December 16, 2018

RMEF Honored for Public Access and Habitat Stewardship

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation received the Public Lands Foundation’s (PLF) 2018 Landscape Stewardship Award at a ceremony here Tuesday for its leadership in conserving wildlife habitat and improving access on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

“The RMEF has been a long-time leader in working with the BLM, state and federal agencies, private landowners and other partners to conserve wildlife and enhance access to public lands for hunters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy,” said Ed Shepard, PLF president. “RMEF’s unique niche as a grassroots, member-driven organization has made a measureable impact as a passionate and effective advocate, working from the ground up to champion access and habitat improvement projects across the country.”

The Montana/Dakotas BLM nominated RMEF for the prestigious award and highlighted RMEF’s successful Cow Island Trail acquisition in north-central Montana immediately prior to the 2015 hunting season. The 93-acre project improved access to approximately 6,000 acres of public land in the scenic Upper Missouri Breaks that were extremely difficult to reach.

“We have worked side-by-side with our BLM partners for more than 34 years and appreciate receiving this honor and recognition,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “It is a reflection of our commitment to our mission and especially is an indicator of the support we receive from our volunteers, members and other conservation partners who support us in all that we do together.”

Over the past 20 years in the Montana/Dakotas region alone, RMEF spearheaded five lands projects conveying 14,015 acres to BLM, opening or improving access to more than 56,000 acres of public lands.

“The Elk Foundation is leaving an indelible mark on the ability of current and future generations to use and enjoy our nation’s public lands,” said Jon Raby, BLM Montana State Director. “RMEF’s ability to work closely with willing landowners to develop strategic access improvement projects is a tremendous asset for BLM and the public.”

The most recent RMEF-BLM Montana effort is the Little Sheep Creek access project in southwest Montana that, when completed, will permanently protect nearly 1,000 acres of wildlife habitat and improve access to 2,600 acres of adjacent public lands.

RMEF and BLM Montana have partnered on more than 60 habitat stewardship projects that directly benefited more than 80,000 acres of habitat for elk and a diverse array of other species. Nationally, the BLM and RMEF have completed more than 1,082 projects with a joint conservation portfolio valued in excess of $143 million dollars.

Photo information (left to right):  BLM/RMEF National Liaison Linda Cardenas, BLM Western District Manager Rick Hotaling, Kemp Conn, retired BLM Deputy Assistant Director, Lands and Resources, RMEF President/CEO Kyle Weaver, RMEF Director of Lands Jennifer Doherty, RMEF Senior Lands Program Manager Mike Mueller

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RMEF to Host Revamped 2019 Elk Camp and Mountain Festival

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—Mark your calendar! The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is excited to announce plans for its all-new Elk Camp and Mountain Festival to take place July 11-14, 2019, in Park City, Utah.

“This is a revolutionary approach to our historic national convention and one that charts a new course in scope and execution,” said Philip Barrett, Chairman of the RMEF Board of Directors. “Elk Camp will feature a wide range of interactive, family-friendly activities designed to celebrate our conservation mission, volunteers and partnerships, and appeal to everyone from our members to the general public. It will be a destination event that builds excitement and anticipation for the hunting season and reinforces the mantra that Hunting Is Conservation.”

2019 RMEF Elk Camp and Mountain Festival anchor activities:

  • Mountain Festival & Wild Harvest Festival
    • Interactive partner displays featuring shooting, spotting, mapping and more
    • Wild Harvest activations including field prep, processing and preparation of wild game
    • Hunting seminars and podcasts from industry leaders

 

  • Total Archery Challenge™
    • Multi-day competition with 100+ 3D targets to test marksmanship of archery skills
    • Future champions course for youth/novice archers

 

  • Elk Country Film Festival & Concert
    • World class music and entertainment in a festival atmosphere
    • Premiere of RMEF Films and independent productions

 

  • World Elk Calling Championships & Creation of Elk Country Hall of Fame
    • Awards banquet & induction ceremony
    • Expansion of current format to include regional qualifiers
    • Demonstrations, hunt seminars, vendor displays

Additionally, traditional RMEF gatherings will take place including the always popular Volunteer Fun Night that recognizes and honors volunteers for their efforts in raising funds and increasing outreach for the mission, Friends of the Foundation, Habitat Council and more.

“We are an outdoor-based organization so it is only fitting that our national convention centers on and features outdoor activities,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF President and CEO.  “We are excited to introduce this evolution to RMEF’s premier event while honoring and maintaining core elements that made Elk Camp what it is today.”

