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

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation: We are Family!

Below is a letter forwarded our way by a Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation volunteer who, accompanied by her husband, checked off a major bucket list item by trekking four time zones and more than 3,000 miles from central New York to their new home in south-central Alaska.

Colleen and Dave Dye
My husband and I moved to the last frontier three months ago. We’d been dreaming of Alaska for years. I’d be willing to bet that none of our friends and family took our pipe dream seriously. After all, who says goodbye to all they have known their whole lives – job, home, family, and friends – to head to a region of the continent 4,500 miles away? Why anyone would do such an outrageous thing is probably a better question.

After a 34-year career in law enforcement, my husband was ready for a change. He’d served his fellow man for decades and deserved to see and do some of the greater things in life. I took a leave of absence from my job in instructional technology support. Our sons were grown and on their own. As the saying goes, we were burning daylight. We had been careful to save. As my husband aptly put it, we were now going to enter the spending phase of our lives.

So, we packed just the bare essentials for such an adventure into our truck. We were going to try to be a mobile as possible – a demand of some of our bucket list activities. If the packed belongings were categorized, I believe it was zero percent housewares, five percent dog and his gear, 25 percent personal clothing and 70 percent hunting, hiking and outdoor gear. 

After seven extensive days of driving from our home in central New York, south around the Great Lakes and then into Saskatchewan, via the Alaska Highway, we made it to Anchorage, Alaska. By the next day, we were unpacking into an off-season VRBO (vacation rental by owner) and beginning to find our way around the Matanuska –Susitna Valley.

We soon established ourselves as Alaska residents. We had Alaska drivers’ licenses, Alaska license plates on our truck and a new post office box mailing address. We began exploring the area, finding majesty at every turn. We had shelter, food and each other. What we didn’t have were friends. 

We came to Alaska knowing not one soul. As compatible as my husband and I are, we were starved for the companionship of others. Back home in upstate New York, we were active in the Millers Mills Grange # 581, a national organization founded in the 1800’s for rural farming communities. We were also active members of the Leatherstocking Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and consider Chapter Chair Randy Hoose and other members good friends. We shared many good times with our RMEF friends in central New York – meetings, banquet and even Elk Camp in Las Vegas.

Colleen and Dave on Lazy Mountain
in Palmer, Alaska
My husband found out there was a RMEF chapter right in Wasilla where we are. The Mat-Su chapter of RMEF was having its monthly meeting two weeks after we arrived. David inquired if we could attend the next meeting. After an emphatic "yes" from Jerry Hall, state volunteer chair, we looked forward to the upcoming meeting. We were greeted warmly by a group of about 20 hard-working folks, diligently planning for their annual chapter banquet which was just four weeks away. We sat quietly and listened to the plans, mixed with genuine laughter and affable kidding amongst friends. We had only been there about 10 minutes when my husband turned to me, with a smile on his face, and whispered, “It’s just like home. These are good people.”

Since we had time, we asked for some tasks that we could help with preparing for the banquet. Within two weeks, we had found donations, helped pick up donations other members needed help with and had jobs for the upcoming banquet ourselves. We looked forward to meetings for the social aspect as much as working toward the common goal of conserving elk habitat in North America. 

We met some of these same down-to-earth folks at the grocery store soon after we had joined the chapter and were greeted like long-time friends. Our new friends were sharing all the best restaurants, hiking trails and winter fishing locales. More than of one of these fine people have made sure we were included in other community events, making us feel even more at home. A short time later, our chapter was saddened to learn that a young military couple that had been active members of the chapter was being transferred from Alaska back down to the lower 48. As we stood together, conveying our sadness over their leaving, our experience of coming to Alaska and finding new friends with the Mat-Su chapter of RMEF came full circle. 

We moved from central New York and the Leatherstocking Chapter of RMEF to the Matanuska Valley in Alaska and the Mat-Su chapter of RMEF. We found wonderful friends of similar backgrounds with common love of the outdoors and the majestic Rocky Mountain elk. We urged our dear young friends heading to Montana to seek out the local chapter where they settle. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is almost like family. They will surely find new friends. We certainly did.

