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

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Senate Appropriations Bill Takes Positive Steps to Improve Wildfire Disaster Funding

Below is a news release issued by The Nature Conservancy regarding wildfire disaster funding. Key to this effort is language that allows for access to the disaster cap.

Senate Appropriations Bill Takes Positive Steps to Improve Wildfire Disaster Funding

June 22, 2015 (Arlington, Va.) — The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved its FY2016 appropriations measure yesterday. In addition to ensuring wildfire suppression activities are fully funded in FY2016, the bill provides a disaster cap adjustment for wildfire fighting activities, which would fund certain wildfires similarly to other natural disasters.

The bill will be available for consideration by the full Senate Committee on Appropriations tomorrow. 

“The Senate’s Interior appropriations bill takes a significant step forward in helping to solve the fire funding problem, by funding a portion of wildfires like other natural disasters,” said Cecilia Clavet of The Nature Conservancy, on behalf of the Fire Suppression Funding Solutions Partner Caucus. “We are grateful for the leadership of subcommittee’s Chairwoman Murkowski, Ranking Member Udall and other committee members for helping break the “fire borrowing’ cycle which would allow agencies to focus more resources on important work such as reducing wildfire risk.”

Quotes from some of the many organizations supporting the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act:
“We applaud the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies for including important language on wildfire funding. The bill would not only provide emergency relief funding to protect our communities from more frequent and severe wildfires, but would also ensure that fire funding does not impact urgently needed resources for recreation infrastructure on federal lands - the crux of our local economies.” – Diana Madson, Executive Director of the Mountain Pact

“We are very pleased that the Subcommittee recognizes in their Bill, the reality that large wildfires are natural disasters, and should be funded as such. We are hopeful Congress as a whole will act to improve the health of the nation's forests, by taking similar action.” – Hank Kashdan, Legislative Director, National Association of Forest Service Retirees

“We applaud Senator Murkowski for her leadership in including critical fire cap adjustment language in the Senate Interior Appropriations bill. This is an important step in stopping future transfers and ensuring needed active forest management work is accomplished to improve the resiliency of our forests to uncharacteristic wildfire.” – Jay Farrell, Executive Director of the National Association of State Foresters

“Nearly 14,000 cabin owners on the National Forests are acutely affected by the threat and reality of wildfires. They applaud this very positive step towards improving wildfire suppression and more reasonable funding of wildfire fighting efforts.” – Aubrey King, Washington Representative for the National Forest Homeowners

“We appreciate the Subcommittee’s efforts on this important issue. Congress can stop fire borrowing and its harmful effects this year. Our forests and forestry professionals should not have to wait any longer for responsible and stable budgeting.” – Bob Alverts, President of the Society of American Foresters

“Providing access to disaster funding for emergency wildfires is a tremendous step forward in addressing this fire funding problem. It will limit the practice of ‘fire borrowing’ and therefore help make sure forest, recreation, and conservation programs do not suffer when suppression funds are depleted. We hope the House bill will follow suit, and look forward to working with the full Congress on a solution to this urgent and critical problem.” -- Kameran Onley, Director of U.S. Government Relations for The Nature Conservancy

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Artist Uses Deere to Create Elk

Courtesy Steel Pond Studios
What do you get when you have an old John Deere tractor, a couple of rifles, some used Honda motorcycle parts, a few axes and scores of hand tools? If you’re an artist with a creative flair, you apparently have all the makings for one of the largest and heaviest elk in the world.

Facebook follower Jason Spencer forwarded us this tale from the Pacific Northwest. It was his responsibility to load the approximately 6,800-pound beast onto his 14-foot trailer for a trip north from Hillsboro, Oregon, to the greater Seattle area. From there a 100-foot crane lifted and loaded it onto a barge in Kenmore for transportation.

The 20-mile water route began at the northern tip of Lake Washington, passed the University of Washington before continuing across Lake Union, floated through the Ballard Locks and into Shilshole Bay before heading south in the Puget Sound to its final destination at a waterfront home in Magnolia, the second largest neighborhood of Seattle. 

Courtesy Steel Pond Studios
Artist Travis Pond of Portland spent the last eight years working on it. His website, Steel Pond Studios, features a wide array of creative metal products including sculptures of birds, beasts and fish as well as garden work, chairs and tables, benches, railing and security, and other items. 

