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

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!

1 comment:

  1. First time attending this event and it was outstanding! Made a lot of new friends and look forward to Branson next year! If you aren't on the council, make the commitment and become part of this great group of people!