Colleen H. Dye
Leatherstocking Chapter (NY) Chair Randy Hoose (left) and Dave
at their elk camp in Colorado (2015)
Want to join the RMEF volunteer family? Go here for more information.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Wisconsin Elk Reintroduction Project Highlights Strong Partnerships

Below is a news release issued April 19, 2016, from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources with the latest on the elk reintroduction project. Scroll down to watch a video.

Wisconsin Elk Reintroduction Project Highlights Strong Partnerships

MADISON – With year two of Wisconsin's elk reintroduction efforts now complete, elk from Kentucky continue to adjust to their new home in Jackson County. 

The goal of this multi-year reintroduction project is to work closely with partners to establish a second elk herd in central Wisconsin and bolster the existing herd in northern Wisconsin. The 39 elk trapped in Kentucky in 2016 will be released in Jackson County, while the remaining years of this project will focus on adding up to 75 elk to the Clam Lake elk herd that was established in 1995.

Funding for Wisconsin’s elk translocation efforts is a result of key partnerships and support from the Ho-Chunk Nation, Jackson County Wildlife Fund, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and many other local partners. 

“Seeing all of these partners come together with one goal in mind is very impressive,” said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. “Everyone involved with elk reintroduction efforts thus far has been nothing short of spectacular to work alongside as we continue to achieve our goals and move forward with this exciting project.”

“Elk reintroduction will affect the local Jackson County economy in a positive way through tourism,” said Jay Dee Nichols, a member of the Jackson County Wildlife Fund. “The elk project and this partnership has people excited to come and see these animals.”

Prior to arriving safely in Wisconsin March 23, the elk were held in Kentucky for initial disease testing as part of a 120-day quarantine period. The elk currently reside in a quarantine pen in Jackson County, where they will remain until the quarantine period and final disease testing has concluded.

For the duration of their captivity in Wisconsin, the elk will receive expert care. Precautions taken include 24-hour monitoring, veterinary care and oversight, routines to limit exposure to stress, and daily monitoring and observations for any injuries or additional concerns.

In addition to the closed area surrounding the acclimation pen, individuals are asked to voluntarily avoid the general vicinity of the closed area until the elk are released. Minimizing human disturbance near the release site will allow the elk to adjust to their new home and will help maximize the success of reintroduction efforts.

To receive email updates regarding current translocation efforts, visit dnr.wi.gov and click on the email icon near the bottom of the page titled "subscribe for updates for DNR topics," then follow the prompts and select the "elk in Wisconsin" and "wildlife projects" distribution lists.

For more information regarding elk in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "elk."

DC Area Chapter Celebrates Silver Anniversary in Grand Style

It turns out you can have your cake and eat it too, especially when the U.S. Navy’s second-in-command provides the goodies! So that’s exactly what members of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s Bull Run Chapter did at their recent annual big game banquet in Middleburg, Virginia.  

Admiral Michelle Howard and her husband Captain Wayne Cowles (retired USMC), both long-time RMEF members and active chapter participants, donated a cake to celebrate the chapter’s 25th anniversary. The evening included dinner, silent and live auctions, giveaways and plenty of stories, smiles, handshakes and hugs.

 Admiral Michelle Howard (right)
It was also a night to revel in the return of elk to their native Virginia range. A multi-year project to restore wapiti to the Old Dominion state wrapped up in 2014. The 71 released elk now number 130 or more with an additional 50 calves due in May. The goal is to grow the heard to about 400 and eventually institute a regulated hunting season.

