Ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

25,000 Reasons to Give Thanks

"No one who achieves success does so without the help of others.”
Alfred North Whitehead

Those words ring especially true at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. We are grateful for volunteers, members, supporters, sponsors, outdoorsmen and women, and all others who assist us in carrying out our shared mission to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

The bottom line is we at the RMEF have many, many things to be grateful for. Among the latest is a $25,000 donation from our friends at Nationwide Insurance. RMEF received the most votes in Nationwide’s month-long Preserve Your Passion contest so we’re sending out our gratitude for all those who supported us in the voting. And a special THANK YOU to Nationwide for creating the contest and garnering more awareness and support for land and wildlife conservation!

RMEF also wishes to thank and congratulate the supporters and followers of our sister conservation organizations who are also doing wonderful things to benefit conservation from coast to coast. 

As John F. Kennedy, our 35th president once said, "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them." 

And that’s exactly what we will continue to do!

Happy Independence Day

RMEF family,

It may seem fairly redundant but simply put there is no holiday that is more American than Independence Day. 

July 4th commemorates America’s official adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, which declared the United States’ independence from Great Britain. 

This holiday calls us all to honor the freedoms we all enjoy. Our freedom should not be taken lightly or for granted. Much was sacrificed for us to enjoy the freedom and independence we have. Let’s honor it and protect it for all who follow us.

On behalf of all of us at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, have a safe and enjoyable Independence Day.


M. David Allen
RMEF President/CEO

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Senate Appropriations Bill Takes Positive Steps to Improve Wildfire Disaster Funding

Below is a news release issued by The Nature Conservancy regarding wildfire disaster funding. Key to this effort is language that allows for access to the disaster cap.

Senate Appropriations Bill Takes Positive Steps to Improve Wildfire Disaster Funding

June 22, 2015 (Arlington, Va.) — The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved its FY2016 appropriations measure yesterday. In addition to ensuring wildfire suppression activities are fully funded in FY2016, the bill provides a disaster cap adjustment for wildfire fighting activities, which would fund certain wildfires similarly to other natural disasters.

The bill will be available for consideration by the full Senate Committee on Appropriations tomorrow. 

“The Senate’s Interior appropriations bill takes a significant step forward in helping to solve the fire funding problem, by funding a portion of wildfires like other natural disasters,” said Cecilia Clavet of The Nature Conservancy, on behalf of the Fire Suppression Funding Solutions Partner Caucus. “We are grateful for the leadership of subcommittee’s Chairwoman Murkowski, Ranking Member Udall and other committee members for helping break the “fire borrowing’ cycle which would allow agencies to focus more resources on important work such as reducing wildfire risk.”

Quotes from some of the many organizations supporting the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act:
“We applaud the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies for including important language on wildfire funding. The bill would not only provide emergency relief funding to protect our communities from more frequent and severe wildfires, but would also ensure that fire funding does not impact urgently needed resources for recreation infrastructure on federal lands - the crux of our local economies.” – Diana Madson, Executive Director of the Mountain Pact

“We are very pleased that the Subcommittee recognizes in their Bill, the reality that large wildfires are natural disasters, and should be funded as such. We are hopeful Congress as a whole will act to improve the health of the nation's forests, by taking similar action.” – Hank Kashdan, Legislative Director, National Association of Forest Service Retirees

“We applaud Senator Murkowski for her leadership in including critical fire cap adjustment language in the Senate Interior Appropriations bill. This is an important step in stopping future transfers and ensuring needed active forest management work is accomplished to improve the resiliency of our forests to uncharacteristic wildfire.” – Jay Farrell, Executive Director of the National Association of State Foresters

“Nearly 14,000 cabin owners on the National Forests are acutely affected by the threat and reality of wildfires. They applaud this very positive step towards improving wildfire suppression and more reasonable funding of wildfire fighting efforts.” – Aubrey King, Washington Representative for the National Forest Homeowners

“We appreciate the Subcommittee’s efforts on this important issue. Congress can stop fire borrowing and its harmful effects this year. Our forests and forestry professionals should not have to wait any longer for responsible and stable budgeting.” – Bob Alverts, President of the Society of American Foresters

“Providing access to disaster funding for emergency wildfires is a tremendous step forward in addressing this fire funding problem. It will limit the practice of ‘fire borrowing’ and therefore help make sure forest, recreation, and conservation programs do not suffer when suppression funds are depleted. We hope the House bill will follow suit, and look forward to working with the full Congress on a solution to this urgent and critical problem.” -- Kameran Onley, Director of U.S. Government Relations for The Nature Conservancy

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Artist Uses Deere to Create Elk

Courtesy Steel Pond Studios
What do you get when you have an old John Deere tractor, a couple of rifles, some used Honda motorcycle parts, a few axes and scores of hand tools? If you’re an artist with a creative flair, you apparently have all the makings for one of the largest and heaviest elk in the world.

Facebook follower Jason Spencer forwarded us this tale from the Pacific Northwest. It was his responsibility to load the approximately 6,800-pound beast onto his 14-foot trailer for a trip north from Hillsboro, Oregon, to the greater Seattle area. From there a 100-foot crane lifted and loaded it onto a barge in Kenmore (see video below) for transportation. 

