MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, an international conservation group focused on habitat protection and enhancement, has announced its first-round grants for 2008 projects in Montana.

Twenty conservation grants totaling $188,162 have been awarded. Another $141,981 has been allocated for second-round grants to be decided in June.

First-ground grants will affect Broadwater, Jefferson, Flathead, Lake, Lewis & Clark, Madison, Missoula, Park, Phillips, Powder River, Powell, Rosebud, Sanders and Silver Bow counties. An additional project has statewide interest.

“This is all about ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife and their habitat in Montana,” said David Allen, Elk Foundation president and CEO. “Grants are based on revenues from Elk Foundation fundraising banquets in Montana, as well as worthy project proposals.”

Elk Foundation grants will help fund the following Montana conservation projects, listed by county:


Broadwater County—
Treat 459 acres of noxious weeds to improve forage for elk in Helena National Forest and BLM lands (also affects Jefferson County).

Jefferson County—Thin 30 acres of encroaching juniper, treat 15 acres of noxious weeds and prescribed burn 1,000 acres to improve forage for elk in south Elkhorns area.

Flathead County—Prescribed burn 1,073 acres to rejuvenate shrubs and grasses, improving forage for elk in Flathead National Forest; treat 35-60 acres of noxious weeds in Flathead National Forest (also affects Powell County and Lewis & Clark County); prescribed burn 1,200 acres to enhance forage in Flathead National Forest.

Lake County—Prescribed burn 550 acres to open and enhance habitat for elk and other wildlife on Flathead National Forest.

Madison County—
Treat 512 acres of noxious weeds using herbicides and biocontrols on crucial winter range for elk in Sun Ranch area.

Missoula County—Thin 550 acres of encroaching conifer to improve grasslands habitat for elk in Blackfoot Clearwater Wildlife Management Area; treat 370 acres of noxious weeds to restore native plants on elk winter range in Missoula area; research project to study elk behaviors when residing close to humans.

Park County—Thin and prescribed burn 240 acres to enhance habitat for elk in Gallatin National Forest; treat 300 acres of noxious weeds in Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness.

Phillips County—Restore 160 acres of abandoned farmlands to enhance elk winter range in Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge.

Powell County—Prescribed burn 1,000 acres of elk habitat to thin encroaching conifer in Lolo National Forest; thin trees and restore sagebrush habitat on BLM lands.

Rosebud County—Prescribed burn 1,080 acres to open ponderosa pine stands and improve forage for elk in Custer National Forest (also affects Powder River County).

Sanders County—Thin encroaching conifer to enhance elk habitat on 1,000 acres in Lolo National Forest.

Silver Bow County—Treat noxious weeds on 106 acres, and relocate a livestock pasture fence, to enhance habitat for elk in Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest; treat noxious weeds on 286 acres and reconstruct 1.3 miles of livestock fence on elk winter range in Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.

Statewide (all counties)—
Multi-state research project to study elk calf survival and mortality related to climate, wolves and habitat quality.

Since 1984, the Elk Foundation and its partners have completed more than 570 conservation projects in Montana with a value of nearly $104 million. Partners for 2008 projects in Montana include Bureau of Land Management, Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, University of Montana, U.S. Forest Service, other agencies, corporations, landowners and organizations.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk FoundationFounded in 1984 and headquartered in Missoula, Mont., the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife and their habitat. The Elk Foundation and its partners have permanently protected or enhanced over 5.2 million acres, a land area larger than Connecticut, Delaware and District of Columbia combined. More than 500,000 acres previously closed to public access are now open for hunting, fishing and other recreation. To help protect wild elk country or learn more about the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, visit www.elkfoundation.org or call 800-CALL-ELK.