The Canyons Village in Park City will host the event with additional housing and camping opportunities available at other nearby locations.

More details will be released in the coming months.

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RMEF to Congress: Reauthorize, Fund LWCF

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation calls on Congress to renew and permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) with full, dedicated, annual funding.

“For 52 years now, LWCF has provided critical funding for landscapes, wildlife and riparian habitat, wildlife refuges and national parks, and even community recreation facilities and neighborhood parks,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “These LWCF-funded projects provide long-lasting benefits for hunting, fishing, hiking, camping and all sorts of other recreational pursuits. Without congressional action, LWCF will expire on September 30 so the time to act is now!”

As of early September 2018, LWCF funding provided more than $108 million in funding that assisted 80 different RMEF land projects that permanently protected more than 152,000 acres of wildlife habitat.

“The Priority Recreational Access program is a key facet of the LWCF program,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer.  “It helps maintain and expand access to our public lands.”

One example of the LWCF Priority Recreational Access program is the Middle Creek project in south-central Colorado. RMEF recently teamed up with the Bureau of Land Management and other partners to permanently protect and conserve a 28-acre property that improved access to 8,500 acres of adjacent public land.

LWCF helps conserve wild and undeveloped places, cultural heritage and benefits fish, wildlife and recreation. Its funding comes from royalties paid by energy companies drilling for oil and gas on the Outer Continental Shelf. The royalties bring in $900 million annually, most of which is diverted to other federal programs.

RMEF urges sportsmen, women and all other Americans who cherish conservation and our public lands to contact their elected representatives and urge them to renew and fully reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

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Michigan’s Elk, Hunting Heritage Receive Boost from RMEF Grants

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—In continuing its long-term relationship in Michigan, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation awarded more than $30,000 in grant funding to benefit elk, elk habitat and hunting programs in the Wolverine State.

“We are excited to make this funding as Michigan is celebrating 100 years of elk on the ground,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “The grants will benefit elk and other wildlife by improving habitat across the elk range.”

Michigan is home to more than 6,000 RMEF members and 19 chapters. RMEF volunteers raised the funds by hosting banquets, membership drives and other events.

“We can’t say enough about our volunteers,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “They provide their time, talents and abilities to further our conservation mission of ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. We simply cannot do it without them.”

Here are RMEF’s 2018 projects in Michigan, listed by county:

Cheboygan County

·        Remove brush and invasive autumn olive from 70 acres of openings and seed with annual rye to build soils that will later be planted to cool season legumes that are more palatable for elk and other wildlife in the Pigeon River State Forest and can be maintained by mowing and fertilizing.

·        Remove all brush and small trees to maintain and restore openings across 111 acres of the Pigeon River State Forest while also tilling and planting vegetation to benefit elk and other wildlife.


Otsego County

·        Provide funding for a conservation easement to permanently protect 56 acres of prime wildlife and riparian habitat along the Pigeon River.


Macomb County

·        Provide funding for equipment to benefit the Trinity Lutheran School’s archery program in Clinton Township that teaches 6th through 8th grade students about archery, teamwork and competition.


Statewide

·        Provide funding for the two-day Michigan Youth Hunter Education Challenge in Lansing that offers youth an opportunity to test their skills at a variety of hunting techniques under simulated hunting conditions. The event includes archery, muzzleloading, shotgun and .22 rifle shooting in addition to wildlife identification, orienteering and hunter safety and ethics.

RMEF funded its first Michigan project in 1990, a three-year cooperative study with Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Michigan State University to collect data on the movement and population of Michigan’s elk. At the time, Michigan’s elk herd was the only wild, free-ranging huntable elk herd east of the Mississippi.

Since 1990, RMEF and its partners completed 159 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects with a combined value of more than $5.4 million. These projects protected or enhanced 5,897 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 877 acres.

Michigan project partners include the Michigan Department of Natural Resources as well as other sportsmen, outdoor industry, additional organizations and private landowners.

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Newberg, Jacobsen Launch Elk Talk Podcast

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—Simply stated, it is all-elk, all-the-time. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is proud to present Randy Newberg and Corey Jacobsen’s Elk Talk Podcast.


“All my media platforms have one goal – lower the hurdles for those wanting to hunt our public lands,” said Newberg. “This podcast will be informational content to do just that; inform, inspire and hopefully provide a few laughs along the way.”

