September 22, 2017

More Elk Country Conserved, Opened to Public Access in Pennsylvania

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—An additional 766 acres of Pennsylvania elk habitat is now permanently protected and opened to public access thanks to efforts by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) and a generous donor.

“This would not have happened without landowners who care about Pennsylvania and both understand and appreciate the crucial wildlife values of this area,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer.

Located in Centre County, the project extends the western unit of State Game Lands 100 to the north along the West Branch of the Susquehanna River. By doing so, it expands that unit to 5,272 acres in size and improves access to it while expanding the overall size of the two State Game Lands 100 units to a combined 21,069 acres.

“This critical acquisition to the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s State Game Land system will not only enhance the agency’s ability to better manage the southern dispersal of its elk herd, but it will benefit all Pennsylvanians by adding an additional 766 acres,” said Bryan Burhans, PGC executive director. “We are grateful for the outstanding partnership between RMEF and the Game Commission.”

The property’s habitat includes oak and pine woodlands, meadows, grassland and key riparian habitat along 1.24 miles of the river. It is home to elk, whitetail deer, black bears, turkey, grouse and other bird and animal life.

“We are especially grateful for our long-standing partners at the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Their dedication and determination made this project possible,” added Henning.

Since 1991, RMEF and its partners completed 424 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Pennsylvania with a combined value of more than $24.9 million. These projects conserved or enhanced 26,874 acres of habitat and opened or secured public access to 9,312 acres.

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David Allen Will Be Leaving RMEF – Search Begins for Replacement

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation announced today the initiation of a search committee to find a replacement for David Allen, RMEF’s President and CEO, whose contract expires in August 2018.

‘RMEF has flourished under David’s leadership for the past ten years and there is no question that he is leaving RMEF much better than he found it,’ explained Philip Barrett, the Chair of RMEF’s Board of Directors, ‘and the end of David’s tenure next August provides an opportunity for the Board to transition to a new leader to secure the continued growth and success of RMEF.’

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, with over 222,000 members, 146 employees, $93,000,000 in assets, and programs and services that touch virtually every state in the country, is one of the largest and most robust conservation organizations in the United States. Mr. Barrett indicated that the vacancy is expected to draw interest from scores of exceptionally qualified individuals, and he noted that the committee has been formed now with the goal of enabling RMEF to conduct an exhaustive search. He added ‘RMEF will issue more information at an appropriate time concerning the search as it gets underway.’

Further information about RMEF and its mission, programs, and membership can be found online at www.rmef.org.

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Montana Elk Habitat Conserved, Opened to Public Access

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—A key wildlife landscape previously threatened by subdivision in northwest Montana is now permanently protected and in the public’s hands thanks to a collaborative effort between the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, a conservation-minded family and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).

“This property lies within the popular Holland Lake recreational area of the scenic Swan Valley and there was some pressure to develop it,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “We appreciate the landowners for recognizing the wildlife values of the land and reaching out to us to help conserve it.”

The 640-acre parcel offers important summer and winter habitat for elk and whitetail deer. It is also provides key habitat for grizzly bears, Canada lynx and a vast array of other wildlife. Additionally, it contains riparian habitat via springs and a chain of wetland ponds that feed a tributary of Holland Creek.

Located about 65 miles north of Missoula, the property lies west of the Swan Mountain Range and is nestled between the Bob Marshall Wilderness to the east and Mission Mountain Wilderness to the west. It was previously an inholding within the Flathead National Forest but thanks to its conveyance, it now falls under the ownership umbrella of the USFS and belongs to all citizens.

”This acquisition will improve public land access, and help to preserve the recreation setting and valuable wildlife habitat in the popular Holland Lake area,” said Rich Kehr, Swan Lake district ranger.

The Holland Lake project is one of the first to receive 2017 funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Since 1985, RMEF and its partners completed 967 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Montana with a combined value of more than $160.2 million. These projects protected or enhanced 818,826 acres of habitat and opened or secured public access to 289,532 acres.

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RMEF: Silver Linings in Great Lakes Wolf Ruling

*Editor’s Note* – Along with the earlier posting this morning, there is little need to get excited or even optimistic about anyone’s “ability” going forward to “manage” wolves or that states will do anything differently than the Federal Government is doing now. What changes is the financial responsibility is moved from the Feds to the states. Nothing else will change as has been proven in states where wolves are no longer protected under the Endangered Species Act. If you are hoping and thinking that removal of protection of wolves from the Federal Government to the State Governments is going to result in fewer “CONTROLLED” wolves and the state’s ability to manage populations of game animals for surplus harvest, as has been the modus operandi for decades under the North American Model of Wildlife Management will soon take over, you are seriously mistaken.

