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

Monday, July 20, 2015

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)

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