Pond’s online biography provides personal insight into why and how he carries out the artistic work that he does.

“Half of what I do is collecting materials. I look for objects with significance and meaning, objects that have connections to us as individuals and as a whole. The scraps I use are a part of our human history.

“For me, the question is never where to start; it is always when to stop. It is a constant look beyond the object, beyond the form, to what is next. Each circumstance, or in this case, each piece, spontaneously connects to the next.

“This seemingly random assortment of metal dictates its future in a very fast and spontaneous manner. Although I control the welds, the individual objects refuse to be forced into form. The sculpture decides for itself what it will look like and when it is complete.”
Robert Jefferson Travis Pond

In this case, that translates into a massive elk about 12 feet tall that gained a lot of attention as it turned heads and raised eyebrows during its migration to its new Washington home.

But that begs one obvious question: Why an elk?

“(Travis) is a hunter too. As a hunter, he has that respect for the animal. What he likes about the elk is what it represents,” said Bryan Ohno, Pond’s business partner and owner of Bryan Ohno Gallery.

Travis Pond
“I thought it was really cool and right down RMEF's alley,” wrote Spencer. “I have been a huge fan since I was a youngster and I'm proud to share this experience with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation family.”

Pre-finished product (courtesy Steel Pond Studios)

The final resting place

Team Effort Leads to Improved Michigan Elk Country

Pigeon River Country State Forest
There is strength in numbers and elk and elk habitat are the big winners in Michigan because of it. Volunteers from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation recently teamed up with the Michigan United Conservation Club (MUCC) to help the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) form a volunteer force of 45 strong who planted about 800 native trees in the Pigeon River Country State Forest.

“This particular project is our second one with MUCC. It’s very exciting to partner up with them. It’s a great time to be out here,” said Dan Johnson, RMEF Michigan state chair.

“This is a great partnership. We worked with Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation in the past. They supported our initiative to support hunting rights in Michigan from out-of-state anti-hunters and they do a ton of work here for elk in the Pigeon River country, for public land throughout Michigan and habitat throughout the state,” said Drew YoungeDyke, MUCC field manager.

The goal of the project was to establish native plants that will benefit wildlife before any invasive species have an opportunity to encroach in the area and help establish a border between private and public lands. The trees included serviceberry, ninebark, white oak and red oak, which will provide food and cover for elk, deer, grouse and other wildlife. 

Volunteers not only rolled up their sleeves and worked together side-by-side to improve habitat but they also shared a meal and talked about why they work for wildlife as members of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

“I’ve been involved with RMEF for 27 years. It’s a great organization. It does a lot of things for wildlife and does a lot of things for hunters,” said Scott Wheeldon of the RMEF Saginaw Chapter.

“I got involved about 15 years ago. We get out here in the Pigeon and we plant and tear fence down. It’s a great project. We have a great time and we’ll be back again,” said Mark Sommerman, Traverse Bay Chapter co-chair.

“We do the same thing in the fall. In September, we have a rendezvous and we get together to pick a project with the DNR. We get a group of volunteers together and we get that done,” added Johnson.

As another volunteer explained, “This is what sportsmen do—get out and do stuff for wildlife.”

Spoken like a true team member.

Friday, June 19, 2015

“Superhero” Bobsled Run Highlights Habitat Council 2015 Summer Retreat

RMEF Co-Founders Bob Munson (left)
and Charlie Decker
It was just like a scene from The Avengers. Well, sort of. Or was it the Cartoon Channel? Or was it an old-time comic book? Or maybe professional wrestling? However you want to categorize it, this was most infinitely better than any reality TV offering.

There they stood at the top of the bobsled track in Olympic Park—home of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Park City, Utah. Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Co-Founders Charlie Decker and Bob Munson were decked out in their “RMEF Luge Team” racing outfits about to climb on board a bobsled on the same track that 13 years, four months and one week to the day earlier featured the United States women upset heavily-favored German teams to win Olympic gold in front of a roaring American crowd in dramatic style. At the time, it was America’s first gold medal in the Olympic bobsled since 1954. 

