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

Monday, December 30, 2013

RMEF Opens 13,000 Acres of Oregon Elk Country, Secures Public Access to Public Lands

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation headed up a successful collaborative effort to permanently protect and open access to 13,082 acres in the Headwaters of the John Day River in northeast Oregon. By purchasing the land and conveying it to the United States at a bargain sale price, the transaction also secures and improves access to tens of thousands of acres of publicly-owned National Forest System lands.

“This is a victory for hunter-conservationists, anglers, hikers and anyone who wants public access to more than 13,000 acres of what was previously inaccessible private land in the heart of Oregon’s elk country,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “We are grateful to a family that understands the importance of conserving crucial elk habitat and wildlife management while also providing a way for improved access to a landscape loaded with numerous vital resource values.” 

"My husband loved the outdoors and hunting," said JoAnne Johnson, wife of D.R. Johnson and co-owner of D.R. Johnson Lumber Company. "Don always felt that ultimately blocking up our sections with the Forest Service property made the most sense. It is the family's hope and desire that now this beautiful and unique area will remain accessible for hunters, fishermen, and all outdoorsmen, and that it will receive some much needed forest management as well. It is a bittersweet moment for us, but we believe Don would want the citizens of Grant County to be able to enjoy this amazing property for generations to come."

The acreage, which was a vast checkerboard ownership pattern of alternating private and public sections south of Prairie City, is now consolidated into one mass block of public ownership under management of the U.S. Forest Service (see map below). It is located in the Strawberry Mountains on the Malheur National Forest. 

“This is wonderful news,” said Pacific Northwest Regional Forester Kent Connaughton. “It’s a huge present for the people of Oregon and the nation. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is to be congratulated for inspiring and leading this key project.”

“The project area covers a 40-mile landscape around the origin and main stem of the John Day River as it flows north to the Columbia River and provides crucial linkage with existing public lands and all-important wildlife corridors,” said Blake Henning, RMEF vice president of Lands and Conservation. 

The Headwaters not only provide first-class habitat for elk but also for mule deer, black bears, pronghorn, mountain goats, grouse, quail and a host of other wildlife. Four federally listed birds and four federally listed mammal species of concern inhabit the property. The area is also of critical importance to salmon, steelhead, bull trout, redband and westslope cutthroat trout due to the cold water inputs the headwater tributaries provide to the John Day River. 

“The most important aspect of this transaction is the entire project area is no longer threatened by development,” said Allen. “And not only is new land available to the public, but public access to existing federal land will be improved and new links can be made to existing trails.” 

RMEF partners include the D.R. Johnson family, the U.S. Forest Service and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
RMEF is a leading conservation organization that protected or enhanced habitat on more than 6.3 million acres—an area larger than Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Glacier, Yosemite, Rocky Mountain and Great Smoky Mountains national parks combined. RMEF also is a strong voice for hunters in access, wildlife management and conservation policy issues. RMEF members, partners and volunteers, working together as Team Elk, are making a difference all across elk country. Join us at www.rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Holiday Wishes from David Allen

Dear RMEF Family,

Where did 2013 go? This has been a great year for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Thanks to the hard work of our volunteers nationwide and our dedicated staff, we enhanced and conserved more vital habitat across elk country. And thanks to your continuing support, we also opened and secured public access to more elk country for hunters and others to enjoy. 

The bottom-line is Santa has been good to us in 2013. Christmas truly is a special time of year. Millions and millions will revel in the good tidings of great joy we feel this season. It is a time to show love and appreciation to those around us. 

I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to my wife, my two boys, my friends and my RMEF family. I cherish those special relationships that so enrich my life. I am also grateful to be a small part of this growing army of conservationists who strive daily to enhance the future of elk and other wildlife. Together, we are doing great things for elk and elk country while strengthening and passing on our hunting tradition. 

Lastly, I want to wish each and every one of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Take advantage of the holiday season to express sincere gratitude to loved ones and our Maker for the many blessings in our lives. And as for 2014, bring it on. It’s going to be another great year! 


M. David Allen
RMEF President/CEO

Monday, November 25, 2013

Giving Thanks

Dear RMEF Family,

We live in an ever-evolving, fast-paced world. Technology is changing by leaps and bounds and most of us seem to be wrapped up in more activities than ever before. One thing that should not and must not change is our recognition of all the many blessings we enjoy, especially when the day set aside to do just that is poached more and more by the hustle and bustle of Black Friday. 

