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

Thursday, March 21, 2013

RMEF Recognized for Virginia Elk Restoration Efforts

Buchanan Co., Virginia
Elk are back on their native range in Virginia for the first time in more than 150 years. In recognition of their successful return, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation recently received national recognition for helping make the reintroduction a reality (see video below).

The Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) honored RMEF, the Virginia Oil and Gas Association, and other partners with its Chairman’s Stewardship Award, IOGCC’s highest honor for exemplary efforts by the oil and natural gas industry in environmental stewardship. Specifically, the group received the Environmental Partnership Award for innovative projects led by non-industry organizations with the cooperation of industry.

Here is a summary as presented by IOGCC: 

“Virginia has not seen its native elk roaming since 1855. Unsuccessful attempts to re-introduce the elk ended in 1970. These attempts lacked adequate planning, management and funding to achieve success. To overcome these obstacles, Virginia Game and Inland Fisheries (VGIF) partnered with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. 

“The two organizations developed a plan in which elk from Kentucky would be relocated to Buchanan County, Virginia. This particular habitat included reclaimed surface mines and active natural gas well locations. Both provided vegetation conducive to elk survival. 

“Launching the project required a $300,000 donation from RMEF to VGIF. The RMEF agreed to donate the money on the condition that it was repaid. A local RMEF chapter included a member, Leon Boyd, whose profession and connections with the natural gas industry made the repayment a possibility. Thus, another unique partnership was born: the RMEF, the VGIF and the natural gas industry.”

Recipients include RMEF Lands Program Manager Kim Delozier (sixth from right) & RMEF Regional Director Chris Croy (ninth from right)
Virginia became the sixth state where RMEF helped restore elk, releasing 18 animals on May 18, 2012. Plans are in the works to add more elk to the herd. Just across Virginia’s western border, RMEF helped reintroduce elk to Kentucky 16 years ago, where a herd of 10,000 strong continues to grow and thrive.

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