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

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Recognizing Those Who Do So Much for Elk and Elk Country

Elk Camp 2013 in Las Vegas was not only a time to celebrate elk and elk country, but a time to recognize those who work hard to maintain and improve vital elk habitat. 

Eight out of every 10 wild elk spend all or part of the year on the 72 million acres of national forests and grasslands across the country. In addition, of the total 277 million acres of elk habitat in the western United States, approximately  43 million acres (16%) are managed by the Bureau of Land Management.   
That’s why the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the US Forest Service (USFS) and the BLM continue to work diligently to conserve critical winter, summer and calving ranges, improve forest, rangeland, grassland and riparian health and conduct research on public lands. Along with other federal, state, tribal, conservation and private partners, RMEF and USFS provided more than $196 million to fund more than 2,500 projects to conserve and enhance more than 2.8 million acres of elk country. Likewise, RMEF and the BLM joined with other partners to invest more than $107 million to complete over 840 projects - successfully conserving nearly 1.5 million acres of elk habitat on BLM-managed public lands.

The purpose of the Elk Country Awards is to acknowledge BLM and USFS employees and units for outstanding conservation, habitat enhancement, and partnership efforts on public lands in elk country. Awards are granted in four categories: habitat enhancement, individual achievement, partner coordination, and special achievement. 

2013 Elk Country Award winners: 

Rod Triepke (RMEF), Dale Gomez & Steve Segovia (USFS) 
Dale Gomez, wildlife biologist on the Rio Grande National Forest, received the 2013 RMEF Elk Country Award for Individual Achievement for his long-standing commitment to excellence in wildlife habitat enhancement. This national award recognized his wildlife habitat work on the Rio Grande National Forest in cooperation with RMEF, nine projects since 1998, but also for the eight cooperative projects when he was a wildlife biologist on the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming. His projects resulted in nearly 14,000 acres of wildlife habitat improvement projects benefiting elk and a wide variety of other wildlife found in elk country. 

Dwight Fielder (BLM), James Sparks & Triepke
James R. Sparks, wildlife biologist with the BLM's Missoula Field Office, received the 2013 RMEF Elk Country Award for sustained dedication and to elk conservation and habitat enhancement. This national award was presented jointly by RMEF and BLM for Sparks' outstanding work from 2006 through 2012. Sparks is a consummate professional, working tirelessly on projects to improve wildlife habitat including prescribed burning, noxious weed control, forest thinning and fence removal. He has been the lead on nine cooperative projects with RMEF. His projects treated more than 2,700 acres of wildlife habitat in elk country. Sparks is also active with projects that engage youth in elk and wildlife management through educational efforts and by incorporating student groups in conservation projects. 

The Willamette National Forest received the 2013 RMEF Elk Country Award for Wildlife Habitat Management, a national award that recognizes excellence in restoring the long-term health and productivity of elk habitat at a landscape level. The forest and RMEF cooperated on 41 projects dating back to 1989. More than 75 percent of the forest has been reserved for mature and late successional terrestrial or aquatic species. However in the remainder of the forest, the Willamette in partnership with RMEF continues to thin and fertilize approximately 2,500 acres per year to rejuvenate essential forage and an additional 1,150 acres of seeding and planting of desired forage grasses, annuals and shrubs and weed treatments to maintain early seral habitat for Roosevelt elk and other wildlife in elk country. 

Penny Harris, Ruby Seitz, Daryl Whitmore (Willamette National Forest), Segovia & Triepke
Thank you to these good folks and all others who do so much to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

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