President George Washington proclaimed the first nationwide Thanksgiving celebration in America marking November 26, 1789, "as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God." Can it be stated any better than that?

We are a blessed people and we need to slow down a moment, especially this Thanksgiving holiday if not always, and recognize that. Ours is a free and bounteous country. I am thankful for my wife, my two boys, my friends and my RMEF family. I am grateful to be part of this grand conservation effort to enhance the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. I recognize and so appreciate the efforts of RMEF volunteers and members from coast-to-coast. Together, we are doing great things for elk and elk country while fortifying and passing on our hunting tradition. 

As you gather this Thanksgiving season, pause with me to look around, let it all sink in, give thanks and express sincere gratitude to loved ones and our Maker for the many blessings in each of our lives. 


M. David Allen
RMEF President/CEO

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

RMEF Helps Mississippi Town Still on the Mend

Alice Ortiz/Monroe Journal
It’s just a check. It’s also a morale boost for a small Mississippi town of just 857 residents nearly wiped off the map by a tornado in 2011. 

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation recently awarded a $2,500 grant for Smithville High School to purchase equipment to begin a new archery program. The school now has the financial backing to take part in the Archery in Mississippi Schools or AIMS program which is designed to introduce archery to participants in grades 4-12. 

A powerful EF-5 tornado, nearly three miles tall and half a mile wide with winds in excess of 200 miles an hour, roared through town on April 27, 2011, killing 17 people, and destroying 80 percent of the town including 153 homes, 14 of Smithville’s 16 businesses, and leveling the school campus, which serves about 600 students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. The death toll reached 339 across a seven state region, making the storm outbreak the deadliest in the nation since 1925. 
Locals rallied by picking up the pieces to rebuild their homes, their lives and their school. Construction on campus includes a new tornado-proof dome, the first of its kind in Mississippi that will double as a gymnasium and rec complex. Once completed, chances are it will also be home to flying arrows and archery targets. RMEF is happy to assist the community heal in just a small way by helping establish a new program for its youth.

WTVW/Drew Powell
“We are a conservation organization and raise money to support the different conservation education programs. I talked to Mississippi about their AIMS program and they referred us to Smithville. They asked for help and we delivered,” RMEF Regional Director Randy Waterhouse told the Monroe Journal, “We are thrilled to help kick archery off here in Smithville.”

“We are happy to have archery at Smithville,” said Jill Horne, archery instructor. “Your donation will go a long way in helping us get the equipment we need.”

Monday, November 11, 2013

Access Granted!

“Access Provided by RMEF.” That is what the sign reads in north-central California’s elk country. A committee member from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s Mendo-Lake Chapter came across it while out in the wild. The sign stands in stark contrast to many other signs – "No Trespassing," "Do Not Enter," etc. – found across the country.

In a day and age when both elk habitat and access to land is decreasing, RMEF is stepping up efforts to open and secure public access. In fact, public access is at the heart of RMEF’s mission. Since 1984, RMEF opened and/or secured public access to more than 667,000 acres of land across the country. 

Courtesy Kevin Root
Take this specific piece of California, for example. RMEF’s acquisition of the Indian Creek property, thanks to a generous donation by the late Ted Martin, linked together two existing parcels of public land owned by the Bureau of Land Management and provided access to an area that was not previously available to the public. It’s also critical habitat used by more than 100 Tule elk year-round, a vital calving grounds, and is also one of the best and most popular places to view elk in all of California. RMEF acquired the 231-acre tract from a private landowner with a goal to transfer it into public ownership. The BLM is already managing the property and will assume ownership in a couple of years.

So here’s to public access! And securing more of it!

Indian Creek, California

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Giving Thanks for Our Veterans

Dear RMEF Family,

History always gives us a good perspective not only where we’ve been but what we have today and what our future holds tomorrow. Let’s keep that in mind as we celebrate Veterans Day on Monday, November 11, 2013. 

There is great significance to the fact that Veterans Day falls on November 11. Veterans Day, or Armistice Day and Remembrance Day as it’s referred to in other parts of the world, is observed to mark the end of World War I which formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 when the armistice with Germany took effect. 

