February 6, 2023

Elk Habitat Conserved in Washington’s Lewis River Watershed

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—Nearly 4,500 acres of prime wildlife habitat in southwestern Washington are permanently protected and opened to public access thanks to ongoing collaborative efforts by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and PacifiCorp, an electric utility company.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “This forestland is crucial habitat for Roosevelt elk. It’s now forever protected and conserved in a region where designation of the Mount St. Helens National Monument restricts management options.”

“Conserving and managing this habitat on the southwest slopes of Mount St. Helens, where elk are threatened by forage loss from forest succession and habitat loss to development is a just part of PacifiCorp’s ongoing commitment to environmental stewardship,” said Todd Olson, the company’s compliance director. “We highly value the partnership with the RMEF and the other parties that makes this possible.”

The just-completed 1,880-acre acquisition is the third phase of a project that previously protected an additional 2,590 acres of habitat in the upper Lewis River basin north of Swift Reservoir.

The combined 4,470-acre property was originally in a checkerboard ownership pattern. It is now blocked up and provides connectivity with state and federal lands to the north and is part of a 15,000-acre landscape managed as wildlife habitat by PacifiCorp. This management is conducted with input from RMEF, the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and resource agencies.

“Federal forests near Mount St. Helens are overgrown and contributed to the decline of what was once one of Washington’s most productive elk herds. This project greatly improves forest management which is a huge benefit for elk and other wildlife,” added Henning.

The landscape provides vital elk migratory corridors and is home to blacktail deer, black bear, mountain lions and a wide array of bird and other animal life.

With few exceptions to provide public safety, PacifiCorp wildlife lands are open to non-motorized public access including hunting and other recreation.


RMEF Salutes Backers of Access Elk Country

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation wants to recognize and show appreciation for its 2014 Access Elk Country initiative charter sponsors Sitka, Sportsman’s Guide, Kimber and Bushnell.

“Opening and securing public access is a key component of RMEF’s mission,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “Hunters need a place to hunt and our conservation partners assist us in efforts to create, maintain and improve access.”

Since 1984, RMEF has opened, secured or improved public access to more than 758,000 acres of elk habitat in 21 states.

2014 Highlights:

?• Road easements secured permanent public access to 41,000 acres in southwest Montana

?• Protected and secured access to 2,893 acres of elk habitat in south-central Washington

?• $50,000 grant opened access to approximately 40,000 acres of land in Idaho

?• $45,000 grant opened access to about 180,000 acres of land in Wyoming

?• Protected and secured access to 988 acres in south-central Montana

?• Protected and secured access to 81 acres of Pennsylvania elk country

?• Protected and opened access to 4,010 acres in central Washington

“There is perhaps no greater threat to the future of wildlife and our hunting heritage in North America than the loss of access to places that provide quality hunting experiences for today’s hunter as well as those of the next generation,” said Steve Decker, RMEF vice president of Marketing. “RMEF’s Access Elk Country program sponsors are helping us meet this challenge head-on by creating new and improved access to some of the best of elk country. We can’t thank them enough for their continued commitment to RMEF and our mission.”


RMEF Allocates $3.5 Million for Habitat Stewardship, Hunting Heritage

MISSOULA, Mont.—In addition to work in permanent land protection, public access and elk restoration, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation allocated more than $3.5 million so far in 2014 for habitat stewardship and hunting heritage projects across the United States.

The total includes more than $3.1 million specifically directed for elk habitat, research, elk restoration and wildlife-related conservation projects in 27 states with wild, free-ranging elk populations. Additional funding is allotted for hunting heritage programs in 49 states.

Banquet-based membership and fundraising activities by local RMEF chapters generated the funding that state volunteers and staff will direct into various on-the-ground projects and programs.

“What can you say about our volunteers who number more than 10,000 strong?” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “It’s thanks to their hard work, passion and dedication that we have this funding to turn around and put back on the ground in their own backyards which will enhance the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.”

“This allocation of funds has and will fund Project Advisory Committee projects, state grants, and a portion of the Virginia and Missouri elk restoration projects,” said Blake Henning, RMEF vice president of Lands and Conservation. “Individual states also designated some of the funds to our national programs and initiatives.”

Habitat projects are selected for RMEF grants using science-based criteria and a committee of RMEF volunteers and staff along with representatives from partnering agencies and universities from their respective states. Project examples include prescribed burning, forest thinning and management, noxious weed treatments, water improvements and other habitat enhancement work carried out mostly on public lands. Also included are research projects to better understand and improve management of elk, habitat, predators and other factors that influence conservation.

Hunting heritage projects are selected by RMEF staff and volunteers in their individual states and are based on the ability to provide education about habitat conservation, the value of hunting, hunting ethics and wildlife management, and reaching out to youth.

RMEF will also distribute funding received through donations, partnerships with conservation-minded partners, grants and other means to its national core programs of habitat stewardship, land protection, elk restoration and hunting heritage.


Key Elk Habitat Conserved, Open to Public Access in California

MISSOULA, Mont.–A stretch of crucial habitat for Tule elk in California is now protected and in public ownership thanks to a collaborative effort by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners.

“This is a big win for elk, elk country, and the people in west-central California,” said Blake Henning, RMEF vice president of Lands and Conservation. “This property belonged to a family for more than 100 years. It faced a very real possibility of development but thanks to the work of our dedicated partners it’s now protected and in the hands of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.”

“The Wildlife Conservation Board is appreciative of the RMEF’s partnership in securing the San Antonio Valley property,” said John Donnelly, executive director of the California Wildlife Conservation Board. “Situated in the Mt. Hamilton Range of California, the property is extremely
valuable in terms of plant and animal diversity and offers stability in protecting a critical wildlife corridor for elk, mountain lions and other animals. We are proud to have been a partner, along with the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the RMEF in securing this important property for future generations.”

The transaction adds 339 acres to a previously acquired 2,750 acre tract of land in the San Antonio Valley located east of San Jose that butts up to Henry Coe State Park. The property was historically home to cattle ranches. It sits approximately 2,000-2,300 feet in elevation and consists primarily of grassland, wildflowers, and some forbs with scattered oaks, grey pines and dense brush. There is also plentiful riparian habitat with a pond and a seasonal creek on the property, and three ponds on the previously acquired land that provide a year-round water supply for wildlife.

“Tule elk are not the only species that thrives here. The property also caters to black tail deer, quail, turkey, mountain lion, and a variety of migratory birds and raptors,” added Henning. “It’s also a popular destination for people from the Bay Area and valley to watch wildlife and enjoy spring wildflowers.”

Partners in the project include a private landowner, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California Wildlife Conservation Board, California Deer Association, Santa Clara County Open Space, and The Nature Conservancy.

Work continues on a possible third phase of the project to try to protect and open more land in the same area.