The 20-mile water route began at the northern tip of Lake Washington, passed the University of Washington before continuing across Lake Union, floated through the Ballard Locks and into Shilshole Bay before heading south in the Puget Sound to its final destination at a waterfront home in Magnolia, the second largest neighborhood of Seattle. 

Courtesy Steel Pond Studios
Artist Travis Pond of Portland spent the last eight years working on it. His website, Steel Pond Studios, features a wide array of creative metal products including sculptures of birds, beasts and fish as well as garden work, chairs and tables, benches, railing and security, and other items. 

Pond’s online biography provides personal insight into why and how he carries out the artistic work that he does.

“Half of what I do is collecting materials. I look for objects with significance and meaning, objects that have connections to us as individuals and as a whole. The scraps I use are a part of our human history.

“For me, the question is never where to start; it is always when to stop. It is a constant look beyond the object, beyond the form, to what is next. Each circumstance, or in this case, each piece, spontaneously connects to the next.

“This seemingly random assortment of metal dictates its future in a very fast and spontaneous manner. Although I control the welds, the individual objects refuse to be forced into form. The sculpture decides for itself what it will look like and when it is complete.”
Robert Jefferson Travis Pond

In this case, that translates into a massive elk about 12 feet tall that gained a lot of attention as it turned heads and raised eyebrows during its migration to its new Washington home.

But that begs one obvious question: Why an elk?

“(Travis) is a hunter too. As a hunter, he has that respect for the animal. What he likes about the elk is what it represents,” said Bryan Ohno, Pond’s business partner and owner of Bryan Ohno Gallery.

Travis Pond
“I thought it was really cool and right down RMEF's alley,” wrote Spencer. “I have been a huge fan since I was a youngster and I'm proud to share this experience with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation family.”

Pre-finished product (courtesy Steel Pond Studios)

The final resting place

Team Effort Leads to Improved Michigan Elk Country

Pigeon River Country State Forest
There is strength in numbers and elk and elk habitat are the big winners in Michigan because of it. Volunteers from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation recently teamed up with the Michigan United Conservation Club (MUCC) to help the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) form a volunteer force of 45 strong who planted about 800 native trees in the Pigeon River Country State Forest.

“This particular project is our second one with MUCC. It’s very exciting to partner up with them. It’s a great time to be out here,” said Dan Johnson, RMEF Michigan state chair.

“This is a great partnership. We worked with Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation in the past. They supported our initiative to support hunting rights in Michigan from out-of-state anti-hunters and they do a ton of work here for elk in the Pigeon River country, for public land throughout Michigan and habitat throughout the state,” said Drew YoungeDyke, MUCC field manager.

The goal of the project was to establish native plants that will benefit wildlife before any invasive species have an opportunity to encroach in the area and help establish a border between private and public lands. The trees included serviceberry, ninebark, white oak and red oak, which will provide food and cover for elk, deer, grouse and other wildlife. 

Volunteers not only rolled up their sleeves and worked together side-by-side to improve habitat but they also shared a meal and talked about why they work for wildlife as members of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

“I’ve been involved with RMEF for 27 years. It’s a great organization. It does a lot of things for wildlife and does a lot of things for hunters,” said Scott Wheeldon of the RMEF Saginaw Chapter.

“I got involved about 15 years ago. We get out here in the Pigeon and we plant and tear fence down. It’s a great project. We have a great time and we’ll be back again,” said Mark Sommerman, Traverse Bay Chapter co-chair.

“We do the same thing in the fall. In September, we have a rendezvous and we get together to pick a project with the DNR. We get a group of volunteers together and we get that done,” added Johnson.

As another volunteer explained, “This is what sportsmen do—get out and do stuff for wildlife.”

Spoken like a true team member.

Friday, June 19, 2015

“Superhero” Bobsled Run Highlights Habitat Council 2015 Summer Retreat

RMEF Co-Founders Bob Munson (left)
and Charlie Decker
It was just like a scene from The Avengers. Well, sort of. Or was it the Cartoon Channel? Or was it an old-time comic book? Or maybe professional wrestling? However you want to categorize it, this was most infinitely better than any reality TV offering.

There they stood at the top of the bobsled track in Olympic Park—home of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Park City, Utah. Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Co-Founders Charlie Decker and Bob Munson were decked out in their “RMEF Luge Team” racing outfits about to climb on board a bobsled on the same track that 13 years, four months and one week to the day earlier featured the United States women upset heavily-favored German teams to win Olympic gold in front of a roaring American crowd in dramatic style. At the time, it was America’s first gold medal in the Olympic bobsled since 1954. 

This modern day RMEF founders bobsled run, too, was one filled with drama. Bob and Charlie’s sleek racing suits, let alone their competitive spirit, showed they had grand intentions for a chart-topping run down the .8 mile track. With dozens of RMEF members looking on, the founders took their place in the sled, hunkered down behind the driver and received a running push off their starting line. 