When President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed Armistice Day for November 11, 1919, he said, "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”

There is no more special group of Americans among us than our veterans. They literally put their lives on the line to defend and protect the many freedoms we enjoy as individuals and as an RMEF family. To them – many of whom are family members, friends, RMEF volunteers, staffers and members – we thank you for your dedication to and sacrifices for our great nation.


RMEF President/CEO

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Personal Testimonial of Conservation, RMEF

Below is a reprint of an article by Edward Gramza IV from HuntingLife.com.

My take on Conservation by Edward Gramza IV

Teddy Roosevelt
Edward Gramza IV
Theodore Roosevelt once said, “In a civilized and cultivated country, wild animals only continue to exist at all when preserved by sportsmen.” This is true more today than ever before. The fact that people are expanding their presence throughout the country, the wild areas where animals reside is constantly shrinking. Without the help of conservation groups and sportsmen, more of the animals we pursue as prey would be scarcer. 

Roosevelt was an avid hunter and member of the Rough Riders. However, Roosevelt was also an advocate for the preservation of animals and wild places. During his years as President, he was instrumental in the formation of numerous National Parks and National Monuments. Roosevelt saw the value in preservation and conservation for the benefit of future generations. In 1905, Roosevelt used his authority as president to protect wild animals and public lands by creating the U.S. Forest Service.

Fast forward to today, and you have a countless number of local and national conservation groups. A few of the most popular include the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, Safari Club International, and the National Wild Turkey Federation. The one thing that these groups advocate is the preservation of both game animals and their habitat. A large portion of the funds that are raised go towards reintroduction programs and rehabilitation of current and historical ranges. Funds are raised through donations, auctions, membership fees, local banquets, and sales of merchandise. 

Kentucky elk release
One group that I personally support is the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Every year I renew my membership and attend a local banquet. The RMEF has local chapters throughout the country and raises millions of dollars each year. In turn, RMEF uses these funds to help states pay for reintroduction efforts along with habitat protection. Since 1984, the RMEF has protected over 6 million acres of land throughout the country that is open to sportsman to pursue their next trophy.

In 1996, the RMEF pledged $1.4 million to reintroduce elk to eastern Kentucky. Currently there is a population in the state of over 10,000 elk. Starting in 2001 Kentucky started a hunting program by selling 12 tags to harvest an elk. Now Kentucky has a very successful hunting program within the state and a very sought after tag by both residents and non-residents. Other states throughout the country are gradually increasing their elk herds with the help of the RMEF in hopes of having limited hunting seasons.

Kentucky today
One of the most important aspects of conservation is regulated hunting efforts. Hunting is a way of helping to control animal numbers and prevent over population. While anti-hunting groups feel that hunting is animal cruelty, the true act of cruelty would be to allow populations to explode which would lead to starvation and over grazing of the natural habitat. This in turn would cause more animals to die of starvation than the number of animals that are taken during legal hunting seasons. 

In 1939, the federal government introduced an excise tax on all hunting and fishing equipment. The money generated from this tax is distributed to state agencies that fund protection to hunted and non-hunted species. With sportsman and hunters paying the excise tax, it helps to generate hundreds of millions of dollars each year for state and local conservation efforts.

With what Theodore Roosevelt said many years ago, we as hunters and sportsman have an ethical duty to preserve both animals and the habitat they inhabit. Without the efforts of many organizations and government agencies, hunting would not exist as it does today. If left unregulated, most game animals would go the way of the buffalo. Only through conservation organizations and support by sportsmen and women can we continue to enjoy hunting as we know it today.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Celebrating New Access to Central Montana’s Elk Country

It was only fitting. The October sunshine streamed down and warmed more than five dozen people who gathered in the remote Big Snowy Mountains of central Montana to celebrate a transaction that will positively affect generations of hunters in years to come. 

“Opening up access to 18,000 acres of public land through a 40-acre parcel like this is one of the crowning achievements for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and our members,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “It’s a true payback to our members who put so much time and effort into the organization and it lets them have access to some of the most incredible country in central Montana.”

