June 24, 2018

More Pennsylvania Elk Country Protected, Open to Public Access

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—Another piece of Pennsylvania elk country is permanently protected and open to public access thanks to a collaborative effort by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC).

The Woodring Farm II project entails 37 acres and is the newest addition to State Game Lands 311. It is located near a project finalized in 2014 and marks the 13th RMEF land protection and access project in Pennsylvania elk country.

“Even though these three parcels amount to just 37 acres, every piece of the puzzle counts in expanding the total amount of elk habitat acreage protected in Pennsylvania,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “We appreciate our partners at the Pennsylvania Game Commission as well as RMEF members and volunteers for their continual support.”

The property lies within the heart of the Pennsylvania elk range in Elk County’s Benezette Township which boasts the highest elk population density in the state.

“This acquisition is critical as it protects a very popular public corridor for elk viewing.  Public visitation to these viewing areas increases every year,” said Bryan Burhans, PGC executive director. “However, high-quality elk range is finite. This area is now protected perpetually thanks to our partners at RMEF and an anonymous donor.”

Funds generated from Pennsylvania elk tags and the anonymous donation to RMEF provided funding for the project.

Since 1991, RMEF and its partners completed 425 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Pennsylvania with a combined value of more than $25 million. These projects protected or enhanced 26,907 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 10,152 acres.

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Court Rules in Favor of Active Forest Management

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied claims by several environmental groups and ruled in favor of a habitat management project in southwestern Montana.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and several other partners filed an amicus brief in support of the U.S. Forest Service and several other federal agencies.

“We have seen environmental groups file frivolous litigation time and time again seeking to thwart efforts designed at improving wildlife habitat and overall forest health. That is the case here,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “We appreciate the court’s ruling and look forward to the implementation of this needed habitat stewardship work.”

The East Deer Lodge Valley Landscape Restoration Management project is a landscape project in the Pintler Ranger District on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest designed to improve forest health and reduce sedimentation in the headwaters of the Clark Fork River.

The vast majority of lodgepole pine trees in this immediate area are dead. Many of them are already on the ground. Without forest management treatment in the near future, the forest floor will be covered with combustible material that will also impede the growth of shrubs and grasses needed by elk, deer and other wildlife.

The project calls for the removal of pine beetle-killed timber, forest thinning to reduce conifer encroachment and other treatments on riparian areas to protect and improve watersheds that will enhance both fish and wildlife habitat.

“RMEF maintains litigation reform is necessary in order to allow agencies tasked with managing our forests the ability to implement active forest management that is so badly needed all across elk country,” added Henning.

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RMEF to Serve on Hunting & Shooting Sports Conservation Council

*Editor’s Comment* – Participation in The Rigged System

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation accepted an invitation to serve on the Hunting and Shooting Sports Conservation Council.

Established on January 9, 2018, the group is tasked with providing the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture with advice about the establishment and implementation of existing and proposed policies and authorities regarding wildlife and habitat conservation.

“I am very pleased and honored to be appointed by Secretary Ryan Zinke,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “I look forward to representing the interests of elk and other big game, big game hunters and furthering RMEF’s conservation mission as we carry out this important work.”

“We have assembled here some of the best conservationists in America,” said Secretary Zinke. “Over a century ago, Teddy Roosevelt established the American conservation ethic — best science, best practices, greatest good, longest term. These sportsmen carry on the American conservation ethic in the modern day. Bringing these experts together will be key to ensuring the American tradition of hunting and shooting, as well as the conservation benefits of these practices, carries on.”

Council Objectives:

  • Conserve and restore wetlands, agricultural lands, grasslands, forests and rangeland habitats
  • Promote opportunities and expand access to hunting and shooting sports on public and private lands
  • Encourage hunting and shooting safety by developing ranges on public lands
  • Recruit and retain new shooters and hunters
  • Increase public awareness of the importance of wildlife conservation and the social and economic benefits of hunting and shooting
  • Encourage coordination among the public, hunting and shooting sports community, wildlife conservation groups and state, tribal, territorial, and federal government

The Hunting and Shooting Sports Conservation Council includes 17 members and 11 alternates. It plans to meet twice a year, and additional times as needed.

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RMEF Announces New President and CEO

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Board of Directors this week announced Kyle Weaver as the new President and CEO, effective June 30, 2018.

“It is a tremendous honor to serve as the leader of the most respected wildlife conservation organization in the country, one that does so much for elk, elk habitat and America’s hunting tradition,” said Weaver. “Moving forward, as a team, we will elevate the delivery of RMEF’s mission, including our lands and access work as well as advocating for our hunting heritage.”

Weaver comes to RMEF from a long and successful career with the National Rifle Association, where he rose from an entry level position to ultimately serve as an NRA Officer and Executive Director of General Operations. His oversight included educational, safety and training programs, grassroots fundraising, as well as hunting and conservation programs. He brings extensive experience with board relations, volunteer management and fiscal responsibility and oversight, along with program building and implementation.

