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

Thursday, August 25, 2016

RMEF Sponsors 2016 Wyoming Women's Antelope Hunt

Below is a news release issued by the Wyoming Women's Foundation.

Wyoming Women's Foundation Media Contact: 
Rebekah Smith | Office: 307.721.8300|rebekah@wycf.org

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation sponsors 2016 Wyoming Women's Antelope Hunt 

Laramie, Wyo
.-- Sponsoring the 2016 Wyoming Women's Antelope Hunt is just one additional way that the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation ensures the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage for future generations.

The Wyoming RMEF State Grants Program has sponsored the Wyoming Women's Antelope Hunt for several years. So far RMEF and its partners have completed 624 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Wyoming with a combined value of more than $122.7 million. These projects have protected or enhanced 1,060,527 acres of habitat and have opened or secured public access to 93,460 acres.

Founded by the Wyoming Women's Foundation, the hunt promotes mentoring through hunting and developing camaraderie between women from Wyoming and around the country. Hunters will enjoy a weekend of friendly competition, fundraising, and other exciting activities with an emphasis placed on safety, hunting ethics and social interaction. The hunt, to be held Oct. 6-9, 2016, will bring together 40 female hunters at the Ranch at Ucross in northeast Wyoming

"RMEF is proud to again be involved in this worthy gathering," said Jill Tonn, RMEF Wyoming senior regional director. "We recognize that more and more women are going afield to hunt and support them as they do so."

"Through the continued support of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, we are able to offer mentorship opportunities to help women improve their hunting skills in the field and learn about wildlife conservation," said Rebekah Smith, Program Associate with the Wyoming Women's Foundation. "Hunting is a great way for women to provide healthy meat for their families, as well as a way to build strong hunting traditions with their children, friends, and other family members."

Monies raised at the event will aid the Wyoming Women's Foundation's mission to invest in the economic, self-sufficiency of women and the future of girls. Thanks to supporters and sponsors like RMEF, so far the Antelope Hunt has raised more than $200,000 for grants and special projects to help women and girls across Wyoming.

This year the hunt will welcome Donna Boddington from the television show "The Boddington Experience" as a special guest hunter. Special guest hunters have included retired Wyoming Supreme Court Justice Marilyn Kite, Wyoming State Superintendent Jillian Balow, Jana Waller from "Skull Bound TV" on the Sportsman Channel, Women's Outdoor News (WON) Editor Barbara Baird, 2013 Ms. Wheelchair USA Ashlee Lundvall, and Julie Golob, captain of Smith & Wesson's highly successful shooting team. Of the 40 total hunters in 2015, 36 harvested antelope, 11 for the first time.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Founded over 30 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of nearly 220,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 6.8 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.

About the Wyoming Women's Foundation
The Wyoming Women's Foundation is a priority fund of the Wyoming Community Foundation, which granted out over $6.1 million to nonprofits across the state in 2015. The Women's Foundation builds on a permanent endowment that will ensure funding to enhance the lives of women and girls in Wyoming for generations to come. It makes grants to organizations that help Wyoming women and girls attain economic self-sufficiency, creates statewide awareness of the barriers to economic self-sufficiency, and supports systems change to eliminate those barriers. Since its inception in 1999, the foundation has invested $775,000 into almost 100 organizations. Learn more at www.wywf.org.

The Wyoming Women's Antelope Hunt is hosted by the
Wyoming Women's Foundation | 307.721.8300 | info@wywf.org | wywf.org
The Women's Foundation is a priority fund of the Wyoming Community Foundation

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

RMEF Gets Nasty on Noxious Weeds

We recently received this question at Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation headquarters:

What is RMEF doing about getting rid of ox-eyed daisies and thistles in the wild? These plants are very aggressive, displace native forage, and elk do will eat them. They are ruining habitat and are being sprayed aggressively by US Forest Service. Does RMEF have any programs to support the spraying?
Steve Fogler

Here is a response from RMEF Director of Science and Planning Tom Toman:

RMEF has been actively engaged in noxious weed control since 1989 when we provided funds toward the control of spotted knapweed and yellow starthistle on the W.T. Wooten Wildlife Area in the state of Washington. We have provided grants for 888 projects that had an element of noxious weed control and spent $7,236,873 dollars. Other partners in these projects contributed more than $37 million. 