This modern day RMEF founders bobsled run, too, was one filled with drama. Bob and Charlie’s sleek racing suits, let alone their competitive spirit, showed they had grand intentions for a chart-topping run down the .8 mile track. With dozens of RMEF members looking on, the founders took their place in the sled, hunkered down behind the driver and received a running push off their starting line. 

The sled screamed down the track, gaining speeds up to 70 miles per hour. The g-force acceleration, measured at about 5.0 g or roughly the same as a top fuel dragster, pushed the founders firmly back into their seated positions as they shot down the high-banked curves. When they roared across the finish line, the scoreboard said it all. Time: 1:01.39. Rank: 1!

That memory-making run was a great way to top off a great 2015 RMEF Summer Habitat Council (HC) Meeting and Retreat. The group gathers each summer to celebrate elk and elk country while helping to further RMEF’s mission, form new friendships and solidify long-lasting ties. In essence, it is much like a college or family reunion.

High West Distillery and Salloon
 The three-day event began with a gathering at the historic High West Distillery and Saloon in the historic downtown area. Built in 1914, the house was originally one of the only two-story Victorian style pyramid homes in Park City. The “National Garage,” home to today’s saloon, was originally a livery stable that serviced the workhouses that pulled heavy ore carts up and down to the mines. As automobiles became popular, the business started servicing cars. When the Silver King Coalition Mines Company building burned down in 1981, the heat was so intense it melted the paint away from several layers of re-painted signs to what you can see today.

HC members visited with each other, partook in heavy hors d’oeuvres, toured the distillery and learned about the intricacies of creating spirits of all sorts. They also had the opportunity to taste several different types of whiskey. 

The first full day in Park City began with a half-day meeting. HC members received mission updates from RMEF executive staff members.

“This is one of our shareholder or stockholder meetings as we view it. We are family. What brings us together is the appreciation we have for what we do,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. 

Chuck Roady
“I want to preserve places for my kids and my grandkids to be able to hunt and enjoy the outdoors. That lies at the core of the RMEF. That’s my passion and is what motivates me,” said Chuck Roady, RMEF chairman of the board. “I think we need to play a more active role in the policies of the government in the states and nationally. We need to take care of our resources and that means managing and utilizing them.”

RMEF Vice President of Lands and Conservation Blake Henning offered a presentation that highlighted recent RMEF conservation projects, mission accomplishment and upcoming land protection, habitat stewardship and access projects.

Blake Henning
Allen also expressed his appreciation for co-chairs Howard and Nancy Holland whose hard work and dedication has elevated the Habitat Council to new levels of activity and philanthropic giving.

“Habitat Council is what each and every one of you wants it to be. Your input is essential to make it the best organization it can be. One hundred percent of us are life members. There are ten couples who are here for the first time. This group is very special to us and we consider you all family,” said Nancy Holland. 

Other topics during the meeting included a review of HC’s strategic plan, various outreach and planned giving seminars as well as an overview of the upcoming field trip. 

An afternoon of free time allowed some HC members to kick up their feet and relax or take a trip to nearby Morgan, Utah, to visit the factory outlet store for Browning. Others shopped in town or headed to Olympic Park to have some fun on the bobsled track, zip line, adventure course or visit the Al Engen and Eccles Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games Museums. 

Vicki and Bob Munson
Marshall Moore
That night, more folks rolled into town for dinner at the Grub Steak Restaurant followed by a presentation by Hollywood insider Marshall Moore. As former director of the Utah Film Commission and long-time location manager for the popular TV series Touched by an Angel, Moore touched on the Utah film industry, Sundance Film Festival and he related several personal stories including memorable face-to-face interactions with Katharine Hepburn and Robert Redford.