Allen made those comments moments after taking part in a dedication ceremony of the Red Hill project along with RMEF volunteers, members and staffers as well as federal, state and local government leaders, landowners, ranchers and others. As he thanked all those involved with the project, he spoke respectfully about one person they probably never met and did not know, but a man whose influence and passion for RMEF and elk country rings as strong as ever despite his passing many years earlier.

Bob Torstenson would be so proud to know resources he provided to us are directly responsible for this project and many projects that will follow like this. And I mean directly responsible. We did not sell this back to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks for the same amount we bought it for by design. The state didn’t have the budget and we didn’t care. That’s not what it was about. We were glad to take a loss, quote-unquote, on paper because the gain is so much bigger on the ground, and all in the name of the Torstenson family. I know Bob Torstenson would be extremely proud his legacy will live on in a piece of property like this,” said Allen.

After the unveiling of a sign marking the occasion, many of those on hand headed up the trail to make their way to the Lewis and Clark National Forest—the first time in years such a hike was even possible.

“This project is pretty special to me because it’s really the first true access project I’ve been involved with at the Elk Foundation in my 6-plus years of being here,” said Allen. “This is the first one I can actually reach out and touch and say we did this with our resources and we did it immediately and we opened up 18,000 acres of public land that was otherwise pretty inaccessible.”

The entire project came together and was finalized in just a matter of weeks, and marks a blueprint of what is to come.

“There are projects like this across the West and we’re out looking for them and we’re going to make them a high priority to keep his hunting culture alive and make it easier and better for the hunter-members of ours and the nonmembers who really support our wildlife system and believe in public land hunting. This is critical to us and something we should all be proud of,” Allen added.

Big Snowy Mountains elk

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Hunters Motivated by Meat, Elk Does a Body Good

Why do you hunt? New research conducted by Responsive Management shows more of us arise well before the crack of dawn and head into the woods, mountains, prairies or to a favorite stretch of water in a quest to fill the freezer.

Researchers conducting the scientific nationwide telephone survey reached out to Americans 18 years of age and older and asked them “What is the single most important reason you hunted in 2012?” They offered a list of possible answers including spending time with family and friends, being close to nature, for the sport/recreation, for the meat or for a trophy. Thirty-five percent of hunters chose “for the meat,” which is a 13 percent increase since a similar nationwide survey in 2006.

Responsive Management, 2013

Members of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and elk lovers everywhere will tell you there is no leaner, healthier meat than the wild wapiti taken off its native range. You won’t get an argument from the U.S. Department of Agriculture either. USDA statistics show elk has a higher percentage of protein and a lower percentage of fat than grass-fed beef, pork, lamb, duck, whitetail deer or antelope (see chart below). Elk also wins the cholesterol battle while topping the list for the fewest calories per pound category. By comparison, moose and wild turkey put up the best fight.

Nov/Dec 2012 Bugle magazine

And then there’s the taste test. Elk rules the barbecue too. Of course the key to teasing or better yet satisfying those taste buds is not just knowing where to find the various cuts of meat (see chart at bottom of post) or how to cook them, but how to prepare them. Let me let you in on one of the best kept RMEF secrets we recently let out of the bag. It’s a marinate recipe that’ll make you swear you just bellied up to your favorite table at the best steakhouse in town. 

Here’s the back-story:
The recipe is the product of a long-running challenge between two brothers, both members of the RMEF, aimed at designing the ultimate wild game marinade. Over the course of nearly two decades, the brothers sent each other a variety of concoctions each of them made up, some better than others, until the day that one sent this particular recipe to the other. Upon trying it, the challenge was deemed complete. The ultimate wild game marinade had been found. 

Photo via Chad Harder
Here’s what you'll need:
1 1/2 cups olive oil
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup wine vinegar
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
3/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
1/2 cup lemon juice
Choice cuts of venison

Here’s how to make it:
Mix ingredients in a bowl. Submerge selected cuts of locally harvested venison in marinade. Let sit, the longer the better—refrigerate overnight, if possible. Grill venison to desired temperature.

For more tantalizingly tasty recipes, check out RMEF’s Carnivore Kitchen. You will find everything from ginger-spiked elk egg rolls and Southwestern Elk Pozole to bourbon-spiked elk gravy with buttermilk biscuits, pulled elk sandwiches and smoky elk macaroni and cheese. 