Below are thoughts and experiences of two long-time members, Danny Smedley and Caroline “Tinker” Frazier, who lovingly reminisced about the chapter’s early days:

Caroline "Tinker" Frazier and Danny Smedley
For me it all started with a Bulge magazine I bought during my first visit to Yellowstone in the summer of 1990. I sent in my membership application and later that year I received a call from Kurt Ballantyne, who was previously the chairman of the Denver Chapter. His BLM job had relocated him to Washington, DC where he called all the RMEF members around the DC area and asked us to come to just one meeting.  That meeting was the start of the National Capital Area Chapter which was later renamed to the Bull Run Chapter. Our first committee consisted of about a half dozen guys and our first banquet netted $6,000.  We thought we did great considering my wife told me no one would come to a fundraiser for elk—an animal that most people around DC had never seen. 
Danny Smedley

We brought the RMEF into the next generation when our National Capital Area Chapter launched the first ever RMEF website.  After fielding questions about membership renewals, where to hunt elk and missing magazine subscriptions, we renamed the chapter to honor and remember the Civil War battlefield in our area – Bull Run – and have never looked back. 
Tinker Frazier

During our first banquet my wife and I were seated with John and Tinker Frazier who we had never met before. My wife won a brief case filled with $500. John and Tinker had such a good time that they joined the committee. Our second year we raised $7,000 and during our wrap-up meeting that year, Bradley Clarke asked what were the goals for the chapter? We agreed on a plan and within a year or so our banquets were averaging $30,000 net.
Danny Smedley

John and I attended the first banquet, sitting next to Danny’s wife. After I spilled a glass of wine on the table, she won the briefcase full of money – talk about motivating us to join the committee! 
Tinker Frazier

I remember when our chapter was asked to participate in a local sports show. We arranged to borrow a full size elk mount. As most people around the area had not seen an elk, the show promoter mentioned the RMEF and the elk mount in the show's newspaper and radio ads. The evening before the show started we were setting up our booth and waiting on our elk to arrive. But the guy with the elk was running late and the show promoter was getting nervous. Finally the guy who had promised to bring the elk called and told me sorry but he had sold the elk mount a couple of weeks before the show. After a few frantic phone calls I located the elk and had it on display minutes before the show started. The show owner was happy and he provided our chapter a complimentary booth at his show for years. 

A taxidermist friend stopped by our booth at the sports show and told me he heard about our challenges with the elk mount. He gave me a challenge: bring him a full cape and he would make sure our RMEF chapter had its own elk mount. After an elk hunt with eight committee members, I was luckily enough to bring back a full cape and Lewis Lee of Lee's Taxidermy donated a full elk mount and Mr.  Bull was born. Lewis has donated to our chapter each of our 25 years. Mr. Bull has traveled all over Virginia to banquets, sports shows and schools during my tenure as RMEF state chair and is still going strong with our current State Chair Cathy Funk.

My oldest son was an active child and when he was about two. I remember placing him on Mr. Bull as if he was riding a horse. My son was thrilled.  Now my son is almost 24 and a member of our committee.   Our banquets have turned into a family event with the entire family attending and both my sons helping on the big day. 
Danny Smedley

The chapter always prided itself in keeping a family flavor to each event providing merchandise and fun targeted to the ladies and our next generation of hunters – the kids. We felt unique in that way, and knew that our efforts would lead to a big pay day in the future. 
Tinker Frazier

Kentucky elk release
In the late 1990's as state chair, I worked with Dr. Parkhurst of Virginia Tech on a feasibility study for the re-introduction of elk in Virginia. Everyone was excited that we might get elk in Virginia. Our excitement was short lived as our game commission rejected the program. At the same time Tom Baker was state chair in Kentucky and on December 19, 1997 (my wife's birthday), members of our committee and I traveled together to Hazard, Kentucky, to see the first elk released there. We were thrilled to see the release and could not have imagined that in May 2012 we would see the ancestors of those Kentucky elk released in Virginia
Danny Smedley

For more than 10 years we sold and resold an inflatable elk head along with a plaque containing the list of successful bidders. The winning bidder won the right to keep the elk head for a year and then we sold it again. Finally our inflatable friend developed a leak and was retired to a box in my garage with the rest of the chapter history. 