“To be able to work with Randy and focus on a subject we’re both incredibly passionate about – and to bring others along on the experience through the platform of a podcast – is going to be awesome!” said Jacobsen.

Newberg is host of Fresh Tracks and the popular Elk Talk video series. Jacobsen owns elk101.com and is the 9-time and reigning world elk callingchampion.

Elk Talk Podcast will focus on all things elk including elk calling, hunting and biology as well as conservation. It will also feature tips, hints, lessons learned and valuable insights from two hunters who focus on elk year-round.

“Randy and Corey are among America’s premiere elk hunters. They have a wealth of experience that will benefit both the bow hunter and the rifle hunter,” said Steve Decker, RMEF vice president of Marketing. “RMEF is excited to support this podcast and we look forward to following their pursuits.”

Recorded at RMEF headquarters and other locations, the podcast debuted on July 6. Go here to listen to its first edition.

Elk Talk Podcast is available on Stitcher, iTunes, Google Play, elktalkpodcast.com and on Instagram @ElkTalkPodcast.

Presented by RMEF, other Elk Talk Podcast sponsors include Gerber Gear, goHUNT.com, onX Hunt, Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls and Sitka.

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RMEF Team Elk Returns

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—Heart-pumping elk hunts and tales of conservation success highlight the eighth season of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s award-winning television show, RMEF Team Elk, presented by Bass Pro Shops/Cabelas’s.

Team Elk captures the essence of up-close, adrenaline-filled encounters with elk as well as the beauty of the backcountry,” said Steve Decker, RMEF vice president of Marketing. “We are excited to unveil another season as we highlight how Hunting is Conservation.”

Season eight of RMEF Team Elk begins the week of July 2. It airs every Sunday at 9 p.m. Additional weekly airings include Mondays at 3 a.m., Tuesdays at 5:30 a.m. and Thursdays at 9:30 a.m. (all times MT) on Outdoor Channel.

Hosted by Brandon Bates, highlighted episodes feature an elk migration scientist and the conservation director of one of the nation’s largest outdoor retailers talking conservation and chasing elk in New Mexico, a father-son duo from Wisconsin hunting elk in Montana using archery equipment they build and two participants of the Conservation Leaders for Tomorrow program in Colorado on their first-ever elk hunt, among others.

Presented by Bass Pro Shops/Cabela’s, additional sponsors include Browning, Browning Ammunition, Buck Knives, Danner, Eberlestock, Mathews, PEAK BlueDEF, Sitka, Wildgame Innovations, Yeti and Zeiss, with special thanks to ALPS OutdoorZ, Bog-Pod and Yamaha.

“We are grateful for our conservation partners who value hunting and support RMEF’s conservation mission of ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage,” added Decker.

You can watch the first six seasons of RMEF Team Elk online anytime for free on the Elk Network.

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Montana Project Protects Wildlife Habitat, Expands Public Access

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation worked with a conservation-minded family to permanently protect nearly 1,000 acres of elk habitat in southwest Montana. In addition to providing public access to the property, the project also greatly improves access to approximately 2,600 acres of adjacent public land.

“We appreciate Jerry and Linda Grow for recognizing the wildlife values of their land and reaching out to us to both protect it and open it to public access,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer.

The 960-acre parcel is located about 45 minutes south of Dillon in an area that includes a number of other RMEF land protection and public access projects. It is bordered on three sides by land managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. RMEF now holds the property and will keep it open to public access until conveying it to the BLM, expected to happen later in 2018.

“We are very grateful for our partnerships with the private landowner, RMEF, and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) who all were all instrumental in securing this property for the public and conserving this habitat,” said Cornie Hudson, BLM Dillon Field Office manager.

The property features high quality winter range habitat for as many as 700 elk and approximately 450 mule deer. It also supports moose, antelope, black bear, wolverine, greater sage-grouse and other wildlife. Both West Fork Little Sheep Creek and Straight Creek cross the immediate landscape providing vital riparian habitat for fish and other aquatic species.

The parcel will be incorporated into a grass bank to be periodically grazed by domestic livestock. Doing so will make it subject to prescribed fire and other stewardship work that will maintain high-quality habitat for wildlife and livestock alike.

The tract is also historic range for bighorn sheep that used it until a recent die-off. FWP is strongly considering the property for future bighorn reintroduction efforts.

Two small cabins are on currently on the site and will remain to be used as public rentals via the BLM recreation.gov system.

“We are so excited for the public to be able to experience this recreational opportunity!” added Hudson.”

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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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