The sled screamed down the track, gaining speeds up to 70 miles per hour. The g-force acceleration, measured at about 5.0 g or roughly the same as a top fuel dragster, pushed the founders firmly back into their seated positions as they shot down the high-banked curves. When they roared across the finish line, the scoreboard said it all. Time: 1:01.39. Rank: 1!

That memory-making run was a great way to top off a great 2015 RMEF Summer Habitat Council (HC) Meeting and Retreat. The group gathers each summer to celebrate elk and elk country while helping to further RMEF’s mission, form new friendships and solidify long-lasting ties. In essence, it is much like a college or family reunion.

High West Distillery and Salloon
 The three-day event began with a gathering at the historic High West Distillery and Saloon in the historic downtown area. Built in 1914, the house was originally one of the only two-story Victorian style pyramid homes in Park City. The “National Garage,” home to today’s saloon, was originally a livery stable that serviced the workhouses that pulled heavy ore carts up and down to the mines. As automobiles became popular, the business started servicing cars. When the Silver King Coalition Mines Company building burned down in 1981, the heat was so intense it melted the paint away from several layers of re-painted signs to what you can see today.

HC members visited with each other, partook in heavy hors d’oeuvres, toured the distillery and learned about the intricacies of creating spirits of all sorts. They also had the opportunity to taste several different types of whiskey. 

The first full day in Park City began with a half-day meeting. HC members received mission updates from RMEF executive staff members.

“This is one of our shareholder or stockholder meetings as we view it. We are family. What brings us together is the appreciation we have for what we do,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. 

Chuck Roady
“I want to preserve places for my kids and my grandkids to be able to hunt and enjoy the outdoors. That lies at the core of the RMEF. That’s my passion and is what motivates me,” said Chuck Roady, RMEF chairman of the board. “I think we need to play a more active role in the policies of the government in the states and nationally. We need to take care of our resources and that means managing and utilizing them.”

RMEF Vice President of Lands and Conservation Blake Henning offered a presentation that highlighted recent RMEF conservation projects, mission accomplishment and upcoming land protection, habitat stewardship and access projects.

Blake Henning
Allen also expressed his appreciation for co-chairs Howard and Nancy Holland whose hard work and dedication has elevated the Habitat Council to new levels of activity and philanthropic giving.

“Habitat Council is what each and every one of you wants it to be. Your input is essential to make it the best organization it can be. One hundred percent of us are life members. There are ten couples who are here for the first time. This group is very special to us and we consider you all family,” said Nancy Holland. 

Other topics during the meeting included a review of HC’s strategic plan, various outreach and planned giving seminars as well as an overview of the upcoming field trip. 

An afternoon of free time allowed some HC members to kick up their feet and relax or take a trip to nearby Morgan, Utah, to visit the factory outlet store for Browning. Others shopped in town or headed to Olympic Park to have some fun on the bobsled track, zip line, adventure course or visit the Al Engen and Eccles Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games Museums. 

Vicki and Bob Munson
Marshall Moore
That night, more folks rolled into town for dinner at the Grub Steak Restaurant followed by a presentation by Hollywood insider Marshall Moore. As former director of the Utah Film Commission and long-time location manager for the popular TV series Touched by an Angel, Moore touched on the Utah film industry, Sundance Film Festival and he related several personal stories including memorable face-to-face interactions with Katharine Hepburn and Robert Redford.

The last full day of the retreat began with another highlight–a field trip to the 7,300-acre Seventh Heaven Ranch. RMEF took the lead in negotiating a conservation easement finalized in June of 2000 to permanently protect habitat for the vast array of wildlife that is found on the property including elk, mule deer, moose, bear, lion, fox, coyote, native trout and the threatened greater sage grouse. The property is historic in that the Donner Party, Mormon pioneers and Pony Express all crossed it in the past. The ranch also hosted lunch for the group. 
Hosts Tim & Matt Fenton, Seventh Heaven Ranch, Pony Express station 
The evening wrapped up with Bob and Charlie’s bobsled run at Olympic Park, a reception and private tour of the facility, dinner at the Women’s Start House and remarks delivered by Dave Jarret. Currently head coach of the U.S. Nordic Combined Team, Jarrett was also a member of the U.S. Ski Team from 1992 to 1998 and competed in both the 1994 and 1998 Winter Olympics.
Charlie, Dave Jarrett and Bob
All in all, it was a gold medal-winning kind of weekend for the Habitat Council and the RMEF. Just ask Bob and Charlie!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Happy Father's Day

Dear RMEF Family,

The third Sunday in June is always a special day for many of us—and it should be. It’s a day that is set aside to honor the fathers and father figures in our lives. Father’s Day is Sunday, June 21.

We owe a huge debt of gratitude to our fathers, many of whom introduced us to ethical hunting and the importance of conservation, wildlife and developing an appreciation for the beauty of the land and waters around us. There are many fathers throughout the volunteer and membership ranks of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation who are dedicated to ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. To them we say “thank you” for your love, enthusiasm and dedication.

However you plan to spend the weekend, whether fishing, hiking, camping or just grilling up some venison on the barbeque, let’s honor our fathers for all they have done for us.


M. David Allen
RMEF President/CEO