage Get Lift from RMEF Grants

MISSOULA, Mont.–Grants provided by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will fund projects designed to expand elk range, increase forage, improve elk management, monitor elk calf recruitment and provide sponsorship of multiple hunting heritage programs and events benefitting 28 different counties in Wisconsin.

The grants total $65,940 and positively affect these counties: Adams, Ashland, Barron, Bayfield, Burnett, Chippewa, Clark, Columbia, Dodge, Jackson, Juneau, Kenosha, La Crosse, Lincoln, Marathon, Monroe, Oneida, Pierce, Price, Racine, Rusk, Sauk, Sawyer, St. Croix, Washburn, Waupaca, Winnebago, and Wood. There are also several statewide projects.

“Wisconsin reintroduced elk 18 years ago but the animals have only expanded 10 percent beyond their initial territory,” said Blake Henning, RMEF vice president of Lands and Conservation. “These grants will improve forage on the Clam Lake Elk Range and also assist with the translocation of elk to other areas within the 1,600 mile range.”

Since 1985, RMEF and its partners completed 249 different conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Wisconsin with a combined value of more than $6.3 million.

“It’s important to understand that the funds generated for these projects come from our hard working volunteers in Wisconsin. They raise money through banquet fundraising and membership drives,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “They are making a difference in enhancing the future of elk and elk habitat in their own state. To them we say ‘Thank you!’”

Allen also thanked RMEF chapters and volunteers around the nation for their dedication to conservation all across elk country.

RMEF grants will help fund the following 2013 projects, listed by county:

Ashland County—Improve elk forage habitat on 741 acres of the Chequamegon National Forest within the Clam Lake Elk Range via mowing, hand clearing and aspen regeneration projects (also affects Sawyer County); train high school students to monitor the “Butternut” elk subgroup by using radio telemetry equipment and collecting data for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources as a cost effective effort to support Wisconsin’s elk management efforts; provide funding and volunteers for annual effort to find, collar, and take measurements of calves to better monitor the health and size of the elk population; and provide funding to pay for electricity fees to run the kiosk at the Clam Lake Elk Visitor Center.

Barron County—Provide funding to help introduce the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) through summer school with a goal to infuse it into the Rice Lake Area School District’s Physical Education curriculum.

Burnett County—Provide funding and volunteer effort from RMEF Lake Country Chapter to assist with shooting, archery, fishing, orienteering, pack mules and other demonstrations at the annual Coyland Creek Youth in the Outdoors Day.

Chippewa County—Co-sponsor firearms safety and shooting instruction at Women on Target clinic at the Bloomer Rod and Gun Club.

Dodge County—Provide funding to purchase start-up equipment for NASP at Horicon High School and Mayville High School.

Dunn County—Co-sponsor firearms safety and shooting instruction at Women on Target clinic at the Menomonie Rifle and Pistol Club.

Kenosha County—Provide funding for the Central Falcons trap and skeet team to participate in the Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) of the Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation and the Southeastern Wisconsin Youth SCTP Trap Shooting Conference; and provide funding to help purchase more equipment for the archery program at Trevor-Wilmot Grade School.

Marathon County—Provide funding to assist instructors with the Weston Hunter Safety program for bow and rifle (also affects Lincoln and Wood Counties); and provide funding to foster a greater appreciation for and understanding of hunting, fishing and trapping, for youth and adults at Marathon County Sporting Heritage Youth Day (also affects Lincoln and Wood Counties).

Monroe County—Provide funding for the Camp Douglas Sportsman’s Club Youth Trap Shooting League which offers youth age 10-17 the opportunity to learn how to handle a firearm safely and in a controlled environment (also affects Juneau, Jackson and Wood Counties); and provide funding for ammunition, transportation and program promotion of the Tomah Warrens Shooting Alliance, a shooting clay club for youth that qualified for nationals in its first year of existence.

Oneida County—Provide funding for the Rhinelander Youth Outdoor Heritage Day which encourages youth to pursue hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities.

Pierce County—Provide funding to pay for targets and pellets at the Second Annual Pierce County 4-H Shooting Sports Western Gateway Shoot, a national qualifying event that drew members from across the state and featured competitions in archery, air rifle, air pistol, .22 rifle, .22 pistol, shot gun and wildlife ecology (also affected St. Croix County and statewide interests).

Racine County—Provide funds to pay for supplies for students ranging in grades 4-12 in the Burlington Area School District to participate in the SCTP and the Southeastern Wisconsin SCTP Trap Shooting Conference.

Sauk County—Provide funding to help purchase NASP equipment for the Wisconsin Dells Parks and Recreation Archery Program (also affects Juneau, Columbia and Adams Counties).

