Pennsylvania — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation announced a new chapter and plans to fund six new conservation projects in 2007 to protect and enhance wildlife habitat in Pennsylvania.Lancaster Pennsylvania becomes a new member of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation family by establishing a new chapter. As the 26th chapter in the state, Lancaster’s Red Rose Chapter is a reflection of Pennsylvania’s enthusiasm for conservation and habitat stewardship. The Red Rose Chapter will conduct its first Big Game Banquet at the Host Resort in Lancaster, April 12, 2008.

The Elk Foundation has awarded nearly $153,000 in grant funding for habitat stewardship and wildlife management projects across Pennsylvania in 2007. With partner contributions, the Elk Foundation has contributed nearly $8 million to conservation efforts in Pennsylvania.“We’re very excited about the conservation work we’re accomplishing in Pennsylvania.  This new round of grants is testament to our long-term commitment to the state’s wildlife resource,” said Dave Ragantesi, the Elk Foundation’s Regional Director in Pennsylvania. “The grants are made available through the efforts of our hardworking Pennsylvania volunteers who conduct annual fundraising events. We could not conduct this critical conservation work without their support,” he said.

The Elk Foundation and its partners have contributed a value of over $7.7 million to complete 129 conservation projects in Pennsylvania since the organization began in 1984. These conservation efforts have had a major impact on elk and other wildlife habitat throughout the state, permanently protecting and enhancing almost 13,600 acres. Additionally, the Elk Foundation and its partners have opened access to more than 7,000 acres for public hunting, fishing and other recreation in Pennsylvania.

Among the top conservation projects the Elk Foundation recently funded in Pennsylvania:

Pennsylvania Elk Habitat Use Study – Year Two (Elk, Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton and Potter Counties) – This study is in its second year of research and examines the influences of various biological factors on elk habitat.  Model habitats are created through the tracking of 70 radio collared elk. The study will provide recommendations for enhancing elk habitat and population growth.

Pennsylvania Wilds Elk Country Visitor’s Center – Conservation Education Planning (Elk County) – Two studies will be conducted to determine the focus of conservation education programs that will be available to visitors at the future Pennsylvania Wilds Elk Country Visitor Center.

Pennsylvania Elk Range Expansion and Enhancement (Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton and Elk Counties) – Approximately 20 acres of habitat openings in three locations in Pennsylvania’s Elk Range will be created. Habitat improvement will involve lime treatment of nearly 600 acres, fertilizing 843 acres, seeding and herbicide treatment of 200 acres.

State Game Lands Habitat Enhancement (Elk County) – Pennsylvania’s most popular elk viewing location will be limed and seeded, helping to attract more elk.  By contributing to the state’s primary elk tourist attraction, this project will continue to raise wildlife habitat and conservation awareness throughout the region.

Kettle Creek Valley Seeding (Elk County) –Elk and other wildlife habitat enhancement, such as seeding in the Kettle Creek Valley, will help create alliances with landowners, allowing future hunting access.  The Elk Foundation acquired this 1,378-acre property last year and transferred ownership to the state. The land is now open to the public.

State Grant Program – Elk Foundation volunteers supported 17 conservation education projects this year throughout Pennsylvania with the help of nearly $18,000 in grants from the Foundation.

“Many of our programs involve conservation education,” said Ragentesi. “County Youth Field Days, Women in the Outdoors Programs, and Wild About Elk Teacher Workshops are just a few of the programs.  Through these programs, we’re reaching thousands of people who would not normally be introduced to the outdoors.”

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

Founded 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 nearly 5 million acres, a land area nearly twice as large as Yellowstone National Park. More than 500,000 acres previously closed to public access are now open for hunting, fishing and other recreation. The Elk Foundation has more than 150,000 members, a staff of 150 and 10,000 active volunteers. To help protect wild elk country or learn more about the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, visit www.elkfoundation.org, www.PennsylvaniaRMEF.org, or call 800-CALL-ELK.