As a committee we have hunted elk together, bird hunted, shot skeet, attended life events and become friends. Those friends and committee members have included doctors, lawyers, computer scientists, financial advisors, business owners, a veterinarian, CPAs, many enlisted personnel -even a 4-star admiral- and people from all walks of life. I really learned my best lessons in managing people by leading a committee of volunteers!
Danny Smedley

In the politically-charged Washington, DC arena, our passion and commitment to the mission of the Elk Foundation was a rarity and motivated us through many adversities and naysayers. Staying true to the vision and mission, we persevered, and celebrated when elk were returned to the Commonwealth. We will always treasure the friendships we have made over these precious years, and can’t recall those days before we were a tight knit family. 
Tinker Frazier

Oh the memories and the friendships and all for a great cause. One I strongly believe in as noted on my license plates which reads RMEF. Here's to another 25 years!
Danny Smedley

Virginia now has more than 2,500 members in eight different chapters.

Kudos and a big “thank you” go out to our volunteers and members in the DC area and all across the nation who support RMEF’s conservation mission. 

Elk back on their native Virginia range

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Critters of RMEF

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is home to some of the most majestic animals in all of North America. Just take a brief stroll through the Elk Country Visitor Center and you see plenty of evidence. Massive shoulder mounts display some of the largest and most extraordinary elk ever taken.
But that’s only part of the view. RMEF’s national quarters sit on about 22 acres snuggled between grass-covered hills on the northern edge of Missoula, Montana. It’s a calm and serene scene that is budding with tall cottonwoods, birds, fish and all manner of other wildlife. 

The most impressive sight is courtesy the North Hills-Evaro elk herd. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll refer to these animals as the ‘home herd.’ When snow covers the hills from mid to late fall until early spring, the elk are usually somewhere within a few miles above RMEF headquarters. While not always visible from our windows, the herd did spend several weeks in plain sight earlier this spring. That led to a herd of RMEF employees crowding around a spotting scope to get a better view. At last official count, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP), the home herd numbers 156 strong. What’s better than working for an organization where its ‘mascot’ is within sight, right?

Elk aren’t the only ungulates to roam RMEF’s homeland. Whitetail deer are abundant in the hills above and in the thick vegetation next to RMEF’s outdoor walking trail. In fact, the small trees and bushes offer quality cover for does to drop their fawns in the spring. 

A babbling Grant Creek flows through the property containing cutthroat trout and attracting a wide variety of birds and small mammals as well as larger animals drawn to the water source.

There are also predators in all shapes and sizes that crisscross or live on RMEF’s acreage. The latest high-profile sighting centers on a small but ferocious hunter. The pygmy owl measures a mere six inches in height but it demonstrates a big appetite. Bugle Conservation Editor Paul Queneau recently captured a series of photos featuring the owl as it successfully scooped up, carried away and then proudly posed with a small rodent. 

Just last fall a black bear caused a stir as it clawed its way through an old, rotten log on the banks of Grant Creek. Bears are not an uncommon sight in western Montana but this fur ball was rather large one. It spent quite a bit of time on the property and soon received the attention of a growing number of onlookers including FWP biologists who helped shoo it back into the hills. 

Source: Bert Lindler

The spot on RMEF property where a black bear hibernated several years back
On another occasion, one in which I had a fly rod in my truck with plans to try to catch and release a few trout on my lunch break, RMEF employees received an internal office email notifying us that someone spotted a mountain lion along the creek. Needless to say that led to a quick change in lunch-time plans.

Grant Creek & fish caught/released on another day
It’s only fitting that RMEF is not just about elk. After all, our mission is to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage—even on our home turf.

Mark Holyoak
RMEF Director of Communications

The 'home herd'

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

RMEF Members ‘Step Up’ to Support Conservation Mission

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is hosting a series of intimate, regional events in 2016 to allow members the opportunity to form new relationships and ‘step up’ their financial support for RMEF’s conservation mission. The first gathering took place April 8-9 in Atlanta, Georgia. Upcoming events are scheduled for Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, as well as Lexington, Kentucky, and Estes Park, Colorado. Go here for dates and other information.

“This business really isn’t about elk or land but about people and people’s hearts.”

