20090822_RockyMnt_processMISSOULA, Mont.—Wildlife conservation projects in 17 Washington counties have been selected to receive grants from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation in 2010.

The new RMEF funding, totaling $186,270, will affect Asotin, Chelan, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Jefferson, King, Kittitas, Lincoln, Pacific, Pierce, Pend Oreille, Skamania, Spokane, Stevens, Whitman and Yakima counties.

“These grants are possible because of the successful banquets and fundraisers staged over the past year by our Washington volunteers—most of whom are elk hunters as well as devoted conservationists,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “Since 1984, our annual grants have helped complete 433 different projects in Washington with a combined value of more than $101 million.”

RMEF grants will help fund the following projects, listed by county:

Asotin County—Reduce decadent grasses and improve elk forage by prescribed burning 932 acres in the Dry Fork area of Umatilla National Forest; use herbicide to treat noxious weeds on 995 acres and re-seed native grasses on 200 acres in the Lower Grande Ronde River corridor; treat noxious weeds scattered throughout 60,640-acre Blue Mountains Wildlife Area Complex (also affects Garfield and Columbia counties); treat noxious weeds on 300 acres in the Grande Ronde River breaks to improve native forage and encourage elk to use public lands rather than private-land hayfields to the north; treat 250 acres of invasive weeds as part of an early detection rapid response program; treat 425 acres of weeds in the Snake River canyonlands; treat 200 acres of noxious weeds in the Meyer Ridge area.

Ferry County—
Prescribed burn 550 acres of elk winter range to reduce hazardous fuels and improve grasses, forbs and shrubs in Colville National Forest.

Kittitas County—Provide funding for Green Dot Access Management Program projects managed by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (also affects Chelan, King, Jefferson, Pierce and Yakima counties).

Pacific County—Improve forage for elk, dusky Canada geese and other wildlife by treating noxious weeds, cultivating, applying lime, fertilizing, seeding and mowing on 200 acres at Chinook Wildlife Area.

Pend Oreille County—Enhance meadow habitat for elk by thinning 96 acres of encroaching forest and installing fencing to protect aspen stands in the Pend Oreille Valley area of Colville National Forest; prescribed burn 200 acres to improve forage in the Upper Middle Fork of Calispell Creek area of Colville National Forest; rejuvenate browse species by prescribed burning 90 acres in the Lost Creek area of Colville National Forest.

Skamania County—Thin encroaching conifers on 617 acres to promote forage for elk and other wildlife in the Wind River area of Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

Spokane County—Capture and radio-collar 20 elk for a research project to study elk movement patterns and habitat use in response to a new hunt program at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge (also affects Whitman and Lincoln counties).

Stevens County—Prescribed burn 200 acres to reduce conifers and improve grassland habitat for elk in Colville National Forest.

Projects are selected for RMEF grants by a committee of volunteers and staff along with representatives from partnering organizations. Partners for 2010 projects in Washington include Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Forest Service, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, other agencies, tribes, corporations and landowners.

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 5.7 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.