“My entire career has been dedicated to protecting, promoting and supporting our rights in the outdoors as hunters and conservationists. I am excited and welcome this opportunity. I look forward to using my full energy to serve our donors, members, volunteers, partners and sportsmen and women everywhere in furthering RMEF’s conservation mission,” added Weaver.

“We are excited to have Kyle join us and look forward to his leadership as we build on the success of RMEF,” said Philip Barrett, chairman of the RMEF Board of Directors. “We want to thank DBA Executive Search & Recruitment for leading this extensive nationwide search process that yielded an incredible field of candidates.”

Larry Potterfield, a long-time friend of Kyle, lifelong hunter, author, decorated business leader and founder and CEO of Midway USA, added, “The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation plays a critical role in the conservation of one of America’s great wildlife resources.  Its long-term success is critical for the preservation of the species and the rights of hunters. Kyle Weaver is the perfect choice to lead this great organization into the future.”

A passionate and avid hunter, Weaver has supported RMEF for well over a decade and is a life member.

Currently, the RMEF president and CEO position is held by Nancy Holland, who stepped into the role in February from her board position to facilitate the transition to the new leadership.

“I am excited for Kyle and RMEF, he brings a strong business acumen and a commitment to conservation. A powerful combination to move RMEF forward and further establish its leadership role in the conservation community,” said Holland. Upon completion of this transition, Nancy will return to her role on RMEF’s Board of Directors.

Kyle is a graduate of Longwood University in Virginia, where he attended on a collegiate baseball scholarship. Weaver is a founding board member and current Chairman of the Fathers in the Field mentoring ministry.

He, wife Ashley and their family will be relocating to Missoula.

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Nancy Holland to Serve as RMEF Interim CEO

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation announced that the Board of Directors has asked Nancy Holland to serve as president and CEO on an interim basis.

“To join the team at this time is very exciting. RMEF has a special place in my heart,” said Holland. “Stepping into this new role, forefront in my thoughts and actions are our members, donors, sponsors and fellow staff members and the conservation mission they have entrusted us to carry forward.”

Holland is taking a leave from the RMEF Board of Directors, where she served since 2016, while the search continues for a long-term replacement. She and husband Howard are staunch supporters and life members who also served together as co-chairs of RMEF’s Habitat Council.

“Throughout my time with RMEF I have been blessed to meet and befriend wonderful, passionate people. It is these people, individuals, families and corporations that are the essence of RMEF. We come together in our passion for the future of elk and other wild life, wild places and our tradition of hunting. It’s what makes RMEF great.”

A graduate of St. Louis University, Holland has 35 years’ experience in investment and finance including managing a team of global investment professionals working on behalf of their international clients. Since 2009, she served as managing partner of Sapphire Point Partners LLC, which specializes in business consulting and real estate investment.

“RMEF has a strong financial footing, solid membership growth and an environment that supports our mission. We have a 5-year plan that we have been executing. We are solidly on our way to accomplishing those goals and surpassing them,” added Holland. “At the end of the day, it’s all about delivering mission. It’s why we are all here.”

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Elk Habitat Protected, Hunting Access Improved in Colorado

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—Thanks to a conservation-minded landowner and a key state funding program, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation joined Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) to permanently protect 2,677 acres of vital elk habitat in northwest Colorado.

“We are grateful to Rick Tingle, a RMEF life member, for placing a conservation easement on his Louisiana Purchase Ranch,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “Additionally, this project highlights the critical need for the Colorado Wildlife Habitat Program (CWHP) and its Habitat Stamp which supplied important funding to help push things through to the finish line.”

“With a fast-growing human population, it is more important than ever before to ensure the state’s wildlife has the habitat it needs to survive in perpetuity,” said Bill de Vergie, CPW area wildlife manager. “Thanks to funds provided by Great Outdoors Colorado and CPW’s Habitat Stamp Program, a very valuable stretch of land is now protected through the CWHP. Some limited public hunting access will also be provided so the benefits of this easement will pay dividends well into the future.”

CWHP provides a means for CPW to work with private landowners, local governments, and conservation organizations to protect important fish and wildlife habitat and provide places for people to enjoy opportunities to hunt and fish.

Since the ranch is bordered on three sides by State Land Board and Bureau of Land Management land in a part of the state home to Colorado’s largest elk herds, it provides connectivity for elk and mule deer migration. Thousands of elk pass through the area during the spring and fall. The property also provides summer and winter range for both species and other wildlife.

“This truly is a special place,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO, who has visited the location. “We are grateful to the Tingle family for recognizing and helping us protect the wildlife values of this land.”

Access is improved to surrounding public lands because the landowner will provide perpetual unlimited permission to public hunters for a 25-day period each year with drive-through access. In addition, he signed off on a 10-year CPW agreement to provide access for six elk and/or deer hunters on lands off County Road 23 during a three-day window during Colorado’s third rifle season.

Since 1987, RMEF and its partners completed 726 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Colorado with a combined value of more than $165.2 million. These projects protected or enhanced 447,910 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 107,992 acres.

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RMEF Eyes New Leadership, Maintains Same Conservation Mission

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation announced Chief Executive Officer David Allen is stepping down effective January 31, 2018.

