November 18, 2018

Wildlife, Riparian Habitat Protected, Access Improved in Oregon

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—The largest private inholding in Oregon’s most popular and biggest wilderness area is now in public hands and open to public access thanks to a collaborative effort between the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the U.S. Forest Service.

The project permanently protects 471 acres adjacent to the Eagle Cap Wilderness in northeast Oregon and improves access to nearly 23,000 additional acres of surrounding public land.

“This area contains vital habitat for elk and a myriad of other wildlife and fish species,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer.

Located southwest of the town of Joseph and directly west of Wallowa Lake, the narrow property runs approximately two miles in length. It serves as an important elk transition area as it lies between elk summer range in the high country and winter range in the lowlands. Mule deer, white-tailed deer, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats are also present within the surrounding area.

Additionally, Little Granite Creek and Falls Creek, two major tributaries to Hurricane Creek, cross the property. Spring Chinook salmon use the waterways for spawning. The creeks also provide crucial riparian habitat for other wildlife.

“In addition to improving public access for hunters, this project also ensures unimpeded access to Hurricane Creek and Falls Creek Trails, two of the most popular trails that provide access to the Eagle Cap Wilderness, including access to Legore Lake, said to be the highest true lake in Oregon at 8,950 feet in elevation,” added Henning.

RMEF conveyed the 471 acres to the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest which now oversees its management.

Vital funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund helped complete the project.

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A Third Try at Caribou Restoration?

Should Maine consider a third attempt at restoring caribou? Some think maybe.

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Help on the Way for Elk Habitat, Research in Washington

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—From prescribed burning and noxious weed treatments to forest restoration, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation awarded grants that will fund 15 conservation projects benefitting 8,760 acres of vital elk habitat in Washington.

The grants total $212,692 and directly impact 8,760 acres across Asotin, Chelan, Columbia, Cowlitz, Garfield, Kittitas, Klickitat, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Skamania, Stevens and Yakima Counties.

“These projects will help improve elk habitat in areas where encroaching weeds and forest overgrowth have a detrimental effect on wildlife,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “We are also providing funds for research regarding forage availability for elk and other wildlife near Mount St. Helens.”

Allen thanked RMEF volunteers for their hard work and dedication in raising funds for projects in Washington. He also thanked volunteers around the country for seeking to further RMEF’s mission of ensuring the future of elk and elk country.

Since 1985, RMEF and its partners have completed 551 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Washington with a combined value of more than $112.3 million. These projects have protected or enhanced 453,854 acres of habitat and have opened or secured public access to 118,756 acres.

Here is a sampling of Washington’s 2015 projects, listed by county:

Garfield County—Burn 2,685 acres within the broader Asotin Creek Prescribed Fire Project area to restore native grasslands and improve wildlife forage. To ensure the establishment of native grasses, 435 acres will be aerially seeded after the burn on a landscape that is a summer, winter and calving area for elk as well as bighorn sheep range.

Skamania County—Provide funding for continuing research to address the interaction of forage availability and nutritional quality on the elk population within the Mt. St. Helens eruption blast zone on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest compared to state and federal land outside the zone. The results provide a foundation for evaluating forest management, predicting future habitat condition trends and a basis for elk population management in the area.

Yakima County—Seed 820 acres with grasses, forbes and sagebrush to restore habitat for elk and other wildlife within the Cottonwood 2 Wildfire area that burned nearly 9,000 acres of winter range in 2014 (also affects Kittitas County).

For a complete list of Washington’s projects, go here.

Partners for the Washington projects include the Colville, Gifford Pinchot and Umatilla National Forests, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, private landowners and various sportsmen, wildlife, civic, and government organizations.

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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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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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Kentucky Biologist Honored for Work in Eastern Elk Restoration

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation recently recognized Dr. Tina Brunjes for her leadership and long-standing commitment to Kentucky’s elk restoration efforts.

“Dr. Brunjes has been and remains a strong advocate for elk on their native range in the eastern part of the United States,” said Blake Henning, RMEF vice president of Lands and Conservation. “Not only was she very active and supportive of elk restoration in Kentucky, but she offered her expertise to other eastern states that also reestablished elk herds.”

