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


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What’s After ‘Life?’ Habitat Council Members Provide the Proof

The question was a simple one: “What’s after life?” It came from a relatively new member of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. His status as a supporting (or annual) member was not enough so he donated $1,500 to become a Life Member. But still, he wanted to do more, much more. He stated a desire to magnify his membership and make a significant investment in helping to carry out RMEF’s mission to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. 

That true tale is one of many such success stories scattered among members of RMEF’s Habitat Council. As co-chair Nancy Holland recently stated, “We are the investors of the RMEF.” Her words ring true. All RMEF members, regardless of their membership level, certainly have a stake in supporting conservation work to benefit elk and elk country, but for members of the Habitat Council it truly is an investment. They reach that level by contributing a minimum of $10,000 to the organization. 

Their donations are matched and even exceeded by their passion and dedication. Several Habitat Council members, at a recent three-day outing designed specifically for them in Phoenix, shared their sentiments after being asked, “Why are you here?” Here are some of their words:

“I put this note at the bottom of the sheet (at his first RMEF banquet years ago),’If you need any help, call me.’ I got a call the next morning and have been involved ever since. This is the organization I have chosen because our beliefs are very similar. I think it’s necessary we protect the land and animals. It’s wonderful what we’ve done to bring kids outside. That’s my testimony.”

“Tomorrow, you’ll have the privilege to meet the smallest Life Member of the RMEF, and that’s my now eight year old grandson. He was one pound, seven ounces at birth. And that’s why.”

“I want to touch the life of a child. I want them to know what God has done for them. The Lord spoke to my heart.”

"There’s a wonderful group of people that instilled in me a passion to take care of the land for our children and take care of the critters. I have come to love RMEF.”

“This is family and we do this for the future. We have put our hard-earned money into this. This is an investment into the future for what is near and dear to us.”

The Habitat Council Meeting & Retreat in Phoenix, Arizona, was one of several annual gatherings arranged for members of the Habitat Council. Another takes place at Elk Camp, RMEF’s annual convention, scheduled for December 4-7, 2014, in Las Vegas. Those on hand in Phoenix came together from all over the country—Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming, along with RMEF staffers from California, Illinois, Indiana, Montana, North Carolina and Washington.

Saturday:

Welcome reception and dinner at Camelback Ranch Stadium, Spring Training home of the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers. Speakers included RMEF President/CEO David Allen, RMEF Chairman of the Board Lee Swanson and Habitat Council co-chairs Nancy and Howard Holland. Former major league pitcher Rick Sutcliffe and San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy were special guests who shared baseball stories and took part in a good-hearted roast.

Sunday:

Habitat Council meeting
  • Mission Update
  • State of the RMEF 
  • Q & A
  • Testimonials
  • Discussion of upcoming events 
  • Presentation and discussion of Habitat Council strategic plan
  • Reports on smaller Habitat Council events in California, Colorado, Missouri and Wisconsin
Lunch on the patio via Palm Court Restaurant
Reception and dinner at LON’s at The Hermosa

Monday:

Desert Jeep tour at the Tonto National Forest
Golf at the TPC Scottsdale
Dinner at the Desert Botanical Garden

The Habitat Council’s 2014 Summer Meeting and Retreat will take place in Vancouver, Washington, while the 2015 summer gathering is scheduled for Park City, Utah.

To become an RMEF member, go here. For more information about the Habitat Council, call 800-CALL-ELK.



New RMEF Member, Racer Shows his True Colors

Casey Delp loves to go fast! The faster, the better. But it’s not just the speed and raw horsepower that catches your eye. It’s his pink camo paint scheme with a large Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation logo emblazoned on both sides of his race car that really grab your attention.

“It feels good having that logo on the side of my car because I know what it’s about, you know. It’s about conservation,” said Delp. “It just makes me happy to be a part of it.”

And Casey walks the walk, too. He recently signed up to become an RMEF member at the big game banquet hosted by his hometown Sweetwater Chapter in Rock Springs, Wyoming.

What’s somewhat ironic is Casey did not grow up a hunter or a racer. As a teenager, he was a bull rider but suffered a broken leg when a bull stepped on him. A steel plate and nine screws in his shin closed the door on any rodeo aspirations but opened the door to a life in the fast lane. He promptly got together with a couple of buddies to build his first car –broken leg and all– and then won his first race. 

