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

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.)


  1. Thank you, Rance, for all that you have done in your years of service to RMEF, for it's volunteers, and most importantly to the benefactors of the mission of RMEF!

  2. Very informative post, I just bookmarked your site and I’ll definitely be back again.