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

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

How Conservation Easements Benefit Wildlife and Hunters

Protecting vital habitat lies at the core of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s mission to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. But what if that habitat is on private land?

RMEF will often meet with private landowners to talk about placing a conservation easement on their property. A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement with a landowner that will forever protect the land from development and other uses that could diminish its wildlife habitat values, but still allows for many traditional land uses such as farming and ranching. The land remains in private ownership and in many instances the landowner may qualify for tax benefits. Although it is not required, RMEF also encourages landowners to allow public access. 

How do conservation easements benefit hunters who may not have access to those private lands? Randy Newberg, RMEF board member and avid public lands hunter, explains below.

RMEF is most interested in private working lands that are high quality elk habitat and working ranch lands, near elk migration routes or are large enough to support elk populations and include valuable water, range land and forest resources.

To date, RMEF currently holds more than 200 conservation easements across 16 different states that protect more than 375,000 acres. 

Go here to learn more about RMEF’s conservation efforts.

Monday, July 20, 2015

RMEF, Guidefitter Join Forces to Promote Hunting, Conservation

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is proud to welcome Guidefitter on board as a new conservation partner.

Guidefitter touts itself as an online community for the outfitting industry, bringing together sportspersons, guides, outfitters, and the organizations and brands that serve them.

“We view this association as yet another way to serve our membership,” said Steve Decker, RMEF vice president of Marketing. “Guidefitter is a benefit for members seeking guided hunts as well as those outfitters who support RMEF and our mission.” 

Guidefitter provides a marketing and business platform for outfitters, helping them connect to an engaged audience of sporting enthusiasts and equipping them with cloud-based and mobile apps to better manage their business.

Guidefitter also offers an outfitter index, hunting stories, news and advice, and has a television show, Guidefitter TV, which highlights hunting adventures inside and outside the United States.

“RMEF and Guidefitter will offer a series of cross-promotional efforts that will be mutually beneficial to outdoorsmen and women who enjoy our wildlife and wild places,” added Decker.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Founded over 30 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of more than 205,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 6.6 million acres for elk and other wildlife. RMEF also works to open and improve public access, fund and advocate for science-based resource management, and ensure the future of America’s hunting heritage. Discover why “Hunting Is Conservation™” at www.rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.

Celebrating a Conservation Achievement

The noise was as distinctive and unmistakable to Montana as the beauty of its Big Sky slogan. The location was, well, somewhat ironic.

Tenderfoot Creek
A cow elk call delivered by Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Lands Program Manager Mike Mueller echoed from wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling in the historic 116-year-old Montana Capitol Rotunda. What followed high above the main gathering was the bugle call of a young bull elk delivered by a young caller followed quickly by a rival call from another young caller just across the way. And then, like a dominant bull proclaiming superiority over the herd, came a bellowing, aggressive response via the bugle tube of four-time world elk calling champion Dieter Kaboth. It was a most fitting way to cap off an afternoon of celebration.

Approximately 100 people gathered on a summer afternoon in Montana’s capital city of Helena to dedicate and celebrate an historic land project eight years in the making. They came from as close as the Montana governor’s office down the hall to as far away as the halls of our nation’s capital in Washington D.C. Among them were RMEF representatives and their project partners from the Bair Ranch Foundation, U.S. Forest Service, Tenderfoot Trust and many other friends and supporters. 

The 8,221-acre Tenderfoot Creek drainage acquisition was finally complete and the 640 formerly checkerboard pattern of private and public ownership sections were now under public ownership and open for permanent public access for all to enjoy. Its crucial habitat for elk, moose, deer, black bear, mountain lions and a multitude of other species like west slope cutthroat trout was finally forever protected.

Governor Steve Bullock (D-MT)
“You built the right partnerships. You built trust. You got it done with hard work that all Montanans will benefit, indeed all Americans will benefit. And for that I do have to say thank you.”

Robert Bonnie/Undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture
“I can tell you the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is not only a critical resource here but across the country. They do fabulous work for elk habitat, for access in great partnership with the Forest Service and have obviously played a critical role here.”

Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) (via video statement)
“Thank you for your commitment for protecting some of our best outdoor places. Thanks to the efforts of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the Tenderfoot Partnership, the Bair Ranch Foundation, and the Forest Service and so many others, this piece of land will be protected for generations to come.”

Senator Steve Daines (R-MT)
“It’s more than about a map. It’s about the memories that are created because of the access to our public lands.”

Wayne Hirsch/President Bair Ranch Foundation
“This was the right decision for the people of Montana and especially for the people of this great country because we do need to be grounded in Mother Nature. It brings us all back to our roots."

Ernie Nunn/Tenderfoot Trust
“I know there was already an offer out from a neighboring rancher for this property. The opportunity was wide open and that’s when the Tenderfoot Trust started to make a move."

Mitch Godfrey/Tenderfoot Trust
“The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is about elk but they also had two bird studies down there. They had fish studies. I can’t say enough about the Elk Foundation. What a great organization.”

Chuck Roady/RMEF Board of Directors, Chairman
 “Our important work is conserving these threatened resources yet the RMEF is dedicated and engaged to improving public access to our existing public lands and protecting quality wildlife habitat. We want to work with landowners like the Bair Ranch Foundation all over the country with our public agency partners to protect our national treasures like Tenderfoot.”

Those are words and actions worth bugling about!

Mitch Godfrey/Tenderfoot Trust, Bill Avey/Lewis & Clark National Forest, Chuck Roady/RMEF Board
of Directors, Butch Marita/Tenderfoot Trust. Steve Daines/Montana Senator, Steve Bullock/Montana 
Governor,  Robert Bonnie/Department of Agriculture,William Hirsch/Bair Ranch Foundation, 
Glen Hough/Bair Ranch Foundation and Ernie Nunn/Tenderfoot Trust (left to right)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Idaho Elk Habitat, Research, Wolf Management Benefit from RMEF Grants

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

Ada County—Provide funding to complete the final .23 miles of wildlife exclusion fence that will safely funnel big game species from upland areas to an underpass where they can safely cross beneath State Highway 21, reducing the risk and number of collisions on this section of the highway on the Boise River Wildlife Management Area.

Bear Lake County—Replace 5,800 feet of dilapidated boundary fence on the Georgetown Wildlife Management Area with wildlife friendly let-down fence to keep out cattle from neighboring livestock operations; and apply herbicide treatment to 577 acres of scattered, backcountry noxious weed infestations on crucial big game winter range in the Montpelier Ranger District on the Targhee National Forest (also benefits Caribou, Bonneville and Franklin Counties).

Boise County—Provide funding and RMEF volunteer manpower to host a SAFE Challenge event at the Boise Sports Show to educate youth about proper gun handling and safety.

Bonneville County—Burn approximately 600 acres and mechanically slash 200 acres on the Targhee National Forest as part of a larger 6,900-acre project to remove encroaching conifers from aspen stands in important habitat for elk calving and mule deer fawning on the Teton Ranger District (also benefits Teton County); and apply prescribed burning and follow-up noxious weed treatments on 1,462 acres of Fall and Bear Creeks eight miles southwest of Swan Valley in the Caribou National Forest to improve aspen habitat.

Boundary County—Prescribe burn up to 1,000 acres in the Deer Creek drainage (a tributary of the Moyie River) as part of a multi-year burn project aimed at improving wildlife habitat and reducing the risk of future catastrophic in the southern portion of the Purcell Mountains on the Idaho Panhandle National Forest.

Camas County—Treat 300 acres of weed infestations scattered across the Fairfield and Ketchum Ranger Districts on the Sawtooth National Forest by focusing on elk winter range areas burned by wildfires in 2007, 2008 and 2013 (also benefits Blaine and Elmore Counties).