That checkered flag was the first step to winning four straight track championships. It also helped paved the way to his current partnership with RMEF. During a recent visit to the four-day party in Grand Junction, Colorado, popularly known as Country Jam USA, he stopped to talk elk and racing with the RMEF. One handshake later and Casey had a new partner.

Casey's first bull
Delp started hunting about a decade ago. He shot his first bull, a nice one, in 2012. He would like to go on a week-long elk hunt in 2014 but the demands of his job as a pipeline welder and his responsibilities as a husband and father to a two-year-old daughter also come into play. 

And then there’s that whole racing obsession. As a member of the International Motor Contest Association Wild West Modified Tour, his racing team visits Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nebraska, Idaho and Nevada. He would also like to hit Arizona and possibly Montana. And that takes us back to the paint scheme—an outward display of an internal drive of the love and deep feelings he holds for his family.

“I lost my grandma five years ago to cancer and my family has a long history to cancer and we’ve lost quite a few family members from it. When I lost my grandma I told myself from here on out I’m going to dedicate my racing and everything to cancer,” said Delp. “That’s how I got my pink scheme and I got hooked up with guys who do wraps in Rock Springs. It’s amazing. It’s good looking stuff. They put pink camo in there with everything. I love hunting and love racing and have pink in there for the cancer issue.”

And with that dedication and determination, Delp will hit the track with a goal of taking yet another checkered flag.

“I’m real thankful for RMEF to be a part of our D& F Racing Team,” said Delp.

One glance at his sweet ride offers plenty evidence of that.


Go here to become a member of the RMEF.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Stepping Up Even More to Help Elk

The mission of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. If you are a hunter, you already contribute to the cause via the purchase of supplies, licenses and fees that raise funds for land and wildlife conservation. If you are an RMEF member, you further contribute through membership dues. If you are an RMEF volunteer, you contribute even more because of your dedication of time and effort on top of that. But what if you want to do more?

As of December 31, 2013, RMEF had a record 203,703 members with varying participatory levels ranging from a $20 youth member to a $1,500 life member. RMEF volunteers arrange and carry out big game banquets and work projects, seek new members through fundraising drives and serve on committees in more than 500 chapters nationwide. President and CEO David Allen calls those volunteers “rock stars.” They keep the organization firing on all cylinders. But there’s another segment of membership that powers RMEF into a higher, more effective gear. Numbering 3,034 strong or roughly 1.5 percent of RMEF’s total membership, they are RMEF’s Habitat Partners. 

RMEF’s Habitat Partnership program recognizes major donors who make a minimum gift of $2,500 and tracks their cumulative philanthropic giving total. Habitat Partners are welcome to attend the Friends of the Foundation Breakfast at Elk Camp, RMEF’s annual convention. There are varying Habitat Partner contribution levels:



Once a Habitat Partner reaches the Imperial level of $10,000, he or she is invited to join the Habitat Council. Originally established in 1992, Habitat Council members work together to raise funds with a goal of seizing more opportunities for RMEF’s mission. The Habitat Council usually meets twice a year, at Elk Camp and a second summer gathering, to give input to the RMEF Board of Directors and executive staff on fundraising, membership and wildlife habitat issues. The summer meeting includes a site tour where members learn more about how their investments are working for wildlife. 

Hatfield Knob, Tennessee 
For example, in June of 2013, the Habitat Council met in Knoxville, Tennessee. The three-day gathering included a private viewing of synchronous fireflies and glow worms, reception at CafĂ© 4 at the historic Knoxville Market House, private acoustic concert by Daryle Singletary, strategy sessions, Volunteer Princess dinner cruise on the Tennessee River and a trip to the Hatfield Knob viewing area to personally witness the fruits of elk restoration efforts. Looking ahead, the 2014 summer meeting will take place in Vancouver, Washington, and the 2015 gathering is scheduled for Park City, Utah. 

Some Habitat Council members also choose to hold smaller informational gatherings in more intimate settings for friends and other like-minded folks. In 2013, such gatherings took place in southern California, Colorado, Missouri and Wisconsin.

Individuals who include RMEF in their estate planning become members of the Trails Society. Their gift will make an impact on elk country and help leave a legacy for our children and grandchildren to enjoy. Planned gifts can generate a retirement income stream, produce income tax deductions and reduce future estate tax liability. Such methods include wills, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, life estate arrangements, charitable gift annuities, charitable remainder trusts, and charitable lead trusts. 

