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

Friday, December 11, 2015

Colorado Habitat Benefits from RMEF Grant Funding

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

Chaffee County—Burn 250 acres at varying intensities to stimulate mountain mahogany sprouting and reduce pinyon-juniper invasion into grassland, reduce dead and down fuels and duff layer within the Salida Ranger District on the San Isabel National Forest in an effort to change big game distribution from private lands to public lands.

Eagle County—Treat noxious weeds, repair/replace irrigation system and seed the land with grasses and forbs to improve 43 acres within a 536-acre project area up Toner Creek on the Basalt State Wildlife Area to improve wildlife forage; provide funding for six gates to close roads from December 1 to April 15 to reduce disturbances to elk and other wildlife on more than 41,000 acres of crucial winter range on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. Two of the gates will close earlier to provide non-motorized hunting opportunities and reduce the movement of elk and mule deer onto private land during archery, muzzleloader and rifle seasons (also benefits Garfield and Pitkin Counties); and apply prescribed fire to burn brush, grasses and decadent aspen trees on 475 acres of BLM land and 918 acres of White River National Forest land on the west flank of Basalt Mountain in the Roaring Fork Valley to rejuvenate forage for elk and deer. In addition, mechanically treat 118 acres to open up Gambel oak thickets and remove pinyon juniper from an area previously treated in 2014.

El Paso County—Host a SAFE (Shooting Access for Everyone) Challenge event in Colorado Springs to help new young and novice shooters learn firearm safety, the hunter’s role in conservation, shooting ethics and how to shoot a variety of firearms.

Fremont County—Mechanically thin 506 acres and hand-thin 97 acres as well as install wildlife water guzzlers to improve forage conditions on BLM and state land bordering private agricultural land six miles south of Texas Creek.

Garfield County—Perform shrub mastication on 800 acres, prescribed burning on 2,000 acres, and herbicide application on 200 acres as part of a multi-year project to improve wildlife habitat on approximately 6,000 acres across the south side of the Rifle Ranger District on the White River National Forest (also benefits Mesa County); and apply a mosaic pattern of prescribed burning on 1,250 acres to reduce the overgrowth of mountain shrub and pinyon-juniper in the Hay Canyon area on BLM land to increase forage availability while retaining adequate wildlife cover and reducing the threat of catastrophic wildfire.

Grand County—Provide funding for a study to document and assess movements of elk within the Troublesome and Williams Fork herds near Middle Park, Colorado, on state, Arapaho National Forest and Rocky Mountain National Park lands to assist wildlife managers with management decisions; hand thin 320 acres and hydro axe 160 acres of sagebrush and mountain shrub habitat encroached by pinyon and juniper thus improving forage on winter range and calving areas in the Radium Valley area on BLM land; treat 314 acres of noxious weeds within the Sulphur Ranger District’s backcountry on the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest to benefit habitat for elk, mule deer, pronghorn, mountain lion, and other wildlife; and provide RMEF volunteer manpower to remove 1.25 miles of hazardous fence (totaling about five miles of wire) from elk and mule deer habitat in the Buffalo Creek drainage on the Arapaho National Forest.

Gunnison County—Use a combination of ripping, barrier placement, signing and seeding to close 46 miles of roads on BLM land in an area identified during the Travel Management Planning process as having high route densities affecting elk, deer and sage grouse movement. When complete, the 11,385-acre project area will still have 49 miles of open roads; apply pre-burn mechanical treatments and subsequent prescribed burning to approximately 1,000 acres across five project areas within the Upper Gunnison Basin on the Gunnison National Forest to benefit big game habitat by stimulating forage and aspen regeneration (also affects Saguache County); assess forage production in areas that previously received riparian and wet meadow restoration treatments to determine whether and how much these treatments are improving the quality of elk winter range in the Upper Gunnison Basin on the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests as well as private land; and provide funding to assist the 3rd Buck Creek Ranch Brothers In Arms Hunting Camp which will host up to 14 soldiers for seven days of elk hunting.

Huerfano County—Apply hydro axe treatment to 200 acres in the Williams Creek drainage on the San Isabel National Forest to reduce canopy cover and open pinyon-juniper and Ponderosa pine forested areas, as well as restore meadows being encroached by conifers in an area used year-round by elk.

Jackson County—Thin 462 acres of lodgepole pine in elk summer and transitional range on the Routt National Forest to stimulate the growth of forbs, grasses and shrubs.

Larimer County—Provide funding for a group of wildlife students to start up a RMEF student chapter on the Colorado State University campus.

Las Animas County—Place solar pumps on former windmill-generated water sources to provide water for wildlife where it is presently intermittent or unavailable near sites that previously received habitat enhancement treatment to assist with elk distribution on the Bosque del Oso State Wildlife Area; place solar pumps at existing well locations on the U.S. Army’s 236,000-acre Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site to provide reliable year-round water sources for elk, deer and other wildlife as well as a water source for fire teams to utilize the sites in the event of wildfire; and provide funding for the Las Animas County 4-H Shooting Sports program to assist with the purchase of firearms, shooting targets and range improvements in a new shooting area.

Mesa County—Provide funding for Base Camp 40, an organization dedicated to taking military veterans on memorable hunts, which will host seven veterans on a private land cow elk hunt near Glade Park.

Moffat County—Implement juniper mastication across 1,560 acres of BLM and private land where juniper is encroaching into productive grassland habitat that historically received periodic wildfire north of Douglas Mountain.

Park County—Apply noxious weed treatment on 530 acres of the South Park Ranger District on the Pike National Forest as part of the second year of a multi-year project; and provide funding to purchase seed mix for 14 acres receiving brush hog treatment to remove decadent grass and potentilla along the Middle Fork of the South Platte River on the Tomahawk State Wildlife Area..

Rio Blanco County—Treat noxious weeds on 150 acres in the South Fork of the White River drainage on the White River National Forest using spraying and both manual and burning treatments to benefit calving grounds and summer range.

Rio Grande County—Hydro axe approximately 600 acres of overly dense mixed conifer forest in the Dyers Creek area within the Embargo Creek drainage on BLM land to ease potential fire hazard and improve elk forage on winter and transitional range.

San Miguel County—Remove tamarisk from 235 acres of crucial big game winter range habitat thus reducing competition for water and increasing available forage in the Dry Creek drainage near Basin on BLM land that is home to more than 500 wintering elk.

Teller County—Provide funding to co-sponsor the annual Outdoor Skills Day at Colorado's Mueller State Park which invites families to learn the basics or test their skills at many outdoor activities include shooting, archery, fishing, knot tying, geocaching, wildlife information, camping and more.

Partners for the Colorado projects include Arapaho-Roosevelt, Grand Mesa, Gunnison, Medicine Bow-Routt, Pike, Rio Grande, San Isabel, Uncompahgre and White River National Forests, Bureau of Land Management, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and other government, university, civic and sportsmen groups and organizations.

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 6.7 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.

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