Those heartfelt words from Vicki Munson, wife of RMEF co-founder Bob Munson, resonated among a group of more than two dozen members and supporters during a recent two-day gathering in Atlanta, Georgia. They came together to share passionate feelings about elk, wild landscapes shared by elk and other wildlife, and an organization that struggled through its early days in the mid-1980s that took on the name of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

Charlie Decker
“It was really scary,” said Charlie Decker, RMEF co-founder. “How do you take somebody’s money and say we had a great idea and not follow through? We kept borrowing big and something positive would happen and we’d make it to another day.”

“When you have a commitment and you say you’re going to do something, you’d better do it. It says something about the spirit of the landscape we love and God’s creation of the critters we love,” said Bob Munson.

Munson, Decker and others dipped in to college savings funds, knocked on doors, took out loans, peddled newly-printed inaugural issues of Bugle magazine and did everything in their power to remain financially afloat—all for the sake of elk and elk habitat. 

“It was humble beginnings and we talk about how much it’s grown, changed and is a force to be reckoned to be with in the conservation world. It’s all about the people. There are staff, volunteers and the donors. Without any one of those three groups of people, RMEF wouldn’t be what it is today. I think it’s important people recognize the value of those components and the gifts they are to each other,” said Vicki Munson, who worked alongside her husband in the RMEF office the first eight years.

The Atlanta Step Up to the Plate event included a tour of the sprawling 80-acre Chick-fil-A world headquarters. Hosted by Philip Barrett, vice president of corporate financial services and a RMEF board member and life member, RMEF members learned about the history of an American-made restaurant that broke the mold of the fast food industry. 

Founded in Georgia in 1946, Chick-fil-A opened the nation’s first in-mall restaurant in 1967. It was the first outfit to introduce the chicken fillet sandwich, chicken nuggets and fruit cups. The company prides itself in never having had an employee layoff, donating ten percent of its profits to foundations, serving one million customers daily and yet continually growing in success and profits but remains closed on Sundays. Chick-fil-A also established a scholarship program for its employees dating back to 1973 to help them further their education. 

Chick-fill-A has 1,700 free-standing restaurants in 42 states. Founder and Chairman Emeritus S. Truett Cathy always believed in supplying a free lunch to his 1,600 employees at headquarters which actually feeds up to 2,000 people daily since spouses and children are welcome. Chick-fil-A also provides on-site daycare for a mere $10 a day.

Philip Barrett
“I believe a lot of things that happened over the years have been by divine intervention. His (Truett Cathy’s) goal was to be a good steward of things we’ve been given—family, environment– and do the right thing,” said Barrett.

Another high-profile, Atlanta-area RMEF member, Atlanta Braves President of Development Mike Plant, hosted the group at Turner Field for an evening baseball game between the home-standing Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals. The trip to Turner Field included an up-close, on-field view of batting practice for both teams well before the game’s first pitch followed by a pre-game meal of hot dogs, brats, sliders, popcorn and other goodies in Plant’s suite located high above left field. 

Decker and Munson presented Plant and his wife, Mary, with gifts to recognize and thank them for a RMEF conservation easement they placed on their New Mexico ranch to permanently protect its wildlife habitat.

“My relationship with RMEF is something I think about every day. I love the habitat, the wildlife, the outdoors. I read Bugle magazine cover to cover. I really admire your organization. I’m grateful we’ve been able to partner with you,” said Mike Plant.

Charlie Decker, Mike Plant & Bob Munson
(left to right)
Gratitude remained a common theme throughout the weekend as attendees got an update on RMEF’s 2015 accomplishments and its priorities for 2016. 