John Day Headwaters, Oregon
So there are many different available steps to help ensure the future of elk and elk country. It just depends on how many steps you want to climb. The higher you go, the better the view.

For more information, send an email to legacy@rmef.org or call 800-CALL-ELK and ask for the Development Department.

“Gamesmanship” Kicks off RMEF Habitat Council’s Arizona Meeting

RMEF comes up a winner on the stadium scoreboard
It doesn’t take much to bring out the boy in the man. All he needs is an audience to play to and the opportunity to recall, reminisce, maybe stretch the truth a hair and then let the punch lines fly.

Two characters from America’s past-time shared center stage at an evening reception at the February meeting of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s Habitat Council.

David Allen
Truth be told, the common denominator or key cog in what was more accurately a three-ring circus was RMEF President/CEO David Allen. Allen is a long-time friend of former major league pitcher Rick Sutcliffe. Sutcliffe, for his part, brought along current San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy. 

Rick Sutcliffe
(via Sports Illustrated)
Fittingly enough, the setting was the pavilion of Camelback Ranch Stadium in suburban Phoenix, Spring Training home of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox. Allen was first to take to the microphone. One-liners led to punch lines and story after story about Sutcliffe’s past, both off and on the field. Sutcliffe revved up the roast by returning fire on Allen and then immediately taking pot shots at his friend, Bochy. 

Bochy, ever the diplomat, used a strategic game plan to chart his course of action, something definitely not foreign to the man who led the Giants to World Series championships in both 2010 and 2012. He worked the larger RMEF crowd that, in addition to Habitat Council members, also included RMEF board members, staffers and others.

Bruce Bochy
(via Hardballtimes.com)
“My passion is hunting. A former teammate of mine, Goose Gossage, had a ranch in Colorado. We used it as therapy for after the season,” said Bochy. “In my office in San Francisco, I’m the only manager with an elk head hanging in his office. I applaud you for what you do. It’s really an honor for me to be here.”

With the onlookers clearly on his side, Bochy then recalibrated his tactics, put Sutcliffe in the crosshairs and went in for the kill.

Bochy (left) unleashes a zinger at Sutcliffe
“There was a story in Cincinnati where Rick was having a tough day on the mound. Back then when a hitter hit a home run, all these fireworks would go off. He was getting the ball up that day and a hitter named Paul O’Neill hits a home run and all the fireworks are going off, ‘Boom! Boom!’ Then the next hitter, the next pitch, Eric Davis. He hits a home run and they’re just going off, ‘Boom! Boom! Boom!’ Smoke everywhere! You can’t hardly see! Here comes Don Zimmer, the manager. He comes out there (to the mound). He’s a competitor. Rick doesn’t want to hear it from his manager so he says, ‘What in the hell are you going to tell me now?’ ‘I’m not here to tell you anything,’ said Zimmer. ‘I’m trying to give these guys a chance to reload out there!’”

Sutcliffe, a fellow lover of the outdoors, closed with a story about the late Harry Caray. And then, looking out to the RMEF crowd and with a simple acknowledgement of gratitude, he concluded by saying, “Thank you for all you do.”

All's well that ends well

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Trip Down Memory Lane for RMEF Volunteers

Royal Teton Ranch
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation volunteers are renowned for their ingenuity when it comes to fundraising. But every once in awhile they outdo even themselves—and leave an impression that lasts a lifetime.

The year was 1997, and some of the best conservation news in a long time had just hit Montana's Yellowstone country. In September, the RMEF had struck a deal with the Church Universal and Triumphant (CUT) to protect 7,300 acres of the most critical winter ranges and migration corridors on CUT's Royal Teton Ranch (RTR) through an acquisition, land exchanges and conservation easements. 

Overlooking the Yellowstone River just north of Yellowstone National Park, the RTR was purchased in 1981 by the southern California-based fellowship, who eventually came to see it as a refuge from the pending apocalypse: a place to survive nuclear war, financial collapse or famine. 

But for an amazing variety of wildlife, the RTR is a refuge of a different sort. Much of Yellowstone's northern elk herd winters there; grizzly bears give birth and raise cubs there; lynx and wolverines prowl its dark woods; and mule deer, bison and pronghorns graze its lower meadows. 