Clearwater County—Provide Torstenson Family Endowment (TFE) funds for the third year of research to implement a monitoring program for elk in the Clearwater Basin. Initial work will include establishing a land use habitat matrix for the Basin to be used as the foundation for management and monitoring of elk, applying the new Oregon-Washington elk nutrition and habitat models, and capturing and collaring wild elk for subsequent monitoring which will help managers decide where habitat treatments need to be made and also develop a prioritization for future work (also affects Idaho County); and provide funding for the Clearwater Basin Collaborative, a citizen-led partnership with federal, state, private and tribal collaborators, which is proposing extensive landscape restoration of early-seral habitat to meet ecosystem goals and services, including the restoration of healthy elk habitats and populations (also benefits Idaho County).

Idaho County—Burn approximately 10,000 acres of elk crucial winter and summer range in the Clearwater Basin on the Clearwater and Nez Perce National Forests as part of an ongoing effort to improve elk habitat using prescribed fire (also benefits Clearwater County).

Owyhee County—Slash and girdle juniper on 1,537 acres in the Pole Creek area on Bureau of Land Management land in preparation for future prescribed burning to restore and maintain shrub steppe and aspen communities to benefit elk and other wildlife.

Twin Falls County—Used TFE funding to award an elk education trunk to Kimberly Elementary School in Kimberly.

Statewide—Provide $50,000 to assist Idaho’s wolf management plan. The funding goes toward hiring a wolf tracking expert to assist in locating non-documented wolf packs as well as documenting mid-winter pack composition through aerial tracking and remote camera work; and provide funding for the Idaho Sportsmen's Caucus Advisory Council – an association of approximately 30 hunting, fishing and trapping organizations from throughout Idaho that reviews issues in the Idaho Legislature, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game Commission and the Department of Fish and Game, among other agencies, regarding significant issues such as Chronic Wasting Disease, game farms, habitat issues, fishing and hunting access and big game tag availability.

Partners for the Idaho projects include the Caribou-Targhee, Idaho Panhandle, Nez Perce-Clearwater and Sawtooth National Forests, Bureau of Land Management, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, and various other tribal, civic and government organizations.

TFE funding is only used to further RMEF’s core mission programs of permanent land protection, habitat stewardship, elk restoration and hunting heritage.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Tenderfoot Creek Drainage Land Acquisition Completed

Great Falls, Montana (July 9, 2015) – An eight year public land conservation effort was recently achieved in central Montana. In 2007 The Bair Ranch Foundation a philanthropic Montana foundation, offered to sell 8,221 acres located within the Tenderfoot Creek drainage in Meagher County, Montana with the stated desire that the land be incorporated into the surrounding Lewis & Clark National Forest. The Bair Ranch Foundation recognized the outstanding recreation, wildlife, and resource values and wanted to ensure that those values and public access into the area be conserved for present and future generations.

“The Bair Ranch Foundation, in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service and partners, is pleased to provide the citizens of this great state and this country the opportunity to enjoy Mother Nature at its best into perpetuity,” said Wayne Hirsch, President of The Bair Ranch Foundation.

The 8,221 acres was not one contiguous parcel, but rather consisted of 640 acre sections and partial sections each surrounded by National Forest lands in a checkerboard style.

From 2010 through 2015 nine phased land acquisitions were completed as funding was available. With the recent completion of the final phase, all 8,221 acres has now been consolidated into the Lewis and Clark National Forest. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Tenderfoot Trust were the principal conservation partners working on this project with over 30 MT sportsmen groups aiding the effort by helping to raise broad awareness and support for this unique opportunity. 

 “The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is proud to team up with worthy partners to see this long-time conservation project finally come to pass in totality,” said Chuck Roady, chairman of the RMEF board of directors. “Not only did we work together to conserve a vital piece of Montana elk country, but moose, deer, native westslope cutthroat trout and a wide variety of other species are also benefactors plus the land is now open to permanent public access for hunters, anglers, hikers and others to enjoy.”

Projects like the Tenderfoot acquisition can increase management efficiency by blocking up ownership. They reduce the need for boundary fences, reduce the chance for inadvertent trespass on private lands, and compliment efforts to control noxious weeds and aid in reducing the incidence and cost of controlling wildfire. However, for many supporters the ultimate gift of the Tenderfoot land acquisition is the legacy of future generations of people and healthy wildlife populations continuing to thrive across that landscape into perpetuity. 