For what it is worth – meaning that this is but one appeals court decision and several more can make a mockery out of the fake judicial system and change these decisions with the stroke of a pen – where once, many years ago, I argued that environmentalists and the courts could not claim the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service doesn’t have authority to delist a Distinct Population Segment while, at the same time, approving of the act to list a Distinct Population Segment of any species. My argument fell on deaf ears and lo and behold one appeals court sees it the correct way.

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—Unlike its decision earlier in 2017 upholding efforts to delist wolves in Wyoming, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia chose not to do the same in the Western Great Lakes states.

“We are disappointed with this latest ruling, but the court wholeheartedly rejected a number of claims by environmental groups regarding wolves and wolf management,” said David Allen, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation president and CEO. “The court undid a number of roadblocks thus providing a path forward.”

Positive points from the decision:

  • Rejected an environmental group argument that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) did not use the best available science
  • The Endangered Species Act allows the FWS to delist a distinct wolf population segment
  • Supported FWS’s reliance on state management of wolves and other wildlife in the Western Great Lakes states
  • Upheld the FWS’s determination that disease and human mortality do not pose a significant threat to the wolf population
  • There is no permanent barrier to delisting wolves

“This latest ruling came six years after the FWS tried for a third time to delist wolves in the Great Lakes. We call on Congress to approve and pass a legislative fix to halt this non-stop litigation that frustrates successful wildlife management,” said Allen. “These environmental groups continue to use the wolf as a fundraising tool while overlooking and ignoring each state’s approved wildlife management plans.”

As of 2015-16, there is an estimated minimum population of 3,762 wolves in the Great Lakes states. Minnesota’s wolf population is approximately one and a half times above objective. Michigan’s wolf population is more than 200 percent above its state plan and Wisconsin’s wolf population is more than 250 percent above objective.

RMEF recognizes that predators have a proper place on the landscape but that they need to be managed just as elk, deer and other wildlife are managed in accordance with the North American Wildlife Conservation Model.

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RMEF Reaffirms Support of Public Lands

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—In light of continuing chatter and rhetoric aimed at privatizing federal public lands, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation continues to advocate its support for keeping public lands in the hands of America’s citizens.

“The 640 million acres of public land across the United States play a highly significant role in our wildlife system,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “Without them, our management system, which is the most successful in the world, would crumble and the health of our wildlife populations would deteriorate.”

Allen publicly challenged Steve Hanke, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, who called on the government to sell public lands to private ownership in a recent issue of Forbes magazine.

“We cannot afford to play games here. What we need is a focused, pro-active land management approach for our public land assets in this country. RMEF will not waiver on supporting public lands but we are seeking better habitat management and the resources to make that happen,” said Allen.

Allen highlighted a recent elk migratory study by Dr. Arthur Middleton that shows how critical public lands are to the survival of elk in the Greater Yellowstone region.

“We have to manage our public lands with more of a focus on wildlife,” added Allen.

RMEF maintains its decades-long position that public lands must remain public and that such land needs to be managed for the benefit of wildlife and public access but especially for the overall health of forests, grassland and waterways.

Since 1984, RMEF and its partners completed nearly 11,000 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects with a combined value of more than $1 billion. These projects conserved or enhanced more than 7.1 million acres of wildlife habitat.

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Here Comes Season Seven of RMEF Team Elk

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—Elk hunting adventures highlight the upcoming seventh season of RMEF Team Elk, presented by Cabela’s.

Team Elk remains one of the most unique hunting shows in all of outdoor television. It’s all elk, all the time,” said Steve Decker, RMEF vice president of Marketing. “It gives us the opportunity to highlight and promote the hunting culture and offer insight about the link between hunting and conservation.”

Season seven of RMEF Team Elk begins the week of June 26 and airs Sundays at 9:00 p.m., Tuesdays at 9:00 a.m. and Fridays at 12:00 p.m. (all Mountain time) on the Outdoor Channel.

Hosted by Brandon Bates, the new episodes feature a first responder from Texas chasing elk in New Mexico, a NASCAR driver who exchanges life in the fast lane for a bow during the Montana rut, a father-teenage daughter adventure, several father-son outings, a woman who chases elk for her first time in Colorado and memorable hunts in Utah and other locations.

In addition to Cabela’s, other RMEF Team Elk sponsors include ALPS OutdoorZ, Bloodsport, Bog-Pod, Browning, Browning Ammunition, Buck Knives, Danner, Eberlestock, Mathews, MTN OPS, Peak/BlueDef, Sitka, Yamaha, YETI Coolers and Zeiss.

