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

Monday, August 24, 2015

Wyoming Receives $438,000 in RMEF Grants to Benefit Elk, Elk Habitat

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

Bighorn County—Implement a mixture of aerial and hand ignition prescribed burning for 3,000 acres in sagebrush and conifer habitats across the Bighorn National Forest to improve forage on big game winter, summer and transitional ranges (also affects Washakie, Sheridan, and Johnson Counties); remove encroaching juniper and conifers on 405 acres of sagebrush steppe habitat in the final phase of the Black Mountain Juniper Removal project initiated in 2012 totaling more than 1,000 acres of treatment across Bureau of Land Management (BLM), state and private lands to improve elk and mule deer crucial winter range and sage-grouse habitat; apply mechanical thinning and prescribed fire treatment to approximately 30 acres of encroached riparian areas and 500 acres of juniper and sagebrush habitat within the Bighorn Mountains on BLM land to enhance habitat for elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep and sage-grouse; and thin conifers within aspen stands and then apply prescribed burning to 944 acres to improve crucial winter range on the Medicine Lodge Wildlife Habitat Management Area and BLM lands to create a mosaic of grass, forbs, sagebrush and aspen stands that help better disperse elk.

Carbon County—Burn 660 acres of older age class shrubs and 206 acres of mixed conifer and decadent aspen stands in the northern Sierra Madre Range on the Medicine Bow National Forest; convert 4.5 miles of dilapidated five-wire and sheep fence to wildlife-friendly fence on private lands in the Beaver Hills to maintain elk, mule deer and other wildlife migration corridors and accessibility to winter range while providing for an infrastructure that will improve the livestock grazing system; mechanically remove encroaching conifers from 1,542 acres including sagebrush, mountain shrub slopes, aspen woodlands and riparian habitats on Bradley Peak in the Seminoe Mountains on BLM and private lands to benefit elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep and greater sage-grouse; treat cheatgrass on 275 acres, seed an additional 110-acre meadow, improve irrigation infrastructure and reclaim 10 miles of decommissioned roads on the Pennock Wildlife Habitat Management Area which provides yearlong and crucial winter range for elk and mule deer as well as sage grouse brood rearing habitat in the Upper North Platte River Valley; provide funding for 13 more GPS collars in an ongoing study to monitor elk habitat use in relation to beetle kill trees in the Sierra Madre Range on the Medicine Bow National Forest to provide an assessment of elk movement and forest use prior to, during and after massive tree fall which will aide managers in decisions impacting elk hunting in the area; and install a pipeline in the Heward ditch which increases irrigated acres from 250 to 500 to provide additional forage for 600-800 elk that winter on the Wick/Beumee Wildlife Habitat Management Area five miles west of Arlington.

Converse County—Provide funding to assist with volunteer recognition and training, the Wyoming 4-H Shooting Sports program and 3D Archery shoot which involve approximately 3,800 youth across the state in a shooting and outdoor skills competition where they can test their knowledge and skills. 

Fremont County—Replace about a mile of dilapidated barbed wire fence with wildlife-friendly pole top fencing to allow wildlife access without injury while keeping livestock off a pasture reserved for wildlife winter range including 500-600 wintering elk on the Red Canyon Wildlife Habitat Management Area; install a pivot sprinkler to efficiently irrigate the 125-acre Sideroll Meadow on the Spence/Moriarity Wildlife Habitat Management Area which will improve forage for the East Fork and Wiggins elk herds, increase hay production for Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) feedgrounds in western Wyoming, improve habitat for Yellowstone cutthroat trout, cut irrigation system maintenance costs and help with weed suppression in an area that is winter range for approximately 4,500 elk—one of the largest unfed concentrations of elk in Wyoming; and improve 800 acres of aspen stands in the South Pass area in the southern Wind River Range on the Shoshone National Forest using lop and scatter and pile and burn methods to thin conifers as part of a multi-year project addressing aspen regeneration, mountain shrubs, willows and other habitat within a 60,000-acre area.

Hot Springs County—Provide funding for supplies and equipment for the Hot Springs County 4-H Shooting Sports’ growing program, which increased its membership from 13 in 2013 to 95 in 2015, providing instruction in archery, air rifle, muzzleloader, rifle, and shotgun; and provide funding for Hot Springs County 4-H to implement a digital shooting system that can be installed in its shooting sports trailer to be used for both archery and firearms.

Johnson County—Treat 450 acres to control cheatgrass in an area burned by wildfire in 2014, complementing a multi-year habitat improvement and hazardous fuels reduction project west of Buffalo, along US Highway 16 and the Clear Creek corridor on city, private and BLM lands.

Lincoln County—Apply continued aggressive control of noxious weeds using herbicide, hand-pulling and biological control methods across the Greys River Ranger District on the Teton National Forest along roads and trails, within campgrounds and in backcountry areas in a region known for high quality summer and transition range for the Afton elk herd as well as mule deer, moose and other wildlife.

Natrona County—Selectively remove juniper from 45 acres on the Haygood tract, followed with pile burning to increase and improve forage on year-long habitat for the Laramie Peak-Muddy Mountain elk herd and crucial mule deer winter range as part of a 20-year project using a combination of hand, mechanical and prescribed fire techniques across 12,000 acres in the Bates Hole area on private and BLM lands.