Brunjes was the deer and elk program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources where she was responsible for all aspects of deer and elk management statewide. She worked there for eight and a half years.

Brunjes received the award at the 19th Annual Eastern Elk Management Workshop that took place April 27-30 in Breaks, Va.

“Just two decades ago, there were no elk in Kentucky but the estimated population of today’s herd is more than 10,000. That is a credit to a cooperative effort between Dr. Brunjes, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife and the RMEF,” added Henning.

To date, RMEF contributed $1.4 million to assist with Kentucky’s elk restoration program. The state held its first elk hunt in 150 years in 2001 and now boasts the largest wild elk herd east of the Rocky Mountains.

Kentucky provided elk as a source herd for successful reintroduction efforts in Missouri and Virginia. Elk from Kentucky also since crossed the border into West Virginia where a wild herd numbering approximately 60 now live.

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RMEF to Fund Conservation Projects in 12 Oregon Counties

MISSOULA, Mont.–Improving forage quality and quantity for elk and other wildlife is the focus of 2013 grants from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for the state of Oregon. The grants total $215,790 and directly affect Benton, Douglas, Klamath, Lake, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Tillamook, Union, Wallowa, Wasco and Yamhill Counties. RMEF is also funding a hunting heritage project of statewide interest.

“These projects cover a wide spectrum of actions that will enhance habitat across Oregon’s elk country,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “Forest thinning, prescribe burns, seeding and planting native grasses, noxious weed treatments, and restoring aspens will positively affect nearly 4,200 acres.”

Since 1985, RMEF and its partners completed 724 different conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Oregon with a combined value of more than $43.6 million.

“The funds for these projects are a testament to the passion and dedication of our RMEF volunteers in Oregon. They raise money through their membership drives and banquet fundraising, which stays on the ground in their home state. To them we say, ‘Thank you!'” said Allen.

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:

Douglas County–Burn 200 acres to reduce understory tree density in the Coffin Butte area on the Umpqua National Forest and create 12 new acres of forage openings in the Diamond Lake Ranger District to address declining Roosevelt elk populations.

Klamath County–Thin 205 acres and burn 1,100 acres of previously thinned acreage as part of a five-year project to enhance habitat for elk and other wildlife in the Fremont-Winema National Forest (FWNF); remove lodgepole pine on 90 acres and plant 5 acres of hardwoods to restore meadows on the Deschutes National Forest; remove small trees and burn 79 acres to promote native grass and forbs in a Roosevelt elk calving area south of Crater Lake National Park.

Lake County–Thin conifers and junipers from 158 acres in the Drews Creek watershed on the FWNF as part of a five-year plan to restore aspen stands and improve elk forage and calving habitat; and thin 198 acres of aspen stands and meadow habitat in the Upper Scyan Watershed on the FWNF (also affects Klamath County).

Lane County–Carry out prescribe burning, noxious weed treatments and other efforts on 230 acres of the Willamette National Forest (WNF) to increase forage quality for Roosevelt elk and deer; enhance 199 acres via seeding, planting browse shrubs, herbicide treatments, and installing holding tanks and plumbing at two ponds to enhance water availability during the dry season on Foley Ridge in the WNF; burn, cut, seed and prevent weed growth to benefit summer range and calving areas on 85 acres of habitat on Upper and Lower Murphy Meadow on the WNF; remove noxious weeds and seed native grasses on 79 acres along a power transmission line corridor on the WNF; and improve quality of grass, forb and brush habitat on 505 acres by removing blackberry vegetation and small trees plus treatment of noxious weeds on the Siuslaw National Forest (also affects Benton, Douglas and Lincoln counties).

Linn County–Implement a combination of thinning, burning, browse cutback and seeding and planting of native vegetation to enhance 64 acres of summer meadow habitat for Roosevelt elk in the west Cascade Mountains. The work also includes adding slash to log jams to improve water availability for elk in the WNF.

Statewide–Host 4-H camp at Lake Creek Youth Camp to introduce youth to careers in natural resources by interacting with professionals in hydrology, forestry, range, wildlife, fisheries, fire science, shooting sports and other fields.