By the mid-1990s, the church had come under new leadership and was also struggling financially. After a close review of its situation, the church decided it would have better luck being headquartered in an urban center. With support from a variety of other conservation groups, RMEF began courting the church to sell its land for conservation purposes. 

When word of a deal reached Montana's lead volunteers, they began brainstorming on how they could help raise funds for the RTR. Together, they came up with a program they called "Adopt-A-Project," and encouraged every chapter in the country to jump on board. The incentive? For every Habitat Partnership they brought in to help raise money for the RTR, participating chapters were entered into a raffle that would grant up to eight volunteers from the winning committee a trip out West for five days touring the RTR and the Yellowstone area, compliments of Montana's lead volunteers. 

"The Montana volunteers took fundraising to a whole new level with Adopt-A-Project," says regional director Scott Westphal, who was Montana's state chair at the time. Besides being the brains behind the program, Westphal says the volunteers also did all the legwork, handling the logistics of compiling and mailing the package, promoting the project, tracking the dollars raised by the chapters, issuing raffle tickets, and planning the reward. 

In the end, more than 30 chapters sold raffle tickets, recruited new Habitat Partners and brought in cash donations, raising more than $227,000 that covered most of the upfront purchase costs of the $13 million deal. 

Montana volunteers meet up with the
Tulsa Chapter at the Royal Teton Ranch in 2000
Oklahoma's Tulsa Chapter—whose committee members had pooled their money toward a Habitat Partnership—won the drawing. In August 2000, seven lucky volunteers traveled to Gardiner, Montana, where they enjoyed top-notch hospitality, experienced a "behind-the-scenes" tour of Yellowstone Park, fished spectacular rivers, savored nightly barbeques and shared memorable evenings around the campfire—all the while building lifelong friendships with their Montana counterparts. 

The pinnacle of the trip for the group came on the final day when they stood together on the RTR, looking over the ground they helped protect, some with tears in their eyes. 

"It wasn't real until we got there," Floyd Luck, then-Oklahoma state chair, said later. "I didn't understand and put it together until I actually stood on the land. It came to life for us." 

Today, Westphal echoes these sentiments. "Standing there together on the RTR, knowing that this group of "Joe Citizens" had helped make something extraordinary happen for wildlife, is something I will never forget," Westphal says. "That moment is one of the highlights of my time with the foundation."
-Lee Lamb

Go here if you are interested in becoming an RMEF volunteer.

Why RMEF Volunteers Do What They Do

Nine-year-old Kate Deklerk has attended the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation's Peoria, Illinois, banquet for five years with her father Tony. Regional chair Terry McLaughlin emcees the event and gets youths involved by having them draw raffle winners. Kate was just 5 years old when Terry asked her to help at the 2010 banquet. After the drawing, Kate returned to her table, but before reaching it she dashed back up and gave Terry the biggest hug imaginable. The hug caught Terry totally off-guard and touched him deeply. Every year since, Kate always greets Terry at the banquet with a great big hug.

Kate Deklerk and her new rifle
In 2013, every RMEF chapter received a Weatherby youth rifle package underwritten by the MidwayUSA Foundation. The Peoria committee decided the live auction was the best place for the rifle. Banquet night arrived, and soon it was time to draw raffle winners. When it was time for the “Pick of the Herd” raffle (where the winner gets to choose an item from the live auction), Terry had the auctioneer’s son draw the winning ticket. When nobody claimed the prize, Terry, who’d purchased four chances, checked his tickets and realized that he was the winner!

While he looked over the items, Terry wondered if he should choose the banquet rifle or one of the prints. Then he spotted the youth rifle and had an idea. Remembering that awesome hug from Kate in 2010, and valuing the friendship he had built with Tony since, Terry approached Tony and asked if Kate was going to be shooting or hunting with him. Tony said yes, she had already started to shoot and had been afield with him. Terry asked Kate to come up front with him, and announced that he was selecting the youth rifle package from the live auction and giving it to Kate! Terry’s generosity stirred the crowd and resulted in a record night for the Peoria Chapter’s banquet. And to top it off, Tony became a life member!

A little later, Kate approached Terry at the podium and handed him a piece of paper. She had listened to Terry tell the crowd that he had been ill recently, and she had torn a piece of paper off the banquet program and written, “Get well soon. Sorry I did not know,” and added hearts and a couple dozen Xs and Os. Kate had once again deeply touched Terry’s heart. He saved that scrap of paper and had it nicely framed.

