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

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Buzzed to Benefit Elk Country

Cinfio (left) and Bob Munson
Ralph Cinfio knew something was up. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s vice president of Fundraising Services recently visited St. Cloud, Minnesota, for the 25th big game banquet anniversary of the Northern Lights Royal Chapter. RMEF co-founders Bob Munson and Charlie Decker were also on hand and that, in itself, spelled “trouble” for Cinfio.

You see, it was some 12 years earlier in the same town at the same banquet that Cinfio walked away with a freshly shaven head. The loss of his hair was the RMEF’s gain to the tune of $4,443.

“I was pretty nervous about it back then because I was part of a wedding scheduled to take place just two months later,” Cinfio recalled. “It turned out to be just fine though because it involved a lot of military personnel and I fit right in with the new hair style.”

Decker shows his barber "skills"
Fast forward to 2015 and Ralph’s return to St. Cloud where a déjà vu kind of challenge murmured its way through the crowd. Before he knew it, he found himself up on stage in front of everyone with two more-than-eager RMEF co-founders hovering over him with shaving shears in hand. Munson and Decker got the “green light” after banquet attendees ponied up $3,700 for them to do the deed. 

"Bob was like a kid in a candy store and Charlie said ‘Hey, save me some hair!’ He then gave me a nice, tidy reverse mohawk,” said Cinfio.

Thanks Ralph for literally putting your head (and your hair) on the line—all to help ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

Go here to find an RMEF banquet near you.

Cinfio, holding a photo of his Northern Lights Royal Chapter haircut from 12 years earlier,
gets a comforting kiss from wife Jodie

Monday, March 23, 2015

Idaho Drivers Can Soon Show Their RMEF Pride

If you want something bad enough and you work hard enough, you can make it happen. That’s exactly the lesson learned by hard-working volunteers and members of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation in the state of Idaho. Thanks to the execution of an idea coupled with support, determination and follow-through, Idaho will become the seventh state to have an RMEF license plate.

Representative Clark Kauffman (R-Filer) sponsored the measure in the House Transportation Committee where, thanks to input and testimony provided by RMEF volunteers and staffers, it passed without a dissenting vote. The bill then successfully weaved its way through the different legislative chambers until it found itself on the governor’s desk where Butch Otter signed it into law on March 5, 2015.

Below is a submission by Rep. Kauffman taken from the March 6th edition of the Idaho Legislative Highlights newsletter.

“This week I met with Governor Otter as he signed HB 44, legislation that creates an Idaho license plate for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF). The mission of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. The Elk Foundation is a leader in wildlife conservation, with a tremendous track record of conservation and land protection around the country and here in Idaho. This new license plate will help the foundation raise the necessary funds to further their mission.”

The new RMEF license plates are expected to be ready for Idaho drivers sometime this summer. The exact design is yet to be finalized.

Treasure Valley Chapter Chair John Aultman, Treasure Valley Chapter Chair Dale Morehouse,
Idaho Governor Butch Otter, Rep. Clark Kauffman, Southern Idaho Chair Jameson Sharp,
Regional Director Colin Hickman and RMEF Board of Director Dennis Rodocha
(left to right)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Improvements on the Way for Oregon Elk Habitat

Below is a complete listing of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s 2015 grants for the state of Oregon. Find more information here.

Crook County—Thin juniper on 450 acres and burn 767 acres that were thinned in 2014 to promote native grasses and enhance the bitterbrush and sagebrush steppe habitat on elk, mule deer and pronghorn winter range as well as greater sage-grouse habitat on the Ochoco National Forest (also affects Grant County).

Douglas County—Create eight acres of forage openings and maintain an additional 34 acres of forage openings to help address declining Roosevelt elk populations in southwestern Oregon that will also assist black-tailed deer, black bear, ruffed grouse as well as other birds and mammals on the Umpqua National Forest.