Tillamook County–Noxious weed treatment applied to 156 acres of meadows in the Siuslaw National Forest. The work also includes mowing, weedeating and mulching to benefit Roosevelt elk herds (also affects Lincoln and Yamhill counties).

Union County–Thin 300 acres to decrease conifer cover and increase forage on elk summer range on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.

Wallowa County–Thin conifers from 330 acres of historic meadows to improve forage quality and quantity for 400 elk on crucial winter range near Troy.

Wasco County–Burning of underbrush on 80 acres on the Seven Mile/Rowena Plateau in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area with noxious weed treatment on 45 acres to follow to improve habitat for elk and other wildlife.

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 Oregon projects include the Deschutes, Freemont-Winema, Siuslaw, Wallowa-Whitman and Willamette national forests, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and other government, state, wildlife and volunteer organizations.

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RMEF to Allot $3.4 Million for Habitat and Hunting Heritage Projects in 2013

MISSOULA, Mont.–The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will allocate nearly $2.9 million for elk and wildlife-related conservation projects in 27 states with wild, free-ranging elk populations in 2013. Additionally $570,000 will also be allocated to hunting heritage programs in 49 states.

The funding totals $3,459,899, which is derived from banquet-based memberships and fundraising by local RMEF chapters, and represents a 30 percent increase from 2010.

“This is a testament to the mission focused attitude of our dedicated volunteers,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “Their successful chapter banquets raise money which is then turned around and put back on the ground to RMEF mission programs in their own states.”

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. Examples of projects include habitat stewardship such as prescribed burning, forest thinning and management, weed control, water improvements and more, mostly on public lands. Also included are research projects to improve management of elk, habitat, predators and other factors that influence conservation.

“These funds allow us to carry out dozens of projects that are vital to help elk and enhance elk habitat,” said Blake Henning, RMEF vice president of Lands and Conservation. “Among those efforts are a radio-collar elk study in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, five burn projects in Wyoming to improve forage, and various other research, fence removal and water supply projects.”

Allocated 2013 amounts for states with wild, free-ranging elk populations:

Alaska $17,339
Arizona $166,148
Arkansas $41,404
California $327,236
Colorado $249,376
Idaho $69,427
Kansas $10,000
Kentucky $60,558
Michigan $10,000
Minnesota $40,903
Missouri $5,000
Montana $438,129
Nebraska $10,000
Nevada $42,301
New Mexico $104,782
North Carolina$13,746
North Dakota $65,187
Oklahoma $13,728
Oregon $233,239
Pennsylvania $63,309
South Dakota $85,396
Tennessee $10,000
Utah $10,000
Virginia $10,000
Washington $283,078
Wisconsin $67,940
Wyoming $481,285

The amount listed above refers to money raised exclusively by RMEF volunteers in their individual states. RMEF will also distribute money received through donations, teaming with partners, grants and other means to its national core programs of habitat stewardship, land protection, elk restoration and hunting heritage.

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.

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Oregon Habitat Projects Selected for RMEF Funding

MISSOULA, Mont.–Rejuvenating decadent meadows used by foraging elk and other wildlife is the central theme in a list of Oregon conservation projects slated to receive grants in 2012 from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

The RMEF funding commitment totals $165,500 and affects 17 counties: Benton, Crook, Curry, Douglas, Grant, Harney, Klamath, Lake, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Morrow, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa and Wheeler.

Two projects have statewide interest with implications across the northwestern U.S.

“Oregon’s native grasslands are slowly shrinking because of fire suppression, encroaching conifers and noxious weed infestations. The projects that we’re funding this year will help restore some of those areas to a more natural condition,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “Our grants also will help to develop springs and guzzlers, remove old fencing and support important research across the state.”

RMEF’s mission is to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife and their habitat. Since 1985, the organization and its partners have completed 703 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Oregon with a combined value of more than $42 million.

Funding for RMEF grants is based on local membership drives and banquet fundraising by RMEF chapters and volunteers in Oregon. Allen thanked RMEF supporters for their dedication to conservation both in Oregon and all across elk country.