The note, the smile on Kate’s face when handed the new youth rifle, and the special friendship between Terry, Tony and Kate have all helped solidify the reasons why Terry is an RMEF volunteer. Kate and all the youths like her are why we do what we do!
-Kurt Flack, Regional Director, Southern Wisconsin & Illinois

Go here to learn how to become an RMEF volunteer.

This Kid’s All Heart

In early October 2013, the Palouse Whitepine Chapter in Moscow, Idaho, hosted a young man from Farmington, Utah, on an Outdoor Dream hunt. The Outdoor Dream Foundation is a non-profit organization that grants outdoor adventures to children who have been diagnosed with terminal or life-threatening illnesses. Josh Pace, 12 years old, was born with only three chambers in his heart instead of four. His dream was to hunt a bull moose.

Josh Pace & friends
Josh and his father Chad arrived the afternoon of October 2. The chapter had already pitched camp on Bennett Lumber Company land. After a dinner of burgers and hot dogs around the campfire, the group made plans for the next morning’s hunt.

Among the volunteers was a special young man from Brevard, North Carolina. Justin Turner was a guest of the Palouse Whitepine Chapter three years ago on his own Outdoor Dream moose hunt while battling a rare form of bone cancer. Justin, now 19, has been in remission ever since. He has graduated from Northwest Lineman College in Meridian and is now working in New Jersey. When he heard that we were hosting another hunt for the Outdoor Dream Foundation, he bought his own plane ticket and flew out to Idaho to help out. Justin is a true inspiration to everyone that has met him. He truly knows the ups and downs of Josh’s situation and wants to give back in any way that he can to help others in similar situations.

That first morning the hunting party was able to spot several moose feeding in clearcuts, including one fine bull. Unfortunately by the time Josh and his dad decided that they wanted to kill this moose, the bull walked into the woods and out of sight. They spotted a few more moose over the next few days, but nothing of the caliber of that first one.

On Saturday, the third day of hunting, the group took the morning off to go bear hunting with hounds. After a slow start the hounds finally struck a hot trail mid-morning and the chase was on! After an exciting chase, the bear was treed and Josh was able to kill his first big game animal.

Sunday morning dawned with a heavy frost. The group left camp well before daylight to make it to the clearcuts before the moose slipped away. The group walked out into a massive clearcut just at sunup and immediately spotted a good bull. As Josh was getting set up, someone noticed two more bulls in the same clearcut, and one was very impressive. After repositioning, Josh was able to kill his moose at 185 yards. Ironically, after comparing photos of the moose that walked off the first day, they confirmed that this was the same animal.

Sponsoring an Outdoor Dream Foundation hunt is a massive undertaking that only comes together when you have a solid group of dedicated volunteers. The reward for all the time and effort is the smile of a child and the satisfaction of bringing such happiness to those who deserve it. Well done, Palouse Whitepine Chapter, well done.

-Wayne Brood, Idaho State Chair

Getting in DEEP about Elk

Ask most kids in Connecticut if they’ve ever seen an elk, and you’ll likely see a lot of shaking heads. Heck, some might have never even heard of the beast. It’s understandable. After all, no one’s found physical evidence that they ever existed in the state, and no wild elk freely roam there today.

But that doesn’t mean elk-junkies don’t reside in Connecticut. They do, and the most dedicated of the bunch populate two RMEF chapters in Danbury and Manchester. One of the volunteers, Dan Armstead, RMEF state chair for Southern New England and chapter chair of the Connecticut River Chapter in Manchester, wants everyone in his state and beyond to know about elk, especially young people. Armstead, along with his wife Jean, travel to several events throughout the year—including PBR events, Scout shows, state fish and game events, and SAFE programs—to set up and staff a booth that teaches folks about the wily wapiti and the good work of RMEF.

One of those events is held in conjunction with Connecticut Hunting & Fishing Appreciation Day every September. The state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) teams up with Friends of the Sessions Woods to host the free, daylong event which is held at the Sessions Woods Wildlife Management Area and Education Center in Burlington. The program features field dog demos, target shooting, archery and casting pools for attendees of all ages, as well as a host of youth-related crafts and activities, including making casts of tracks, a scavenger hunt and a chance to visit with live reptiles.