The last full day of the retreat began with another highlight–a field trip to the 7,300-acre Seventh Heaven Ranch. RMEF took the lead in negotiating a conservation easement finalized in June of 2000 to permanently protect habitat for the vast array of wildlife that is found on the property including elk, mule deer, moose, bear, lion, fox, coyote, native trout and the threatened greater sage grouse. The property is historic in that the Donner Party, Mormon pioneers and Pony Express all crossed it in the past. The ranch also hosted lunch for the group. 
Hosts Tim & Matt Fenton, Seventh Heaven Ranch, Pony Express station 
The evening wrapped up with Bob and Charlie’s bobsled run at Olympic Park, a reception and private tour of the facility, dinner at the Women’s Start House and remarks delivered by Dave Jarret. Currently head coach of the U.S. Nordic Combined Team, Jarrett was also a member of the U.S. Ski Team from 1992 to 1998 and competed in both the 1994 and 1998 Winter Olympics.
Charlie, Dave Jarrett and Bob
All in all, it was a gold medal-winning kind of weekend for the Habitat Council and the RMEF. Just ask Bob and Charlie!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Happy Father's Day

Dear RMEF Family,

The third Sunday in June is always a special day for many of us—and it should be. It’s a day that is set aside to honor the fathers and father figures in our lives. Father’s Day is Sunday, June 21.

We owe a huge debt of gratitude to our fathers, many of whom introduced us to ethical hunting and the importance of conservation, wildlife and developing an appreciation for the beauty of the land and waters around us. There are many fathers throughout the volunteer and membership ranks of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation who are dedicated to ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. To them we say “thank you” for your love, enthusiasm and dedication.

However you plan to spend the weekend, whether fishing, hiking, camping or just grilling up some venison on the barbeque, let’s honor our fathers for all they have done for us.


M. David Allen
RMEF President/CEO

RMEF: Ensuring the Future of 'Other Wildlife'

Courtesy Sharlotte Hughes
It may not be readily evident, but elk and stream-dwelling fish have more in common than you might think.

Cow elk, trout and salmon all go to great lengths to put themselves in cool and secluded habitat to give birth to their young. Hunter-based conservation groups like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation sometimes don’t take enough credit for the tremendous benefits their projects provide for salmonids (salmon, trout, chars, freshwater whitefishes, and graylings), but the truth is that elk country conservation often protects or enhances riparian corridors benefitting an incredible array of species, fish very much included. Here are a few examples of how RMEF’s conservation efforts are boosting America’s fisheries:

Habitat enhancement
Bull trout
Sedimentation and high water temperatures factor heavily into fish population declines. Often, RMEF’s habitat enhancement projects improve streambank stability, reducing sedimentation and providing shade to help cool water temperatures, contributing to fish survival. Streambank stabilization efforts may include introduction of logs and branches in the streams that fish can use for cover. RMEF partners on dozens of projects across the country each year to provide alternative or off-channel water sources to minimize the effect of livestock on fragile riparian areas. Habitat projects sometimes include removal or improvement of culverts to maintain or improve stream flows and fish passage while providing more dependable water for elk and other wildlife.

Land Conservation
Permanently protecting land through purchase, exchanges and conservation easements provides habitat protection for both elk and cold water fish. RMEF’s Rock Creek project in Washington, Headwaters of the John Day in Oregon, Wapiti Meadows in Idaho and Ray Creek in Montana alone protected more than 70 “stream miles” of highly valued and often critical fish habitat, aiding at-risk fish such as bull trout, steelhead, westslope cutthroat trout, Yellowstone cutthroat trout and salmon.

Westslope cutthroat trout
Many local populations of bull trout, steelhead and salmon are listed as sensitive, threatened or endangered under the Federal Endangered Species Act. This classification means federal and state funds are available to restore these fish populations. Westslope cutthroat trout is a species of concern in Montana, Oregon and Washington. Each of these states is engaged in conservation work for their benefit. Yellowstone cutthroat trout is a species of concern in Idaho; and Idaho has a recovery plan for Yellowstone cutthroat trout.

Steelhead trout
Federal and state recovery plans include both habitat improvement and habitat protection—major priorities for RMEF as well. While RMEF focuses its efforts with elk as the primary beneficiary, its habitat enhancement efforts and land acquisitions are helping achieve recovery for at-risk salmon and trout. More on the four examples mentioned above:

Rock Creek, Washington
The 10,376-acre Rock Creek project, completed in 2011 with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and other partners, protected 38 stream miles. That included Gold Creek, which biologists say is essential for recovery of bull trout in this area. Annual surveys documented an average of 32 redds (nests) used by spawning bull trout on the project lands. Rock Creek and the North Fork of Wenas Creek also support westslope cutthroat trout. Milk Creek provides critical habitat for Chinook salmon. Juvenile Coho and Chinook salmon travel upstream onto the Rock Creek project site seeking rearing habitat. Because the project involves checkerboard ownership of federal and private lands, it actually benefited streams across a far larger area.