Back to the study. A cross-tabulation by gender of the data from the nationwide survey shows that females are even more pro-meat: 55% compared to 27% of male hunters. 

Responsive Management, 2013

So there you have it. Not only is meat the choice of hunters across the country, but elk meat does a body good and tastes great too. We don’t need a study to tell you that.

Nov/Dec 2012 Bugle magazine

Friday, October 18, 2013

Integrity Shines Through, Young Hunters Rescue Elk Calf from Wallowy Fate

“Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.”
-C.S. Lewis

Novelist and poet C.S. Lewis hit the nail right on the head. And so did bowhunting buddies Jeff McConnell and Brant Hoover, both in their mid-20s from Boise. Their true tale is a shining example of their upbringing, integrity and ethical behavior.

First, let’s lay a little groundwork. Jeff, age 25 and son of a Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation member, and Brant, age 24, both hunted with their fathers as long as they could remember. In fact, they’d never hunted with partners other than their dads. That changed when Jeff’s father recently had knee surgery, leaving the son to fend on his own, that is, until he ran into Brant in an archery shop three months before the 2013 bow season. Instantly, they hit it off, shared their elk hunting obsessions, stayed in touch and planned to hook up in the fall. 

When the temperatures started to drop and the bowhunt season arrived, McConnell and Hoover met in the backcountry of west-central Idaho near McCall. Conditions were ideal. It looked like rain yet the skies remained dry despite their gray, overcast appearance. The two hunters passed through meadow after high country meadow, scouting mud holes and scanning the horizon. At the sixth meadow, they jumped a bull and a few cows that quickly headed for safety into the forest, yet for some reason one cow remained.

“What we didn’t notice was a calf in the wallow,” Jeff said. “It was wallowing around and we could hear it like it was using the wallow, but after a while we heard a cow mewing in the woods. It was like a lost cow mew as if she was searching for her baby or something so we stood up and saw this calf was stuck.”

Brant Hoover
Sure enough, a mucky sludge-like wallow, always a magnet of sorts for a bull in the rut, claimed a much smaller victim. The young calf remained stranded as the cow looked on from a short distance away continuing to mew. 

“We approached the calf slowly. I had never heard that shrill screaming sound it was making and she was scaring us as much as we were scaring her. The closer we got, the louder it got,” said McConnell. “When we got really close, the mom came charging into the meadow and was barking at us from 45 to 50 yards away. We both ran away from the calf because we were like ‘Oh crap something may happen here!’ because they can be mean when you’re close to their babies.”

Brant and Jeff took off in separate directions before slowly and cautiously returning to the wallow. They took a step in the muck toward the calf and instantly sunk in almost to their waists quickly realizing they were jeopardizing their own safety. 

“We thought we may get ourselves in trouble,” Jeff said. 

They formulated and acted on a plan to gather sticks and branches that would supply more stable footing. Jeff recorded video (see below) on his phone as Brant grabbed the calf’s hind legs and started to pull. After a while it became obvious this would be a two person job so McConnell put down his phone to help out.

Jeff McConnell
“We both grabbed a hind leg,” Jeff said. “I started to pet her and she calmed down as we pulled her out as far as we could. We just got on the other side of the mud hole and tripped and she kicked the crap out of us. From there, she had the option to go between us to her mother or jump back in the mud and she jumped back in the mud. We were disappointed. It started to rain and we needed to get out of the woods. The mud stunk and we were covered in it. It was sticky and nasty.”

During the struggle, Jeff took a swift kick to the chest but the calf instead connected with a couple of elk calls hanging around his neck. His chest was sore but not bruised. With the calf now further back in the wallow, the young hunters devised a new plan. This time they gathered a couple of big logs, dropping them where they could get better access to the calf and avoid sinking in the mud. Each of them again grabbed the calf by a hind leg and pulled her out a good 10 feet beyond the mud hole, dropped her and then ran back to guard the wallow to block any return.

“She stood up kind of slow. You could tell she was tired. She walked a little bit, looked back at us, and kind of trotted away. Then we both looked at each other like ‘That was the coolest thing that will probably ever happen to us in the middle of the woods!’ We both said we wouldn’t leave until we got her out of there. Hiking out of the woods, we couldn’t stop talking about it. It felt pretty good to know we did the right thing by rescuing that animal. It was pretty cool. We couldn’t sleep. We talked about it all night,” Jeff added.