“With David’s cooperation, RMEF has been able to implement a transition plan to ensure RMEF’s continued success in the years to come,” said Philip Barrett, RMEF chairman of the board. “David and his family have become an integral part of the RMEF family. We thank him for his contributions and leadership and wish him the best of success in his future endeavors.”

As RMEF moves forward, it maintains a focus on its long-standing conservation mission of ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

During Allen’s tenure, RMEF recorded nine consecutive years of record membership growth, conserved or enhanced nearly 1.8 million acres of wildlife habitat, opened or improved access to nearly 600,000 acres of public land and erased $16 million in debt to become debt-free for the first time ever. The organization also increased its volunteer base to more than 11,000 and assisted with successful elk reintroductions in Missouri, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Additionally, RMEF significantly boosted its hunting heritage outreach and advocacy efforts, secured in excess of $50 million in endowed funds, including the establishment of the Torstenson Family Endowment, and launched the Elk Network, an online digital platform dedicated to all things elk and elk hunting.

“I have enjoyed every day of my nearly 11 years here at RMEF. This is a great organization with some of the best wildlife professionals anywhere,” said Allen. “I support the board of directors’ search for a new CEO to take RMEF to the next level. I expect great things for RMEF in the future. I have other projects that interest me and this is a great time to pursue those opportunities.”

RMEF will release developments in its search for new leadership in the near future.

 

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RMEF Conserves Wisconsin Elk Habitat

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation permanently protected key elk habitat in Wisconsin elk country by first acquiring and then conveying a 360-acre inholding to Jackson County Forest.

“This is a crucial transaction because it prevents the potential of development and fragmentation within an area that is vital to Wisconsin’s newest elk herd,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “It also both improves and increases public access for hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities.”

The Morrison Creek property is surrounded on three sides by the 122,000-acre Jackson County Forest and is located less than three miles east from where more than 70 elk were released in 2015-2016. The area also provides year-round habitat for black bear, whitetail deer, wild turkey and an array of other wildlife species.

The acquisition opens the door for improved wildlife management practices as well as habitat stewardship work designed to promote early seral habitat for elk and other wildlife.

RMEF previously supplied funding for a nearby grassland enhancement project to increase meadow habitat.

Snipe Lake II Project
RMEF also purchased an 80-acre private inholding within the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. The transaction, which builds on a prior acquisition in Wisconsin’s northern elk restoration area, permanently protects key elk habitat and is critical to future forest management efforts.

Since 1990, RMEF and its partners completed 455 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Wisconsin with a combined value of more than $8.5 million. These projects protected or enhanced 5,848 acres of habitat and opened or secured public access to 1,630 acres.

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RMEF Soars to 9th Straight Year of Record Membership

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—Riding a wave of conservation success, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation enters 2018 with 227,650 members, marking its ninth consecutive year of record membership growth.

“This continual sustained growth is a reflection of our on-the-ground conservation mission and improved advocacy and outreach efforts,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “We are grateful to our members, volunteers, partners and sportsmen and women who are so supportive.”

This new tally marks a 50 percent increase in membership since 2008 and a 2.4 percent increase from a year ago.

Among its 2017 highlights, RMEF erased all long-term debt and remains debt-free for the first time in its 33-plus years. It also launched the Elk Network, a new online digital outreach tool focusing on all things elk and elk hunting. Additionally, RMEF assisted with ongoing elk restoration efforts in Wisconsin and reaffirmed its support of America’s public lands. It also bestowed its highest conservation honor on its 11,000-plus volunteers for their dedicated efforts in boosting RMEF’s mission.

“While we value and appreciate this record growth trend, RMEF vows to do all we can to increase and accelerate our conservation mission of ensuring the future elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage,” added Allen.

Since 1984, RMEF and its partners completed more than 11,000 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects with a combined value of more than $1.1 billion. These projects protected or enhanced 7.2 million acres of habitat and opened or secured public access to 1.2 million acres.

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Kimber Donates $50,000 to RMEF’s Conservation Mission

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation accepted a $50,000 donation from Kimber in response to strong sales of the Kimber Camp Guard 10.

“We appreciate and value the support of our partners at Kimber,” said Steve Decker, RMEF vice president of Marketing. “This donation is evidence of both Kimber’s support of our conservation mission and of a quality firearm that is valued by hunters and recreational shooters alike.”

Designed in collaboration with RMEF for use in the backcountry, the Camp Guard 10 is comfortable to carry. As a 10 mm handgun it also combines sought-after personal defense features in what is widely considered the best semi-auto bear cartridge.

Made of stainless steel and featuring a rosewood grip with a RMEF logo, Kimber set aside a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each handgun to benefit RMEF.

“We are proud to play a role in conservation and give back to our partners at RMEF,” said Ryan Busse, Kimber vice president of sales. “Kimber is a company of hunters and shooters, and of RMEF Members. We consider it an honor to provide the finest hunting and shooting gear to the people who are engaged in conservation and hunting.”

The Camp Guard 10 remains popular in the general market. RMEF also offered it to its life members and features it in its nationwide banquet program. It is one of RMEF’s more popular officially licensed products.

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