Headwaters of the John Day, Oregon
The 13,082-acre Headwaters project that RMEF completed with the US Forest Service in 2013 is not only a godsend for elk migrating between summer and winter range, but is truly a bonanza for salmon and trout. The Headwaters of the John Day River, this area hosts critical habitat for federally listed bull trout, Chinook salmon and steelhead. Guiding funding partners to the site, RMEF Lands Program Manager Bill Richardson was able to point out bull trout busy spawning in a few redds to the amazement of all in attendance. The project conserves 35 stream miles, but once again, due to the checkerboard pattern of federal and private ownership, RMEF’s acquisition also indirectly helps to protect the integrity of over 161 surrounding stream miles. Oregon has established species management units (SMUs) for federally listed species and for state-listed species at risk. The Headwaters portion of the westslope cutthroat trout SMU consists of 17 sub?populations. Redband trout, another state species at risk, can also be found here, which the state has stated it may also include in future management efforts. 

Pacific Lamprey: These eel-like fish deserve special mention in an article about the Headwaters of the John Day because they are a state-listed and culturally important species. The tribes are contributing to pacific lamprey surveys in the John Day River and furnishing reports to help guide recovery of their populations. 

Three adult lamprey
Wapiti Meadow, Idaho
The 128-acre Wapiti Meadow project is the smallest project in this summary, with just .47 stream miles. However, it has a big impact for Chinook salmon, steelhead and bull trout. Johnson Creek, which flows through the property, is critical habitat for Chinook salmon, bull trout and steelhead. Nez Perce Tribal Fisheries biologists are mapping Chinook redds in Johnson Creek, including this property, and reports an average of 134 redds for the Creek. According to a baseline analysis prepared for RMEF, 40 percent of steelhead smolt produced in the South Fork of the Salmon River originate from Johnson Creek. 

Ray Creek, Montana 
RMEF’s 988-acre land purchase on Ray Creek near Helena covers 2.24 stream miles. Now under US Forest Service ownership and management, this parcel is of great value to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MFWP), which is actively engaged in managing Ray Creek westslope cutthroat trout. In fact, Ray Creek is a prime source for pure-strain westslope cutthroat trout used in MFWP's efforts to restock at other locations in an effort to save this species.

Many RMEF elk projects benefit fish, and as noted above, can provide a huge boost to conservation efforts for salmon and trout fisheries. 

When RMEF secures public access, hunters look forward to exploring these landscapes, but it is also worth noting that when an access project includes streams and rivers, fishers benefit hugely as well.

Bob Springer
RMEF Program Development Specialist

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Montana Elk Habitat, Wolf Management Get Boost from RMEF Grants

Below is a complete listing of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s 2015 grants for the state of Montana. Find more information here

Beaverhead County—Remove encroaching conifers (mainly Douglas-fir) from a 106-acre mountain mahogany stand on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest to reduce competition and increase browse potential for ungulates; enhance upland sagebrush grasslands in the Proposal Rock area on the Wisdom Ranger District of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest with 367 acres of prescribed fire and 209 acres of mechanical lop and scatter to improve elk transition, summer range and calving areas as they travel from national forest to private lands in the Big Hole Valley and back; apply herbicide re-treatment to control large and remote spotted knapweed infestations on 236 acres of summer range and calving areas in the Plimpton and Bender drainages in the Big Hole Valley on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest; and burn 245 acres on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands on the north end of the West Pioneer Mountains near the Wise River to restore and maintain sagebrush meadows, aspen and riparian habitats, and reduce hazardous fuels in the wildland urban interface within a 4,800-acre project area.

Deerlodge County—Treat 665 acres of noxious weed infestations on Stucky Ridge which supports a strong population of elk, mule deer and bighorn sheep yearlong and is crucial winter range on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.