The evening could’ve ended much, much differently with two “thwacks” from two bows. The hunters could’ve rather easily, and legally, filled their tags—one on a distressed calf stuck in a wallow and the other on a lingering mother cow. Instead, that would not and did not happen.

“Both of us were raised by our dads, raised in the wild and are hunters educated by our fathers who came from a time when there was more respect for animals back then,” Jeff said. “Nowadays so much stuff gets put on Facebook that it gets blown up by social media. It’s definitely something that needs to be illustrated that the younger generation, at least some of us, were raised with the dignity and integrity of the older generation of hunters.”

McConnell called the experience “a pretty big life-changing moment.” Consider the weight of that statement especially when you take into account it came from a young man of integrity nearing yet another life-changing moment—his marriage, that took place a mere three weeks later.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Seniors to Teens, Volunteers Spice up Oregon Elk Country

What generation gap? From teenagers to retirees, all spurred on by their commonly shared love of elk, the volunteers recently gathered in the heart of Oregon elk country. Members of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s Willamette Valley, South Coast and Yamhill County Chapters worked side-by-side with members of the Tioga Chapter of the Oregon Hunters Association.

The gathering place was near a small town named, fittingly enough, Elkton in the west-central part of the state which is home to an elk population estimated at some 7,000 animals. The goal was to spice up downtrodden elk habitat on old logging roads decommissioned by the Bureau of Land Management. The 16 volunteers spent five hours pulling noxious weeds, seeding native grasses and forbs, fertilizing and applying mulch on approximately two miles of roads in the Lutsinger Creek area, a unit that supports a large number of elk hunting tags but also contains strong populations of grouse, turkey, black bear and black-tailed deer. The project will assist all of those species and take a positive step toward improving habitat for an elk population that is currently below objective.

“This was a unique situation where a 2012 seeding had failed, and volunteers came together to make sure this restoration was completed,” said Steve Langenstein, BLM wildlife biologist. “Materials for the project were provided by both BLM and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife habitat restoration funds.”

Kati McCrea, statewide RMEF project coordinator, echoed those comments saying the group cooperated in such a way that this was one of the best gatherings for a volunteer project she saw this year. South Coast Chapter Chair Kirby Boyd put the project volunteers together.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Nevada Volunteers Dig Deep to Help Thirsty Elk

One of the best ways Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation volunteers work to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage is to not just kick around ideas of potential habitat enhancement projects, but to roll up their sleeves, dig in and get dirty. Case in point, check out a recent project in the bone-dry Nevada desert that is now an oasis of sorts--a new water source for elk, deer and other critters.

The RMEF ponied up $15,500 as part of a cooperative effort to fund and construct what’s now called the Rimrock Guzzler. Located on the east side of the Grant Mountain Range near the mouth of Rimrock Canyon in Nye County on the Ely Ranger District of the Hyumboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, the guzzler consists of two 1,800 gallon wildlife drink tanks. It also contains a 30’ by 100’ collection apron, a screen, pipe and fittings. 

Volunteers from the RMEF Ely Chapter worked with the Nevada Department of Wildlife to connect the two guzzlers in tandem so gravity feeds water from the collection apron into the first guzzler and then overflows downhill into the second unit. Crews also built a four-strand barbwire fence with treated corner posts around the apron and a pipe rail fence around the tanks to protect them from any nearby livestock and wild horses. Motion detection cameras will be used to monitor the site. Though only in use a few months, wildlife such as elk, deer and antelope are already using the guzzler.

Thank you volunteers and our partners!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Ensuring our Hunting Heritage in the Last Frontier

Alaska is known for its sprawling, breathtaking scenic landscapes and an abundance of wildlife. And while it’s the largest state in the United States by area, it’s the least densely populated but that certainly doesn’t stop Alaskans from getting out and learning new ways to enjoy it.

Enter the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, which recently co-sponsored the NRA Youth Sportsfest Firearm Safety Camp—a “no cost” camp designed to help youth responsibly and safely enjoy firearms. RMEF, which devotes a part of its mission to “ensure our hunting heritage,” contributed $3,750 for ammunition and $250 for safety equipment and supplies. 