RMEF grants will help fund the following 2012 projects in Oregon, listed by county:

Crook County–Thin encroaching juniper, prescribe burn and seed native forage plants to improve habitat for elk, deer, turkey, quail and other wildlife on 2,069 acres in the Maury Mountains of the Ochoco National Forest.

Curry County–Prescribe burn and seed native forage plants over 401 acres of Roosevelt elk habitat in the Gold Beach Ranger District of the Siskiyou National Forest.

Douglas County–Improve elk foraging areas by thinning, prescribe burning and seeding native forage plants on 125 acres in the Dixon Game Management Unit of the Umpqua National Forest; prescribe burn 200 acres in the Ragged Ridge area of the Umpqua National Forest; create and/or maintain 59 acres of forage openings to improve wildlife habitat in the Toketee Ranger Station area of the Umpqua National Forest.

Grant County–Treat 100 acres of noxious weeds and develop six springs to improve habitat for elk, deer, antelope and bighorn sheep in the Widows Creek area.

Harney County–Repair and improve guzzlers, maintain and/or remove aspen exclosure fences, and seed native forage plants on retired roads to improve 80 acres of elk habitat in the Dairy Creek area of the Malheur National Forest.

Klamath County–Provide sponsorship for Promoting Lifelong Activities for Youth Outdoors (PLAY Outdoors) event to introduce youths to outdoor recreation and conservation (also affects Lake County).

Lake County–Thin encroaching conifer and juniper to restore 300 acres of elk foraging and calving habitat in the West Drew’s Creek area of the Fremont-Winema National Forest.

Lane County–Improve 246 acres of elk habitat by treating noxious weeds, seeding native forage plants, thinning brush and developing a water source in the Foley Ridge area of the Willamette National Forest; prescribe burn and seed native forage plants on 166 acres in the Chucksney/Grasshopper Ridge area of the Willamette National Forest; enhance forage quality by mowing, thinning conifers and treating weeds on 540 acres in the Central Coast Ranger District area of Siuslaw National Forest (also affects Lincoln, Douglas and Benton counties); restore meadow habitat by removing encroaching conifers, treating weeds and seeding native forage plants on 131 acres in the Middle Fork Willamette River area of the Willamette National Forest; treat noxious weeds on 79 acres of power-line corridor in the McKenzie River area of Willamette National Forest; with help from RMEF volunteers, hand-pull noxious weeds from a 32-acre riparian area that serves as elk calving grounds in the Buckhead Wildlife Area of the Willamette National Forest.

Linn County–Restore elk foraging areas by removing encroaching conifers and treating noxious weeds on 141 acres in the North Santiam area of the Willamette National Forest (also affects Marion County); remove encroaching conifers to restore 50 acres of meadow habitat in the Smith Prairie area of Willamette National Forest.

Statewide–In coordination with state wildlife agencies in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Washington and Wyoming, research effects of habitat, weather, predators and other factors affecting elk recruitment and future management models; expand and develop elk nutrition and habitat use models for professional wildlife management purposes.

Umatilla County–Improve elk winter range, summer range and calving grounds by treating noxious weeds on 2,000 acres in the North Fork John Day watershed area (also affects Grant and Morrow counties); seed 800 acres of native forage plants on public lands in the west Blue Mountains area.

Union County–Thin encroaching conifer stands to improve habitat for elk, mule deer and other wildlife on the Starkey Wildlife Management Unit of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest; remove 1-1/2 miles of old fencing, build a half-mile of new wildlife-friendly fencing, and treat 200 acres of noxious weeds within the Starkey Wildlife Management Unit.

Wallowa County–Prescribe burn 250 acres in the Chesnimus Wildlife Management Unit of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest to enhance elk forage on public land; treat noxious weeds on 700 acres in the Grande Ronde and Imnaha river watersheds (also affects Union County).

Wheeler County–Treat 975 acres of elk habitat for noxious weeds, and develop and fence a spring to improve cattle distribution away from weeded areas, in the Bridge Creek area of the Ochoco National Forest.

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.

Partners for 2012 projects in Oregon include the Oregon Dept. of Agriculture, Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Hunters Association, Oregon State University, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Geological Survey and other agencies, tribes, organizations, corporations and landowners.

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