 “Throughout this project, the public has told us how glad they are that this area will be conserved,” said Carol Hatfield, White Sulphur Springs District Ranger. “People have told us they think this is a great project. Even those who may never actually use the area support the acquisition for its long term conservation values and preservation of access for current and future generations.” 

Collectively, the project’s partners and other supporters raised approximately $500,000 of the roughly $10,600,000 needed to complete this acquisition. The balance of the funding was provided through Land and Water Conservation Act funding. Montana’s Governor has also been a strong supporter of the Tenderfoot acquisition as well as the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) which made this acquisition possible. 

 “From fishing access sites, to trails, to playgrounds, to smart investments like the Tenderfoot, the LWCF is a win-win for Montana. The Tenderfoot is an exceptional example of how Montanans can work together to protect our public lands for future generations,” said Gov. Steve Bullock. 

From the project’s start in 2007 through its recent completion, The Bair Ranch Foundation consistently worked with the other partners towards completing this project. 

 “We all appreciate The Bair Ranch Foundation’s patience and generosity in working with the partners to complete the acquisition of these lands by the Forest Service,” said Butch Marita, Chairman of the Tenderfoot Trust. “This acquisition took five years longer than we anticipated due to limited Land and Water Conservation Fund dollars. The Bair Ranch Foundation stuck with us in spite of these delays and additionally they contributed 5% of the sale price to a fund that has been set up to support the future management of the area. All of us who care about wildlife and wild places owe them a depth of gratitude.”

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Call to Action: Urge House to Pass Forestry Reform Bill

RMEF Members,

Urge the House of Representatives to support the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2015

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is a staunch advocate for increased management of our forests to improve habitat for elk and other wildlife as well as overall forest health. The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on a bill Thursday, July 9, that will give the U.S. Forest Service the tools needed to do just that.

The Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2015, or H.R. 2647, is the start of a push for much-needed forestry reform. It 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
  • 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 that have not been willing to participate in the collaborative process 
  • Allows the Forest Service to tap disaster funds during bad wildfire years when the costs exceed what Congress has appropriated, thereby protecting other accounts from being depleted that pay for recreation and habitat enhancement 
Find your congressional representative here. Go here to email your representative and urge them to vote YES on H.R. 2647 before Thursday’s vote.

Thank you for giving attention to this most worthy effort.


David Allen
RMEF President and CEO

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

25,000 Reasons to Give Thanks

"No one who achieves success does so without the help of others.”
Alfred North Whitehead

Those words ring especially true at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. We are grateful for volunteers, members, supporters, sponsors, outdoorsmen and women, and all others who assist us in carrying out our shared mission to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

The bottom line is we at the RMEF have many, many things to be grateful for. Among the latest is a $25,000 donation from our friends at Nationwide Insurance. RMEF received the most votes in Nationwide’s month-long Preserve Your Passion contest so we’re sending out our gratitude for all those who supported us in the voting. And a special THANK YOU to Nationwide for creating the contest and garnering more awareness and support for land and wildlife conservation!

RMEF also wishes to thank and congratulate the supporters and followers of our sister conservation organizations who are also doing wonderful things to benefit conservation from coast to coast. 

As John F. Kennedy, our 35th president once said, "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them." 

And that’s exactly what we will continue to do!

Happy Independence Day

RMEF family,

It may seem fairly redundant but simply put there is no holiday that is more American than Independence Day. 

July 4th commemorates America’s official adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, which declared the United States’ independence from Great Britain. 

This holiday calls us all to honor the freedoms we all enjoy. Our freedom should not be taken lightly or for granted. Much was sacrificed for us to enjoy the freedom and independence we have. Let’s honor it and protect it for all who follow us.

On behalf of all of us at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, have a safe and enjoyable Independence Day.


M. David Allen
RMEF President/CEO