Flathead County—Remove encroaching conifers from 70 acres and target 272 acres for prescribed burning that were previously thinned to maintain a mix of cover and open foraging areas on winter range within historically open areas of Horse Ridge on the Spotted Bear Ranger District of the Flathead National Forests; and contribute to apply prescribed burn, weed treatment, and aspen regeneration efforts on 300 acres of the Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge as part of a management project to develop a protocol for future patch burning that replicates natural fire processes for the area.

Jefferson County—Reduce conifer encroachment on 480 acres of sagebrush grasslands coupled with follow-up weed treatments. Volunteers will remove old and excess fence that is a hazard to wildlife and assist with identifying noxious weed locations that will allow for an integrated noxious weed treatment plan to be developed and followed by subsequent treatment. RMEF is working to acquire and convey this private inholding in the Elkhorn Mountains to the Helena National Forest (also affects Broadwater County).

Lewis and Clark County—Treat 480 acres of noxious weeds, including 100 backcountry acres, on the Lewis and Clark National Forest bordering and within the Bob Marshall and Scapegoat Wilderness areas with a focus on treating known isolated patches and locating additional infestations to aid in early detection and eradication within vital habitat for elk, lynx, bighorn sheep, moose, mule deer, upland birds and a variety of other species (also affects Teton County).

Lincoln County—Treat invasive smooth brome and noxious weeds, thin small conifers and apply prescribed fire to restore winter range on 557 acres in the Tobacco Valley near the Canadian border in Northwest Montana on the Kootenai National Forest; chemically treat approximately 300 miles of roads (or 952 acres) as well as off-road spot spraying on adjacent field and sidehills that support wintering elk and deer away from roads on Plum Creek Timber, Stimson Lumber and state lands within the Fisher/Thompson Conservation Easement on the Kootenai National Forest; and apply prescribed fire to 1,815 acres, including backcountry areas where timber harvest is not feasible on the Kootenai National Forest near Troy, as part of an effort to implement 10,400 acres of prescribed burning on 23 units in addition to more than 800 acres of post-harvest underburn treatments to improve forage for elk, grizzly bears and a variety of other wildlife species.

Madison County—Treat 162 acres of isolated noxious weed patches that remain after previous aerial herbicide application in the Greenhorn Range of the Ruby River basin on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest in an area of high value to elk, moose, mule deer and bighorn sheep.

Missoula County—Thin and underburn 1,200 acres of ponderosa pine dominated forest to stimulate growth of browse and forage species on Lolo National Forest land where fire suppression has led to degradation of yearlong elk habitat, bordering private lands west of Missoula; aerially treat 159 acres of noxious weeds to improve forage on winter range in the Gilbert Creek drainage, a tributary to Rock Creek, on the Lolo National Forest; and sponsor OutdoorsFest 2015, a free family event in Bonner that offers education about wildlife, shooting a bow and outdoor activities.

Petroleum County—Conduct the largest prescribed burn carried out by the BLM in Montana to date on 6,700 acres of BLM and private lands northeast of Winnett to reduce conifer and juniper encroachment into native grass and sagebrush prairie thereby increasing production and diversity of forbs for elk and lowering the risk of high-severity, stand replacement wildfires. Mule deer, pronghorn, wild turkeys and other wildlife also benefit.

Powder River County—Prescribe burn up to 2,100 acres on the Stag Burn Unit south of Ashland on the Custer National Forest to reduce leaf litter and understory growth while reducing the chance of high severity wildfire in order to improve forage for elk, browse and forage for white-tailed and mule deer, pine seed production for wild turkey, and the prey base for goshawk (also affects Rosebud County).

Powell County—Enhance native grasses, forbs and shrubs, and promote aspen regeneration in a transition area between grasslands and dry timber stands on the Helena National Forest approximately 10 miles west of Lincoln. Treatments include 335 acres of thinning/burning and 400 acres of weed treatments (with some overlap).

Rosebud County—Prescribe burn up to 500 acres on the Red Rock Lake Burn Unit and 850 acres on the Brewster Burn Unit 21 miles south of Ashland on the Custer National Forest to reduce leaf litter and understory growth while reducing the chance of high severity wildfire in order to improve forage for elk, browse and forage for white-tailed and mule deer, pine seed production for wild turkey, and the prey base for goshawk.