Grant County—Treat 450 acres of weed infestations across a 13,000 acre landscape that includes crucial winter range to complement an ongoing program of spring development, forage openings, fuels reduction and wet meadow protection on private land that allows public hunting adjacent to the Bridge Creek Wildlife Management Area; spray 11,000 acres and drill seed 4,200 acres on the Phillip W. Schneider Wildlife Area on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands which burned in a 2014 wildfire; and thin 100 acres of overstocked lodgepole pine stands to improve forage on summer range with high elk use southeast of Fish Lake on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.

Harney County—Rehabilitate and protect a rare, 40-acre wet meadow along Alder Creek in the Stinkingwater Mountains by constructing a series of engineered check dams and fill to stabilize and rehab the stream channel. In addition, a 110-acre exclosure will be built to keep livestock out of the meadow. The nearest wetland of this size and type is located more than 41 air miles away.

Jackson County—Apply prescribed underburning to 425 acres on the western slope of the southern Cascade Mountains in a recently commercially thinned area to jumpstart early seral recruitment in order to increase forage quality and quantity for elk on yearlong habitat on the Rogue River National Forest. The project will also reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire within the municipal watershed for Medford which provides clean water to approximately 80,000 residents in the Rogue Valley.

Lake County—Thin 800 acres within aspen stands in a larger project area to reduce conifers and improve habitat on elk summer range and calving areas within the South Warner Mountains on the Fremont-Winema National Forest; restore 178 acres of meadow, aspen and riparian habitat by utilizing prescribed fire to improve grass and herbaceous forage and increase vigor and recruitment of aspen within the Coyote Creek area on the Freemont National Forest (also affects Klamath County); and thin encroaching conifers and junipers from 1,155 acres in the Middle Drews Creek and Lower Hay Creek subwatersheds in the Drews Creek Watershed on the Fremont National Forest to assist aspen stands affected by decades of fire suppression.

Lane County—Improve 209 acres of elk habitat in the Foley Ridge area on the Willamette National Forest through a combination of herbicide treatments, conifer thinning, seeding and prescribed burning; burn 100 acres and thin 200 additional acres on the Middle Fork Ranger District to restore over-stocked pine plantations back to historic open pine savannah to improve forage quality and quantity for Roosevelt elk and deer; and continue a forage enhancement project involving prescribed fire, seeding, noxious weed treatment and cutting back browse to encourage sprouting on the Willamette National Forest adjacent to private land and the Tokatee Golf Course to lure elk and deer off private land.

Linn County—Enhance subalpine meadows being encroached by conifers due to a lack of fire by using tree felling, tree girdling, browse cutback and seed collection across 300 acres to benefit two meadows that serve as elk and black-tailed deer migration corridors on the Willamette National Forest. More than 200 species of flowering plants, including sensitive plant species, are found here as well as a large diversity of butterflies and other pollinators.

Tillamook County—Clear non-native and encroaching vegetation on 135 acres of meadows scattered across the Hebo Ranger District of the Siuslaw National Forest to improve forage for Roosevelt elk and other meadow dependent species (also affects Lincoln and Yamhill Counties).

Union County—Treat noxious weeds on 622 acres of elk winter range and calving areas on private land protected by an RMEF conservation easement adjacent to the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Management Area; install boulder blockades and update two gates to reinforce road closures that were enacted 25 years ago to provide secure habitat within an area critical to maintaining population objectives and bull-cow ratios in the Horseshoe Prairie area on the Umatilla National Forest. In addition, roadbeds will be seeded to maintain a forage base as part of a project to benefit approximately 2,700 acres of forest habitat that is a mix of spring and critical summer habitat; and thin 400 acres to reduce the density of young conifer trees to increase forage availability for elk on public lands in the Blue Mountain’s Ladd Canyon area on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.