“We appreciate our conservation partners for their dedicated support of elk, elk country and the RMEF,” added Decker.

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Renowned Conservationist, RMEF Promote Relevance of Hunting

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—In an effort to promote a wider public conversation about the positive connections between hunting and wildlife conservation, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation partnered with widely-respected conservationist and wildlife researcher Shane Mahoney to release a timely and evocative short film titled Relevance.

The video, which discusses the modern relevance of hunting traditions, especially in terms of conservation benefits, is the first product generated as part of a new and ongoing collaboration between RMEF and Mahoney.

“Shane is one of the world’s leading voices for conservation,” said Steve Decker, RMEF’s vice president of Marketing. “His message about hunting’s role in society showcases the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, certainly one of the most successful systems of wildlife recovery and management the world has ever seen. Shane’s message resonates not only among sportsmen and women, but also with those who do not hunt or fish but who share in the concern for wildlife’s future.”

The film’s narrative is borrowed from Mahoney’s keynote address, delivered at RMEF’s 2017 National Convention earlier this year in Nashville.

Mahoney, a long-time RMEF member, is the president and CEO of Conservation Visions, a global wildlife initiative focused on international conservation issues.

“Hunting is sometimes incorrectly viewed as a self-indulgent and wasteful anachronism in modern society,” says Mahoney. “However, we know, from an objective perspective, that sustainable use of wildlife can be an effective tool in support of conservation and human livelihoods; it is connected to the conservation of wild lands and waters, the environment, and our own food security.”

In 2015, Mahoney launched the Wild Harvest Initiative, a multi-year research and communication effort supported by RMEF and a diverse partnership of individuals, business interests, conservation NGOs and government agencies. The project’s mission is to provide a first-ever evaluation of the biomass and economic value of wild food harvested by recreational hunters and anglers in Canada and the United States and to assess the wider community of consumers who share in this harvest. By conjoining these insights with existing economic assessments of recreational hunting and angling, and by evaluating the costs and mechanisms that might be considered necessary to replace this wild food harvest, the Wild Harvest Initiative will help focus a wider question facing conservation policy institutions in both countries; namely, if hunting and angling were to cease tomorrow, what would be the consequences?

RMEF and Mahoney will work together on future projects as part of RMEF’s ongoing#HuntingIsConservation campaign, which has reached more than 30 million people since its launch in January 2016.

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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.

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RMEF Celebrates 33rd Anniversary

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is commemorating 33 years of carrying out its conservation mission to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

“We are deeply indebted to and grateful for men and women who had the foresight, energy and perseverance to establish this organization for the benefit of elk and elk country,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “They sacrificed much for a big game mammal that today is the thriving majestic symbol of our nation’s wild country.”

Founded on May 14, 1984, by four elk hunters in northwest Montana, RMEF began operations in a modest trailer in the middle of a field. At that time, there were approximately 550,000 elk in North America. Today, there are more than one million elk from coast-to-coast.

As of December 31, 12016, RMEF and its partners carried out 10,469 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects that conserved or enhanced 7,111,358 acres. It also opened or secured access to 1,105,667 acres. Additionally, RMEF assisted with successful elk reintroductions in seven states and one Canadian province.

RMEF now has more than 222,000 thousand members and more than 500 chapters across the United States.

“We appreciate our volunteers, members and partners as well as sportsmen and women who support the RMEF. It is because of them that we are able to accelerate our mission across elk country,” added Allen.

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RMEF Salutes Volunteers

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is proud to recognize and honor its conservation army of 11,000 volunteers during National Volunteer Week.

“We cannot express how grateful we are for good men and women who do so much for elk and elk country,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “They work tirelessly on their own time to raise funds to further our shared conservation mission of ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.”

Volunteers host fundraising banquets, membership drives and other events in more than 500 chapters from coast-to-coast. They also assist with youth seminars, camps and other activities that bolster the future of hunting and conservation. Additionally, they take part in on-the-ground projects such as fence pulls, noxious weed treatments, erecting wildlife water sources and other activities.

RMEF honored its volunteers at its 2017 National Convention in Nashville by collectively awarding them the Wallace Fennell Pate Wildlife Conservation Award. Presented only 22 times, it is awarded to those who have made a contribution of lasting significance to the benefit of RMEF’s conservation mission across North America.

“There’s absolutely no doubt about it. RMEF would not be where it is today without the dedicated and passionate effort of our volunteers,” added Allen.

The award itself will be on display at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s headquarters in Missoula, Montana.

Go here for more information about RMEF volunteer opportunities.

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