Saywer County—Improve 618 acres of northern Wisconsin elk habitat by implementing prescribed burns and mowing within the state’s expanded elk range with a goal to restore double digit annual elk population growth, and improve habitat for wild turkeys, sharptailed grouse, woodcock, ruffed grouse, black bear, white-tailed deer and other wildlife (also affects Price and Rusk Counties); assist with translocation of 12 to 20 elk per year for the next three winters to spur population growth and range throughout the state’s 1,600-square-mile elk zone (also affects Ashland, Bayfield, Price and Rusk Counties); and provide funding for Hayward Outdoor Youth Day which provides youth an opportunity to learn about archery, fishing, outdoor cooking, plant identification, dog training, BB gun shooting and trapping.

Statewide—Provide funding for annual Wisconsin Outdoor Education Expo, a free event that includes hands-on activities for 4th and 5th graders to learn about archery, fishing, sporting dog events and firearms safety in order to foster a better appreciation for wildlife and wild places; and help cover the cost of printing the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources hunting regulations manual.

Washburn County—Provide funding to help purchase a NASP start-up kit for Spooner Middle School.

Waupaca County—Provide funding for purchasing start-up NASP equipment at Clintonville School District.

Winnebago County—Provide funding to assist with upgrades to the parking lot, path, shooting line, berms, targets, sheds, arrow quivers, bow hangers and other site amenities at the Neenah Parks & Recreation Outdoor Archery Range.

Wood County—Provide funding for RMEF Yellow River Basin Chapter to attend the Lindsay Youth Fair and assist with helping youth foster an appreciation for elk, elk biology, conservation and outdoor activities such as animal displays, fishing, shooting, and hunter safety instruction; and provide funding for approximately 105 boys and girls age 8-9 enrolled in the Central Wisconsin 4-H Shooting Sports program which offers training in air pistol, air rifle, archery and wildlife ecology (also affects Clark and Marathon Counties).

Conservation projects are selected for grants using science-based criteria and a committee of RMEF volunteers and staff along with representatives from partnering agencies. RMEF staff and volunteers select education projects to receive grants. RMEF volunteers and staff select hunting heritage projects to be funded.

Partners for 2013 Wisconsin projects include the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Chequamegon National Forest, RMEF volunteers and other government, state, wildlife, business and volunteer organizations.

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RMEF’s $140,000 Gift Opens Door to 18,000 Acres of Public Access

MISSOULA, Mont.–A 40-acre acquisition by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will improve access to nearly 18,000 acres of National Forest public lands in central Montana for hunting and other recreational enjoyment.

“This strikes at the heart of what RMEF is all about,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “We are committed to opening more land for hunting and other year-round recreational public access and now the gate is open for hunters to more easily access thousands of acres of elk country previously almost impossible to reach.”

Recently acquired by RMEF, the property contains a 30-foot common boundary with a corner piece of the Lewis and Clark National Forest (LCNF), best known as home of the Big and Little Snowy Mountains. The transaction is a cooperative effort between the RMEF, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the LCNF, and willing landowners Marshall and Leslie Long.

RMEF purchased the land for $190,000 and will offer it to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks for $50,000, in effect donating the remaining balance of $140,000 to FWP. To complete the land transfer, FWP will launch a public environmental analysis to get the land acquisition approved by the FWP Commission and the Montana Land Board.

RMEF and its partners signed an agreement that sets the stage for the FWP to provide an entrance, parking area, signage and a defined access trail into the forest. The goal is to have the improvements in place by October 26, opening day of the 2013 general big game rifle season.

“This small but critical piece of land offers both big game habitat and exceptional access to public land that supports a prized elk population,” said Gary Bertellotti, FWP Region 4 supervisor. “FWP wants to thank the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for its efforts to secure the Red Hill property and partnering with FWP to provide access to elk and National Forest public lands for future generations.”

“This is a big win for hunters and other members of the public because there was realistically no easy way to reach this part of the Snowys. This public access will allow hunters to play a more active part with management of an elk herd that is over objective.” added Allen.

Aerial surveys conducted by FWP this past February revealed a population count of approximately 4,000 elk in the Big and Little Snowy Mountains with a calf to cow ratio of 30:100.

The transaction conserves a diverse mixture of aspen and forest, grasslands, meadows, wetlands, and a spring and intermittent stream; and provides important habitat for elk, mule deer, whitetail deer, black bear, grouse and a vast array of other wildlife.

Funding for the project came from the Torstenson Family Endowment which is used solely to further RMEF’s core mission programs of permanent land protection, habitat stewardship, elk restoration and hunting heritage.

To date, RMEF projects opened or improved access to approximately 668,000 acres of elk country across the nation.

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