Sanders County—Hand cut dense patches of small Douglas-fir trees on 100 acres of the Lolo National Forest in preparation for an underburn to improve big game winter range forage production without having the fire damage the larger overstory ponderosa pine trees. The project is part of the Cutoff project which aims to treat more than 7,000 acres of winter range over five to seven years in the lower Clark Fork River drainage between St. Regis and Quinn’s Hot Springs; and apply prescribed burn treatment to more than 1,400 acres of winter range habitat on the Lolo National Forest, working toward the target of burning more than 4,000 acres north of Thompson Falls.

Stillwater County—Treat approximately 250 acres of noxious weeds on federal, state and private lands within the Upper Stillwater River Watershed. The project is coordinated by the Stillwater Valley Watershed Council and involves many landowners through a cost-share program of combining efforts to cooperatively control noxious weeds across a 184,000-acre landscape (also affects Carbon County).

Sweetgrass County—Continue ongoing aspen management and prescribed burning projects on the Yellowstone Ranger District of the Gallatin National Forest and some adjacent private land with 100 acres of thinning and a 1,200-acre prescribed burn south of Big Timber.

Statewide—Provide funding for dues/sponsorship of the Montana Association of Land Trusts which promotes and supports excellence in private voluntary land conservation across Montana including work on making the federal enhanced conservation tax incentives permanent, creating a new state stewardship fund for sagebrush and sage grouse conservation through the Montana Legislature, continuing efforts to make the USDA Agricultural Land Easement Program and Regional Conservation Partnership Program more productive and more effective in Montana, and working with the University of Montana Law Clinic on legal projects that benefit Montana land trusts; and sponsor the Be Bear Aware Campaign which provides bear avoidance safety events throughout northern Idaho and western Montana.

Western Montana—Provide $50,000 in funding to assist Montana’s wolf management plan. The funding, $25,000 to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Park and $25,000 to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, provides for additional collaring of wolves to expand the science related to wolf pack locations, size and home ranges as well as resolving wolf conflicts associated with livestock depredation.

Partners for the Montana projects include the Beaverhead-Deerlodge, Custer, Flathead, Gallatin, Helena, Kootenai, Lewis and Clark, Lolo National Forests, Bureau of Land Management, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, private landowners and various sportsmen, wildlife, civic, and government organizations.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Call to Action: Push for Forestry Reform in Congress

RMEF Members,

Urge your Congressional representatives to support the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2015! 

As you know, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is a strong advocate for increased management of our forests not only to improve habitat for elk and other wildlife but overall forest health. Members of the Natural Resources Committee in the House of Representatives are scheduled to vote on a bill Thursday, June 11, that will give the U.S. Forest Service the tools to do just that. 

H.R. 2647 contains many valuable ideas for forest management, including direct input from RMEF. Here are a few highlighted provisions that would benefit sportsmen and habitat: 

  • Encourages and speeds Forest Service backlogs for wildlife habitat improvement for elk, deer, wild turkey, ruffed grouse and other “early seral” species 
  • Authorizes a categorical exclusion to improve, enhance, or create early successional forests for wildlife habitat improvement. 
  • Authorizes a categorical exclusion for insect and disease, to reduce hazardous fuel loads, protect municipal watersheds, improve or enhance critical habitat, to increase water yield, or any combination of the purposes listed above 
  • Seeks to reduce the incentives and threat of litigation, which has encumbered half of the Forest Service’s forest management projects and has largely been filed by groups who have not been willing to participate in the collaborative process 
  • State wildlife managers should be given a more formal role in efforts to restore habitat that achieves wildlife population goals 
The bottom line is this legislation is the start of a push for much-needed forestry reform. 

Again, we encourage sportsmen and women to reach out to your representatives by calling (202) 225-2761 to speak with staff for one of the members of the committee below, and urge them to vote YES on H.R. 2647 prior to Thursday’s vote. 


