|RMEF in the early days|
The date was May 14, 1984, when Charlie Decker, Bob Munson, Bill Munson and Dan Bull –a logger, a realtor, a drive-in owner, and a pastor— drained their bank accounts and borrowed whatever funds they could get their hands on to officially establish the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, an organization dedicated to conserving elk and elk habitat.
They started off by setting up shop in the back room of a trailer house in tiny Troy, Montana. They printed 32,000 copies of the premier issue of Bugle magazine. By the end of 1984, membership grew to almost 2,500. RMEF had its first convention in April of 1985 in Spokane, Washington. At that gathering, Anheuser-Busch announced a $500,000 gift for the fledgling organization. That year also marked the first-ever RMEF habitat project—a grant that helped pay for a prescribed burn in the appropriately named Elk Creek on the Kootenai National Forest near Libby.
|RMEF's first building in Troy, Montana|
In 1988, RMEF facilitated its first land acquisition—the 16,440-acre Robb Creek property in Montana. By then, RMEF had 12 staffers, 2,000 volunteers, 70 chapters, 32,000 members and enhanced more than 110,000 acres of elk country. Busting at the seams of office space in three separate locations, RMEF packed its bags and moved 180 miles south and east to its present day home of Missoula. The first stop was a converted warehouse that also became overcrowded after time because of tremendous growth.
Fast forward to May 14, 2014, and the ball keeps rolling as RMEF celebrates its 30th birthday. The organization can proudly proclaim it enhanced or protected more than 6.4 million acres of habitat across the country and opened or secured public access to more than 708,000 acres for hunters and others to enjoy. RMEF also helped reintroduce thriving, wild elk herds to their native range on six states and one Canadian province. Riding its fifth consecutive year of record membership, RMEF now boasts more than 203,000 members and 10,000+ volunteers in more than 500 chapters around the country.
|RMEF Founders Bob Munson (left) and Charlie Decker|
“It’s almost unimaginable to see how far we’ve come as an organization since we struggled just to keep our heads above water three decades ago,” said Charlie Decker, RMEF co-founder. “The reason we made it is because our strong base of volunteers. I am so grateful for them.”
“The growth and on-the-ground accomplishments of the RMEF is a tremendous blessing,” said Bob Munson, RMEF co-founder. “Our members, volunteers and staffers are like a family. They really care and make a difference for elk and elk country every day.”
“We are doing more today than ever before to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. And we maintain that same ‘Full speed ahead!’ course established by the passion and determination our founders,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO.
One thing that remains a constant from May 14, 1984, to May 14, 2014, is the lingering passion for and dedication to elk and elk country.
Happy birthday RMEF! The future looks bright!
If you are interested in joining the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, go here.
|RMEF headquarters in Missoula, Montana|