“I fell in love with elk. It has impacted our relationship and our marriage. We hunt together. It has just been wonderful.”
Kay Thompson

“We found at RMEF the dollar goes a lot farther than any other organization out there. Our kids are involved with it. It’s a family experience where we live. And the chapter is a family experience. We’ve been going about 10 years now. We look forward to a long relationship with the RMEF.”
Troy Lamm

“Thanks Bob, Charlie, Yvonne and Vicki. I’m looking forward to doing more with the organization. I went on my first elk hunt 4 years ago. When you hear your first bull bugle you are just hooked. That’s where I am now. I want to give back.”
Jeff Piland

“The thing that impressed me with the Elk Foundation is it’s just such a family. You go to Elk Camp and see people from Washington and Tucson. It’s just so overwhelming to hear the success.”
Ernie Swift

“I was a state chair before I went on my first elk hunt. To me, it was the habitat. That’s how I’ve come to know and love this organization because of the work we’ve done.”
Michael Wright

“A buddy said, ‘Go to a banquet with me.’ I had a blast. I stepped up and became a life member in the early ‘90s. We planned family vacations and we’d do an elk hunt or a pack trip. My son says when he gets out of the Army next year we’re going elk hunting. That’s what the Elk Foundation means to me—exposing my kids to hunting and how to be a good steward.”
Gary Peters

As of April 1, 2016, the RMEF protected or enhanced more than 6.8 million acres of elk habitat from coast to coast. RMEF also opened or secured public access to more than 852,000 acres. In all, the cumulative value of those lifetime efforts total more than $1 billion.

“There is majesty in what’s happening today. We care for that landscape. Had it not been for RMEF, 6.8 million acres would’ve gone to development. When you invest in this outfit, think about your kids and your grandkids. That’s a legacy that is priceless.”
Bob Munson

“We’ve always tried to be an organization that caters to the family, the average hunter—they’re the backbone of this organization. God, family and country is a common theme for RMEF wherever we go. It’s a culture that’s unique. We’re very proud of it. We just can’t thank you enough.”
Charlie Decker

Monday, April 18, 2016

Deadline Approaching to Provide Comment in Favor of Delisting Yellowstone Grizzlies

RMEF Members,

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) recently announced that the grizzly bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is recovered and proposed removing it from the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation agrees with this decision and strongly advocates for state management of all wildlife, including grizzlies.

FWS is now accepting public comment on the delisting. Please take the time to issue a comment in support of this decision by going here and then clicking on the “Comment Now!” button. The deadline (May 10) to do so is quickly approaching.

As you know, grizzlies were delisted back in 2007 but a lawsuit filed by environmentalists influenced a federal judge to overturn that ruling. Many who oppose delisting grizzly bears now are more opposed to state-based management control than they are opposed to the actual delisting. There is an obvious movement afoot to do away with states managing wildlife by the more radical voices of environmentalists. The stakes are higher than just delisting grizzly bears.

The Yellowstone grizzly population has reached all three criteria for delisting: at least 500 bears (reached in 2001), required distribution in 16 of 18 Recovery Bear Management Units (reached in 1999), and maintaining a population of 600-747 bears while maintaining mortality limits for independent females, males and dependent young.

Hunters and anglers who purchase licenses so far contributed millions to grizzly bear recovery efforts in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. This is a testament to how sportsmen and women pursuing their passions help fund other important wildlife programs.

Thank you for your attention to and support of this important issue.


M. David Allen
RMEF President & CEO

Friday, April 8, 2016

Rancher: RMEF Prescribed Burn Saved My Home

Forest health, elk and other wildlife aren’t the only benefactors of prescribed burns. Just ask Phil Lampert.

Gusty winds recently pushed the 1,896-acre Cold Fire through the pine-laced forests of western South Dakota near Custer. Lampert saw the smoke and flames and watched from his home as firefighters halted its advance on his property. He credits a 2014 habitat stewardship project, funded in part by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, for saving his ranch.

“Because of that, a lot of that fuel that was eliminated in that (2014 prescribed burn) fire was no longer there to help fuel this fire,” Lampert told Keloland television.

“The effect of the fire moving from the untreated into the treated area was very dramatic and really showed the effectiveness of prescribed fire. The fire flame length, because of reduction in fuels, really dropped down,” said Jerry Krueger, Black Hills National Forest deputy supervisor.