Wallowa County—Apply low intensity burning on 500 acres within the Chesnimnus Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. The project is part of 10-year burn program creating a mosaic of habitat across 12,751 acres of elk transition and critical summer range where calf recruitment is poor and the distribution of elk across seasonal ranges is very poor; and treat 150 acres of noxious weeds on the Umatilla National forest and private lands in the Wenaha River watershed through the Wallowa Canyonlands Partnership to improve forage on crucial winter and summer range (also affects Asotin, Columbia and Garfield Counties in Washington).

Conservation projects are selected for grants using science-based criteria and a committee of RMEF volunteers and staff along with representatives from partnering agencies and universities.

Partners for the Oregon projects include the Fremont-Winema, Ochoco, Rogue River-Siskiyou, Umatilla, Umpqua, Wallowa-Whitman and Willamette National Forests, Bureau of Land Management, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, private landowners and various sportsmen, wildlife, civic, tribal and government organizations.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Rodeo Princess, Young RMEF Member Pays It Forward

Lexi Daugherty
(Teton County Fair and Royalty
Facebook page)
Ask 15-year old Alexa (Lexi) Daugherty of Game Creek, Wyoming, to define ‘magic,’ and you may be surprised by her answer. She will tell you it is the look on a tourist’s face the first time they attend a rodeo or pose for a picture with her and her horse,Trouble, along a parade route.

Lexi will also tell you it’s the abundant wildlife and incredible scenery that draw millions of people to Teton County every year, and that those people leave with vivid memories that last a lifetime. She understands Western traditions and natural landscapes make Teton County a great place to visit and a special place to live.

She also does her part to ensure their future through her volunteerism as a rodeo princess and her advocacy for land conservation. Lexi knows conserving and enhancing habitat is an important part of the ‘magic’ equation that benefits residents and visitors alike. 

In January 2015, Lexi won an award for volunteer service from the community organization Soroptimist of Jackson Hole. It required that she ‘pay it forward’ and donate one half of the $1,000 in winnings to a non-profit of her choice. Lexi chose the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

Lexi (left) presents $500 to RMEF Lands Program Manager Leah Burgess
“I looked for an organization whose goals will help protect the magic for our visitors and our residents,” Lexi wrote in her Soroptimist essay. “Wildlife and scenic vistas are the primary reasons people visiting this community give for why they think this place is special. [RMEF] protects wildlife and their habitat which protects the magic that we and all of our visitors value so much.”

If you have not guessed by now, Lexi is a member of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, as are other members of her family.

“Lexi is an avid horsewoman, hunter, and community member who embodies what it means to be an engaged young citizen of the West,” said Leah Burgess, RMEF lands program manager for Wyoming. “It is impressive at such a young age that she is actively promoting the western lifestyle through rodeo, hunting and conservation, and she is making a difference in her local and international communities by sharing her passion with others. We are truly honored to be the recipient of Lexi’s donation.”

“I learned in my Hunters Safety class that habitat loss and fragmentation are the greatest threat to our wildlife today. My hope is that by supporting the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, they will help us conserve this special place so that future generations can experience the magic I feel.”

Leah Burgess
RMEF Lands Program Manager (Wyo.)

Lexi (second from the right), her father, and Wyoming Game and Fish staff tour a property
Lexi hunts in Teton County

Monday, March 16, 2015

Pennsylvanian Wins 2014 Yamaha Great Elk Tour Sweepstakes

Rick and his new ride
The Great Elk Tour covered more than 65,000 miles in 2014 as it spread a message of conservation, hunting, education, ethics and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation's mission to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

Along the way, it offered an opportunity for attendees to assist RMEF's mission by entering a drawing for a Yamaha Grizzly 700 4x4 EPS and an additional $500 in Yamaha accessories.

Rick Fritz from Latrobe, Pennsylvania, was thrilled to find out his name was drawn as the winner.

Just so you know, the Great Elk Tour is in the midst of its 2015 nationwide schedule. And thanks to our conservation partners at Yamaha, if you catch us somewhere on the road you can once again make a two-dollar donation that places your name in the hopper to win another ATV. The winner will be drawn in early 2016.