Park County—Provide funding for research to increase the scientific, agency, and public understanding, management and conservation of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s migratory elk herds by compiling current data, evaluating seasonal influences, improving monitoring methods and providing outreach (also affects Teton and Fremont Counties); enhance 23 acres of aspen in the Absaroka Front drainages of Enos and Middle Creeks on BLM and private lands by thinning encroaching conifers and placing them to inhibit ungulate browsing and promote aspen regeneration; thin juniper and Douglas fir from 20 acres of mixed sagebrush and aspen communities to enhance forage production on yearlong habitat with crucial winter range for elk, mule deer and a small population of bighorn sheep on the west slope of the Absaroka Range on BLM land in an area that also provides habitat for pronghorn, blue grouse, chukkar and gray partridge; remove two miles of existing fence encompassing the Sunlight Basin Wildlife Habitat Management Area and replace it with wildlife friendly fencing to prevent injury to wildlife in an area where about 900 elk spend the winter which is also home to moose, mule deer and bighorn sheep; and mechanically thin conifers from 178 acres of aspen stands and riparian habitat for the Gooseberry Elk Herd in the Dick Creek area of the Absaroka Range on the Shoshone National Forest as part of a larger vegetation management project within the Greybull Ranger District involving 2,570 acres of commercial timber harvest, 4,670 acres of prescribed burning, and 220 acres of planting, to improve forest health and wildlife habitat while reducing hazardous fuels

Sheridan County—Assist with sponsorship of the Wyoming Women’s Foundation’s Third Annual Women’s Antelope Hunt which places an emphasis on safety, hunting ethics and mentoring for women.

Sublette County—Burn the final 611 acres of the Cottonwood II Vegetation Management Project, a 1,176-acre aspen enhancement project on the east slope of the Wyoming Range in the North and South Cottonwood Creek drainages on the Bridger-Teton National Forest, following pre-burn thinning to enhance aspen stands which can attract elk from feedgrounds earlier in the spring and hold elk later in autumn, subsequently reducing dependency on artificial feeding and reducing the risk of intraspecific brucellosis transmission;; mechanically slash and pile conifers from aspen stands on approximately 613 acres of BLM lands to promote aspen regeneration and create wildfire fuelbreaks on the east slope of the Wyoming Front in an area used year-round by elk including native winter range, calving and summer habitat; and contribute to the costs of securing a donated conservation easement on 280 acres of private land identified as crucial range for elk, mule deer and moose which lies within a designated core breeding area for greater sage-grouse. 

Teton County—Apply prescribed fire to more than 2,000 acres of a 6,700-acre project area in the Teton Basin on the Targhee National Forest which promotes a diverse habitat with early seral aspen, mountain shrubs and other grasses and forbs in an area that is transitional, summer and calving ranges for elk, mule deer and moose; provide funding for a study to capture and place GPS-collars on 10 elk to increase the sample size from 10 to 20 for an elk migration monitoring project that gathers information about migration timing, calf production and adult survival where there is a decline in the migratory portion of the Jackson Elk Herd that summers in southern Yellowstone National Park, Teton Wilderness and the National Elk Refuge; and treat noxious weeds on 460 acres in the Gros Ventre River Corridor, first targeting new infestations followed by reducing the spread of existing lower priority weeds on yearlong and crucial elk winter range in an area that provides habitat for approximately 2,400 elk, 200 bighorn sheep, moose , mule deer, bison, grizzly bear, sage grouse, Snake River cutthroat trout, trumpeter swan and other species.

Sweetwater County—Thin conifers from 92 acres in preparation for a 1,000-acre prescribed burn planned for 2016 with goals of improving crucial winter range and stimulating aspen sprouting within decadent stands south of Telephone Canyon in the Little Red Creek drainage on BLM and state lands in an area that is crucial winter range and important riparian habitat for cutthroat trout.

Weston County—Reduce conifer density by at least 50 percent across 580 acres of state and private lands to improve forage for elk, mule deer and turkeys, and nesting cover for a variety of wildlife, and reduce the risk of future catastrophic wildfire in an area that is the main corridor between winter and summer range for a variety of wildlife species in the southern Black Hills. 

Statewide—Continue sponsorship of the WGFD’s Private Lands Public Wildlife Access Program that works to secure access for hunters and anglers to private lands; provide Torstenson Family Endowment (TFE) funds to pay for the donation of 1,500 RMEF youth membership knives to students of WGFD hunter education classes; provide funding to compile all current information on Wyoming's ungulate migrations to be used in a book and in an online database; provide funding to improve wildlife habitat on various lands used by Wyoming Disabled Hunters which offers hunting opportunities for disabled hunters from across the country; and provide funding to assist the Forever Wild Families program which creates lifelong anglers and hunters by offering families multiple opportunities to experience various hunting and fishing related activities.

Nationwide—Provide funding for the Honoring Our Veterans program which brings wounded veterans to the Jackson Hole area to engage in recreational and social rehabilitation activities including hunting. 

Partners for the Wyoming projects include the Bighorn, Bridger-Teton, Caribou-Targhee, Medicine Bow-Routt, and Shoshone National Forests, Bureau of Land Management, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, private landowners and various sportsmen, wildlife, civic, university 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. 

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