RMEF has a long history of supporting such activities in Alaska. Since 1992, RMEF and its partners completed 73 conservation and hunting heritage projects with a combined value of more than $5.3 million.

Volunteers from the Mat-Sue Chapter offered supervision and guidance to 394 youth age 8-18 by helping the boys and girls shoot small and large caliber rifles and pistols, black powder muzzleloading rifles and pistols, cowboy-action pistols and rifles, 12-gauge and 20-gauge shotguns, and compound bows at the Birchwood Recreation & Shooting Park in Chugiak. 

The youth left the camp with much more than newly acquired knowledge, confidence and noticeable smiles on their faces. Each attendee received a coupon to attend a Hunter Education course offered through the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Before they left they also received lunch and then took home a free gift ranging from camping supplies to hunting and fishing equipment as a way to encourage kids to participate in future outdoor activities and remain active.

Special thanks goes out to our dedicated Alaska volunteers, our co-sponsors, local law enforcement and the Chugiak Volunteer Fire Department.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Fitting Farewell for a True Conservationist

Rance Block
Rance Block doesn’t just know that the mission of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is to enhance the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. He lives it!

Never one to toot his own horn, hundreds did so for him as he recently stood before an appreciative throng of applauding admirers at the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition’s (WWRC) annual breakfast in Seattle. Rance accepted the Joan Thomas Award for his dedication to protecting and conserving wildlife habitat. 

“To stand in especially this room looking around, I am deeply, deeply honored and humbled and want to offer a sincere ‘Thank you’ to the coalition,” said Block. “This award really doesn’t belong to me but instead to the 16,000 Washington Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation members, but really especially to our 300 volunteers around the state that, whenever I have needed something, they’re there.” 

Rance recently retired after a 20-year RMEF career during which he had direct involvement in conserving more than 130,000 acres of wildlife habitat. He served as lands program manager for Washington, with an emphasis on the eastern part of the state, and director of lands nationally. He adhered to the RMEF mission while dedicating himself to securing access for sportsmen, conserving wild places around the West and also assisted his fellow lands program managers with their individual projects. It’s interesting to note that he semi-retired five years ago, but could not stay away from doing what he loved.

Rock Creek Project -- Block was instrumental in transaction that protects more than 10,000 acres of habitat on the east slope of the Cascade Mountains
During his acceptance speech, Rance held up a coffee mug and said, “It’s a symbol of the most important aspect of conservation, and that’s the ability to listen. It’s important to have a cup of coffee and listen to the needs of elected officials... It’s important to have a cup of coffee and listen to the needs of potential partners… In tough economic times, partnerships are the key to showing broad support for projects. It’s important to have a cup of coffee and listen to the needs of outdoor users… It is important to realize that people utilize our lands differently and it’s important to find a way to incorporate their support.” 

He closed with a plea of sorts to his fellow conservationists and those who will follow. “We need to take time to listen to the younger generation and find out and craft programs and projects that are going to appeal to those future conservationists. With that said, I appreciate your time and I’d like to thank you for joining me today for a cup of coffee.” (See the video of his entire speech here.)

Though he worked in the field with a home base in eastern Washington, he casts a tall shadow in the halls of RMEF’s national headquarters.

“Rance Block, through his years with RMEF, became known as the guy who could put together and pull off the large landscape conservation projects; projects that were tens of thousands of acres and had a multitude of partners and complexities,” said Blake Henning, RMEF vice president of Lands and Conservation. “Known for his attention to detail, thoroughness, and perseverance, I always knew a project that Rance worked on would be done to the highest standards. Known as a leader, fundraiser, and good thinker, Rance was sought out by his peers for advice and guidance, which caused him to have an impact on elk country beyond the primary states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho that he worked in. Additionally, Rance knows where the RMEF came from, the vision of the founders, and the role of the volunteers and how important they were to getting conservation done on the ground. Rance is very deserving of the recognition he receives.”

Thank you Rance! And good luck in retirement chasing elk in your home state.

Rance and WWRC Board President Peter Dykstra
(It should be noted, and it’s really not that surprising, that Rance is still not fully retired because he willingly still has his fingers in a number of land conservation projects.)