Thanks to all for your support of elk, conservation and the RMEF!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Scientific Research Speaks Loudly: Hunting Is Conservation

A new study published by the Journal of Wildlife Management indicates that hunting is among two recreational activities that inspire people to support conservation. The other is birdwatching. Perhaps the words of study co-author Ashley Dayer of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology best sum up the results, “There is hope for conservation in rural communities through both binoculars and bullets.”

The research focused on the activity of those who live in rural, Upstate New York and took into account a wide range of characteristics such as age, beliefs about the environment, education, gender and political ideology. What resulted was a finding that hunters and birdwatchers are 3-to-5 times more likely to engage in conservation behaviors. 

“The differences between wildlife recreationists and non-recreationists were most pronounced among a distinctive set of activities,” lead study author Caren Cooper, assistant director of the Biodiversity Research Lab at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, wrote in an independent blog. “Only birdwatchers and hunters carried out conservation activities that required a high level of commitment, such as habitat restoration, joining local (conservation) groups, engaging in advocacy for wildlife recreation and donating money to conservation.”

Ryan Hagerty/U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
"Managers often discuss direct and indirect links between wildlife recreation and conservation," said study co-author Lincoln Larson, assistant professor in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management at Clemson University. "Our findings not only validate this connection, but reveal the unexpected strength of the conservation-recreation relationship."

What really raised researchers’ eyebrows were the contributions of individuals who identified themselves as both hunters and birdwatchers. On average, this group was about eight times more likely than non-recreationists to engage in conservation.

"We set out to study two groups -- birdwatchers and hunters -- and didn't anticipate the importance of those who do both, and wildlife managers probably didn't either," said Cooper. "We don't even have a proper name for these conservation superstars other than hunter-birdwatchers."

Wildlife agencies already fully recognize that hunters do their part in funding conservation. Hunters raised more than $7.2 billion to fund conservation efforts since the self-imposed implementation of a 1937 excise tax on hunting ammunition and equipment. They also generate nearly $800 million annually through the purchase of state hunting licenses and fees and donate an additional $440 million each year to conservation groups like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

“The next steps are to figure out how to tap birdwatchers to harness and apply their interest in conservation,” added Cooper. “Will it be through a conservation tax on binoculars, bird feeders and field guides? Will it be through more citizen science? Suggestions welcome!”

Hunters will continue to do their part.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

New Life Member Wins RMEF Sweepstakes, Stands Ready to Help Hunting Partner

Shawn Lucas didn’t become a life member of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to win prizes. He joined because he believes in its mission to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. But winning RMEF’s most recent sweepstakes turned out to be icing on the cake.

Like scores of other members, Lucas, who became a life member last September, opened a mailing he received from RMEF headquarters later in 2014. It announced the RMEF Fall ’14 Sweepstakes—an opportunity to donate toward RMEF’s mission while having a chance to win the Ambush iS 4x4 hybrid from Bad Boy Buggies or one of 14 firearms.

Shawn filled it out and mailed it, and RMEF recently notified him that he was drawn as the grand prize winner. As you might expect, he was surprised and thrilled. But as his email to us below indicates, he plans on using his new prize to help a friend.

“I was able to pick up my Buggie on Monday. I thought it appropriate to wear my life member attire! Thank you so much for this wonderful prize. I look forward to many happy years of enjoyment with this vehicle in the woods. My primary hunting buddy is handicapped so it has always been a challenge to get him into the woods without disturbing wildlife. With this whisper-quiet electric motor, he’ll be able to sneak in with much less disturbance and hopefully result in better success rates for him.”

Congratulations Shawn! And congratulations to the other 14 winners, all of whom have been notified. As you can see here, the 15 winners came from 11 different states. 

Our thanks go out to everyone who entered the sweepstakes as the dollars donated will help RMEF continue to magnify its mission.

Shawn and his new Bad Boy Buggie