David Allen 
RMEF President and CEO

Natural Resources Committee members:

Rob Bishop, UT, Chair
Don Young, AK
Louie Gohmert, TX
Doug Lamborn, CO
Rob Wittman, VA
John Flemming, LA
Tom McClintock, CA
Glenn Thompson, PA
Cynthia Lummis, WY
Dan Benishek, MI
Jeff Duncan, SC
Paul Gosar, AZ
Raul Labrador, ID
Doug LaMalfa, CA
Jeff Denham, CA
Paul Cook, CA
Bruce Westerman, AR
Garret Graves, LA
Dan Newhouse, WA
Ryan Zinke, MT
Jody Hice, GA
Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen, AS
Tom MacArthur, NJ
Alex Mooney, WV
Cresent Hardy, NV

Raul Grijalva, AZ, ranking member
Grace Napolitano, CA
Madeleine Bordallo, GU
Jim Costa, CA
Niki Tsongas, MA
Pedro Pierluisi, PR
Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, MP
Jared Huffman, CA
Raul Ruiz, CA
Alan Lowenthal, CA
Matt Cartwright, PA
Don Beyer, VA
Norma Torres, CA
Debbie Dingell, MI
Mark Takai, HI
Ruben Gallego, AZ
Lois Capps, CA
Jared Polis, CO

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Support for Hunting Remains High

A new survey indicates that Americans remain consistent in their support of hunting. Responsive Management conducted a scientific telephone survey in February and found that 77 percent of Americans strongly or moderately approve of hunting.

“Hunting is a way of life for many of us. Most Americans recognize and agree with that,” said David Allen, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation president and CEO. “Hunting is conservation! It has a tremendous positive impact on wildlife and wildlife habitat.”

The findings continue a similar positive trend over the last two decades. Survey respondents expressed their approval of hunting to the tune of 75 percent in 2003, 78 percent in 2006, 74 percent in 2001, and 79 percent in 2013. Conversely, the overall disapproval of hunting continues to level off and even drop over the long run. According to survey data, the rate measured 22 percent in 1985 and just 12 percent in 2015 (see graph below).

The findings also suggest that Americans’ support for hunting is conditionally based on varying factors. Respondents overwhelmingly approved of hunting for meat, to protect humans from harm, for animal population control, for wildlife management and to protect property (see graph below).

Hunting approval varies considerably according to species with deer, wild turkey, small game, waterfowl and elk topping the list (see graph below). 

Data also points to the impact of the specific method of hunting in influencing overall approval or disapproval. More than half of the respondents approve of hunting with dogs but less than half support high-fence preserves, using special scents and hunting over bait among other choices (see graph below).

Other factors have a tendency to influence one’s opinion of hunting including where a person lives, their age, ethnicity, exposure to eating wild game and if they have a family member or friend that is a hunter.

Hunting and the shooting sports industry also fund America’s conservation efforts. Recent statistics show hunters and anglers generated $1.1 billion in 2014 which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service distributed to state and territorial agencies to support conservation and recreation projects.

“Hunting has a tremendous and measureable link to conservation. Hunters deserve to be proud of their contributions to wildlife, habitat and resource management,” added Allen.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Conserving Elk Country, One Click at a Time

Courtesy Warren Walker
One person can make a difference. Members and volunteers of Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation make a difference for elk and elk country every day. And when it comes to furthering RMEF’s mission of ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage, one person can make a $25,000 difference with just the click of a mouse.

That’s because our conservation partners at Nationwide Insurance again invited RMEF to take part in its Preserve Your Passion contest. Outdoor lovers will have the opportunity to vote online for their favorite conservation effort. We would like to earn your vote. Here’s our pitch: 

Celebrating its fourth decade of ensuring the future of elk, elk country and our hunting heritage, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation conducted more than 9,300 projects to date, enhancing or protecting more than 6.6 million acres of habitat. Along the way, RMEF also opened or secured public access to 769,302 acres for hunters and others to enjoy. In addition, RMEF helped restore elk to their native range in six states and helped protect winter and summer ranges, migration corridors, calving grounds and other crucial areas for elk and a vast array of wildlife. 

The competition begins on June 2, 2015, and runs through June 30. You can vote one time per day.

Go HERE and make sure you click on the RMEF logo before casting your vote for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Fill in your personal information on the right and click the "Submit Your Vote Now" button.

Here’s the breakdown of prize money:
  • $25,000 grand prize
  • $10,000 runner-up 
  • $5,000 third place 
  • $2,000 to all other participants 
Last year, RMEF finished in a tie for second place and received a $5,000 donation from Nationwide. 

As always, thank you for your continuing support!