February 3, 2023

Torstenson Family Honored with RMEF?s Highest Award

MISSOULA, Mont. – The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation presented the Bob Torstenson family with its highest honor, the Wallace Fennell Pate Wildlife Conservation Award, to honor special contributions of lasting significance for the benefit of elk and elk country.

“Bob Torstenson’s passion and the gift of his New Mexico ranch will have incredibly positive ramifications for RMEF, elk, elk habitat and the ability to pass on our hunting heritage to our kids and grandkids for generations to come,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO.

Torstenson gifted his sprawling 93,403-acre Double H Ranch to RMEF in 2002. A recent transfer in ownership of the since renamed Torstenson Wildlife Center established the Torstenson Family Endowment (TFE). RMEF will solely use proceeds from the $30 million TFE to further its core mission programs of permanent land protection, habitat stewardship, elk restoration and hunting heritage. It also allows RMEF to increase project funding by attracting matching funds both from the private and public sectors, and allows RMEF to more quickly head off the habitat changes and challenges taking place across the country.

Eric Torstenson, Bob’s youngest son, along with Eric’s wife Gwen, accepted a bronze sculpture on behalf of his late father and family in front of a standing ovation of more than 1,000 people during the 29th annual RMEF Elk Camp national convention, which ended March 3 in Las Vegas.

“This is all my father’s doing. He absolutely loved elk. He loved elk, loved kids. And both of those together is what RMEF in his eyes can be and is,” Eric said. “In the long run, so many lives, so many animals, a lot of land – it’s just going to be touched in a broad sphere.”

“In keeping with Mr. Torstenson’s wishes, priority 1A for endowment funds, right up there alongside habitat protection, is support for youth programs. We have to not only help more kids get outdoors and developing some skills, but also start selling the hunting heritage message – that hunting is conservation – to help youths and the non-hunting public see how our wildlife system functions, and how hunting is such a critical part of that,” added Allen. “Priority 1B is hunting access. We’re especially interested in searching for, identifying and developing solutions to challenges of public wildlife on private land.”

RMEF maintains a conservation easement on the entire ranch, thus conserving and protecting the habitat forever.

Wallace Fennell Pate, RMEF’s first president and chairman of the board, dedicated his time, energy and financial resources for the betterment of wildlife in North America. Now deceased, Pate became a national role model for groups or individuals concerned with natural resources conservation.


RMEF Rewards Allen with 5-Year Contract Extension

MISSOULA, Mont. – Coming off the most successful year in its 29-year history, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its board of directors rewarded David Allen with a five-year contract extension. Allen has served as president and CEO since 2007.

“David has done a wonderful job! Just everything we’ve seen has been way above what we ever expected,” said John Caid, outgoing RMEF board chairman. “We’ve been so pleased that we thought we definitely needed to make sure David knew we were happy with his performance.”

“We felt that by reviewing the contract and considering an extension at this time, rather than waiting until this time next year, would send a message to staff, volunteers, sponsors, vendors and all of our various audiences that we were pleased with the overall performance of the organization, including a five-year run at exceeding financial goals and looking at strong membership growth as well as strong development growth, thus sending a message of confidence in leadership for the future,” said Lee Swanson, RMEF chairman of the board.

Allen recently announced the creation of the $30 million Torstenson Family Endowment that will allow RMEF to vastly accelerate its mission to enhance the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. Under his leadership, RMEF surged to its fourth consecutive year of record membership, now standing at 196,079.

“I am very pleased to be staying on in this job for another five years,” said David Allen. “RMEF consists of the best folks in wildlife conservation and I am honored to work with them all.”

A lifelong conservationist with a zeal for elk and hunting, Allen eventually created his own sports marketing agency. He spent 33 years marketing pro rodeo, the Pro Bull Riders Tour and the Dale Earnhardt/Richard Childress race teams. He joined the RMEF board of directors in 2004 and became a life member in 2006. Allen also served on the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation board. He is currently serving a second term on the Wildlife Hunting Heritage Conservation Council and is a member of the executive committee of the Council to Advance Hunting and Shooting Sports.

“Overall, I think an observation by insiders and those looking at us from the outside would conclude that we have had five of the best years in the history of RMEF. And with help and oversight from the board of directors, we will have another great five years,” added Swanson.

“We changed our direction the last few years and we’re in a very positive spot as an organization and are headed in the right direction now,” said Caid.

“We have come a long ways in the last five years. We now have zero short-term debt, we have refocused on the principles the organization was originally founded on and we now have a very credible endowment fund to continue to grow our mission delivery,” added Allen. “It is a very exciting time to be at RMEF.”

Born and raised in Deadwood, S.D., Allen makes his home with his wife and two sons in Billings, Mont.