RMEF co-sponsors the event through its state grant program. Thanks to the Armsteads, RMEF also joins more than 30 other conservation, hunting and fishing organizations in attendance to teach Connecticut’s citizens about wildlife, conservation and responsible hunting.

The Connecticut River Chapter’s booth is donned with the usual RMEF banners, Bugle magazines and membership brochures. But the big draw is the head mounts of a bull elk and mule deer and pronghorn antelope bucks, along with an elk hide, moose antler and other animal parts.

“The kids love it,” Armstead says. “The most common question we hear when they see the bull elk is, ‘What is it?’ Growing up in Connecticut they know deer, but they have no concept of bigger game animals. They are curious, they want to touch the hide and antlers, and they want to learn more.”

As they teach the biology behind the elk and other critters, the couple also works in messages about wildlife and habitat conservation and our hunting heritage, along with a healthy dose of how to be responsible, ethical hunters—a message they pass along to adults who visit their booth as well.

“Regardless of their age, we want them to leave our booth knowing that hunter-conservationists are responsible for the opportunities we have today to view, hunt and enjoy wildlife, and that we need their help if we are going to continue this tradition for future generations,” Armstead says.

-Lee Lamb

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Greater Yellowstone Area: An RMEF Footprint of Conservation Success

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation was barely five years old when it garnered national attention by protecting key elk habitat in Paradise Valley immediately north of Yellowstone Park. The year was 1989, and RMEF's 3,275-acre acquisition at Dome Mountain would be the first of many projects the Foundation would accomplish in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem.

This effort grew in part out of an agreement between RMEF, the USFS Northern Region, Yellowstone National Park and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks that placed the Elk Foundation in a leading role in acquiring and forever protecting private lands within the migration route of the Northern Yellowstone elk herd. It also helped create a model that remains in place today for nonprofits to secure both habitat and public access in partnership with public agencies.

OTO Ranch 
In 1990, RMEF conveyed the 3,265 acre OTO Ranch to the Gallatin National Forest, soon followed by an additional 600 acres. In 1996, the 6,182 acre Porcupine project in the Upper Gallatin was added to the National Forest. Several smaller transactions were also completed around that same time, including property within the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness.

RMEF then shifted to the west side of the National Park in 1994, completing a conservation easement on 7,527 acres in the Madison Valley at the foot of the Lee Metcalf Wilderness.

Perhaps the biggest victory came in 1999 when RMEF reached a milestone agreement with the Church Universal and Triumphant. RMEF purchased 4,458 acres of the Church's Royal Teton Ranch land along the wild northern border of the National Park near Gardiner. It's now National Forest land that stretches down to the Yellowstone River and sits adjacent to the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness. A conservation easement was also completed with the Church on another 1,500 acres.

Royal Teton Ranch
But RMEF's commitment to Greater Yellowstone goes beyond land protection. The Foundation has helped fund multiple wildlife research studies in the Yellowstone area and contributed funding for thousands of acres of prescribed burns, noxious weed treatments and other habitat enhancements on public lands in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem.

New projects have emerged in the Madison River corridor with the Bureau of Land Management and Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks. One is on track for completion in 2014. The other may be launched in 2015. A bit further out are small, but significant projects including one to acquire land on the Nez Perce National Historic Trail for the Forest Service and another approximately 900 acres on the Idaho side of the park.

As wildlife starved by the thousands in the aftermath of the 1988 Yellowstone fires, the importance of healthy winter and summer ranges to these world-renowned wildlife herds was never more evident.

This helped propel RMEF and the federal and state agencies to assure that the rapid development brought on by the popularity of Yellowstone did not consume all the vital habitat beyond the Park's boundaries. It fit perfectly to the RMEF mission to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

Landowners who love the land and habitat are the key participants in this continued effort, as is the support from the state and federal land management agencies and other land trusts. Several private and public funding sources have been vital in these efforts, particularly the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is up for renewal in 2015 but RMEF members and our partners have been vital as well, contributing their time, talents and money to this effort.




Since 1984, the RMEF and its partners have carried out more than 8,600 projects that enhanced or conserved more than 6.4 million acres of habitat nationwide including 271 specific projects in the Greater Yellowstone Area valued at $88,832,826 and positively affecting 765,319 acres.

-Bob Springer
RMEF Project Development Specialist

(This article will appear in Conserve Montana – a Project of the Cinnabar Foundation.)