MISSOULA, Mont.—In a year remembered for economic woes, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation led a bullish 2008 bailout that protected or enhanced more than a quarter-million acres of habitat for elk and other wildlife.
Without the stewardship effort, those lands would have spiraled into weed-choked meadows, overgrown forests, developments or other forms of elk-country bankruptcy.
The 2008 totals bring the Elk Foundation’s lifetime conservation impact to over 5.5 million acres.
“We had a great year, especially when you consider the economic climate,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “We funded 456 different projects, mostly habitat projects in elk states, as well as education and hunting heritage projects across the nation. In all, 40 states benefitted from the efforts of our volunteers and supporters.”
Land protection projects, such as a land swap that added thousands of acres of elk habitat to the state forest system in Washington, impacted 99,348 acres. Habitat enhancement projects like weed treatments, forest thinning and prescribed burns touched another 161,551 acres. Combined acres totaled 260,899.
Education and hunting heritage projects helped over 200,000 students and adults learn more about conservation and America’s sporting heritage.
A few RMEF highlights from 2008:
- Brokered a land swap in Washington’s central Cascades that conserved and secured public access on 61,578 acres of elk habitat.
- Began construction on new Elk Country Visitor Center in north-central Pennsylvania.
- Launched a multi-year project to rejuvenate 4,200 acres of aspen in Idaho’s Swan Valley.
- Completed forest thinning to improve elk forage on 1,194 acres in the Santa Fe National Forest of New Mexico.
- Opened for public access and protected 2,800 acres of elk habitat in Wyoming’s Big Horn Mountains.
- Helped re-seed 590 acres of reclaimed mining lands to native grasses and forbs in Kentucky’s elk range.
- Completed a conservation easement protecting 4,119 acres of elk calving grounds near Dolores, Colo.
- Protected 500 acres as part of a multi-year 2,400-acre habitat project in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
- Repaired wildfire-damaged water tanks in Arizona’s Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.
- Helped complete a land acquisition that protected 640 acres of elk habitat in Pigeon River State Forest in Michigan.
- Continued research to determine feasibility of elk restoration project at Grasslands Ecological Area within California’s San Joaquin Valley.
- Acquired and conveyed to Bureau of Land Management nearly 200 acres of private in-holdings in Goshute Canyon Wilderness in Nevada. Another 100 acres
- Acquired and conveyed to U.S. Forest Service 100 acres of private in-holdings in Montana’s famed Elkhorn Wildlife Management Unit.
The Elk Foundation finished 2008 with over 150,000 members and 10,000 volunteers. Along with hundreds of partners, supporters and donors, the organization is entering 2009—the year of RMEF’s 25th Anniversary—with energy and enthusiasm, said Allen.
About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Snowy peaks, dark timber basins and grassy meadows. RMEF is leading an elk country initiative that has conserved or enhanced habitat on over 5.5 million acres—a land area equivalent to a swath three miles wide and stretching along the entire Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico. RMEF also works to open, secure and improve public access for hunting, fishing and other recreation. Get involved at www.rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.