The 2014 prescribed burn covered 1,938 acres in a section of forestland that had not seen significant fire in decades. Treatment objectives included using fire to enhance wildlife habitat by improving forage, rejuvenating hardwoods and shrubs, maintaining meadows and reducing hazardous dead and down woody fuels to protect cover for game animals and birds.

RMEF contributed nearly $41,000 to help cover the costs of aerial ignition and engines.

The project was several years in the making and marked the first interagency prescribed burn in the Black Hills involving federal, state and private lands. More specifically, partners included RMEF, Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park, Black Hills National Forest with assistance from the South Dakota Division of Wildland Suppression, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks' Wildlife Division, Rapid City Fire Department, Custer Volunteer Fire Department and a landowner by the name of Phil Lampert, who also employed some personal thinning practices.

And for having the foresight to improve the conservation values of his land by allowing habitat stewardship work on his land, Lampert is forever grateful.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

RMEF, Others Donate to Wyoming Public Access Program

Below is a news release issued by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

CHEYENNE - The Wyoming Game and Fish Department recently received $28,350 for Access Yes, the private lands public wildlife access program. The donations are a combination of support from the Wyoming Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the Wyoming Fire Chiefs’ Association, the Wyoming Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation and Bowhunters of Wyoming.

Access Yes is a program that facilitates the partnership between landowners and the department to create public hunting and fishing access on private land. These include Walk-in Areas, Hunter Management Areas and other Game and Fish public access areas.

“Each dollar donated to Access Yes equates to approximately 3.5 acres of public access. These groups are helping every hunter and angler in Wyoming have more opportunities for years to come,” said Scott Talbott, director of Wyoming Game and Fish Department. “The generous donations from Wyoming Fire Chiefs’ Association, the Wyoming Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Bowhunters of Wyoming, and the Wyoming Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation are responsible for providing approximately 99,225 acres of public access. That’s impressive.”

Access Yes funds directly pay for access easements, not funding operating expenses of Game and Fish access programs. Walk-In Areas and Hunter Management Areas funded by Access Yes provide hunting opportunities for big game, small game, upland game bird species and waterfowl. They also provide fishing opportunities throughout the state.

"We are fortunate to have strong partnerships with these organizations who are dedicated to providing funding for hunting and fishing access," said Matt Withroder, Game and Fish regional access coordinator.

Funds donated to Access Yes can only be utilized to provide landowner payments in exchange for sportsmen access. The public can also support Access Yes through donations when purchasing a license, either online or from a license selling agent. For more information please visit the Game and Fish public access page.

(Wyoming Game and Fish (307) 777-4600)

Friday, April 1, 2016

Wisconsin to Offer RMEF License Plates

Governor Scott Walker prepares to sign bill
You will soon be able to drive with RMEF pride on the roads of one fifth of our nation’s 50 states. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker recently signed a bill into law creating a Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation license plate.

It was an effort two years in the making led by RMEF volunteer Dick Ketelboeter (far left in photo below) and RMEF Regional Director Kurt Flack (fourth from the left below). They beat the bushes through word-of-mouth and social media. They engaged other RMEF members and worked the halls of the Wisconsin statehouse to make the license plate a reality.

Specifically, they worked through Representative Keith Ripp (back row on the left below) to get the bill written and merged with the Boy Scouts of America, childhood cancer and other groups attempting to do the same thing.

In the end, the Wisconsin State Assembly voted 90-2 in favor followed by a 29-3 vote of approval in the Wisconsin State Senate which then sent it to Governor Walker’s desk for his signature.

RMEF members, numbering approximately 10,000 strong in Wisconsin, and other supporters will soon be able to purchase RMEF plates for their cars and trucks. In return, RMEF will receive $25 per transaction to apply toward our mission of ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

Wisconsin joins Missouri and Virginia as the latest states to approve a RMEF plate. Other states offering RMEF plates include Idaho, Maryland, Montana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and South Dakota. Go here for a link to purchasing your RMEF plate in those states. 

If you don’t have that option in your home state, contact your RMEF regional director and local representative to make it happen.