Ox-eye Daisy
We encourage our partners to use integrated weed management strategies which would include herbicide, biological controls (insects, viruses and bacteria), mechanical manipulation (pulling, tilling, mowing, etc.) and any developing techniques that may be on the horizon. You mention oxeye daisy and thistles and both have been targeted whenever they are discovered. 

Yellow Starthistle
Oxeye is becoming more prevalent as many folks think they are pretty and are unaware of the ecological ramifications. It is fairly easy to treat with herbicides but treatment must be followed up for years as the seeds remain viable in the soil for a long time.

Yellow starthistle was introduced into California in 1869 and we have been fighting that one in California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho for the past 30 years or more. It was found in Dillon, Montana, about five years ago and they are trying to get on top of it before it spreads. 

Spotted Knapweed
Spotted knapweed is probably the most prevalent noxious weed in the west and research we have funded has shown that it has the most aggressive growth rate of all the weeds of up to 28 percent per year.

Leafy Spurge
Leafy spurge is one of the most difficult weeds to treat since it has a taproot that can grow to a length of 25-30 feet. Trying to get herbicides throughout a plant with a root system like that makes it very difficult. In many cases, biological controls are much more effective. 

As you can see we have been actively funding noxious weed control along with the other habitat enhancement treatment types to make elk country a better place.  

RMEF funds weed control via horseback in the Elkhorn Mountains of Montana

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Pennsylvania Wildlife Reclamation, Elk Monitoring, Hunting Heritage Projects Receive RMEF Funding

Below is a complete listing of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s 2016 grants for the state of Pennsylvania. Find more information here.

Armstrong County—Provide funding for the Armstrong County Sportsmen and Conservation League 2016 Youth Field Day that offers education about and outdoor skills including fishing, archery, trapping, wildlife identification and calling, compass reading and hands-on instruction with shooting muzzle loaders, shotguns and .22 rifles.

Bedford County—Provide funding to purchase equipment and teach archery skills to all students in grades 8-12 enrolled in the Northern Bedford County School District; provide funding for the Everett Sportsmen Junior Rifle Club which promotes safety, education and instruction for indoor competitive rifle competition; and provide funding for the Everett Area High School rifle team to help offset the cost of ammunition.

Blair Country—Provide funding to support the Keystone Sportsmen for Youth’s 2016 Youth Field Day that offers the opportunity for youth to learn outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing, shooting, elk and elk habitat.

Centre County—Fund reclamation work on 10.5 acres of wildlife habitat on State Game Lands #100, adding to an approximate 260 acres of recent or ongoing reclamation projects in the same area which is home to an expanding elk herd; and award an RMEF elk education trunk to Centre Hall Potter Elementary School for the school's Science Night and throughout the year for educating youth about elk and conservation in kindergarten through fourth grade.

Chester County—Provide funding to purchase training supplies for the Main Line Trap Academy, a competitive youth program designed to develop skills in clay target shooting with emphasis on safety, teamwork, personal responsibility and fun for boys and girls in grades 5-12.

Clearfield County—Host a SAFE Challenge event at the Glendale Sportsman’s Club to teach safe and responsible firearms use and proper firearms cleaning techniques. Participants will experience hands-on range target shooting with .22 rifles and/or pellet guns.

Crawford County—Provide funding for the Lake Edinboro Sportsman's League's Youth Clay Target Shooting and Development Program which introduces competitive clay target shooting to youth and teaches safe and responsible firearm handling, coaching and instructing sub-junior, junior and senior teams for competition at local, state and national venues. 

Dauphin County—Provide funding for the annual Capital Area Sportsmen for 2016 Youth Field Day that offers youth education in a wide variety of outdoor activities including archery, fishing, shooting, fly tying, boating safety, canoeing and a Cherokee Run obstacle course. RMEF's volunteers staff a wildlife tracking and sign learning station using a program developed by the Pennsylvania Game Commission and items from RMEF's Elk Education Kit.

Elk County—Provide funding to purchase of 12 GPS collars which offer more accurate data on elk use of habitat as well as reduce staff time and fuel commitments while standardizing locational data collection to better determine annual survival estimates, habitat selection and population estimation (also benefits Cameron, Clearfield, Centre, Clinton and Potter Counties); and provide funding for the Elk County Sportsmen for Youth annual Youth Field Day which offers hands-on instruction in various outdoor activities including .22 rifle and 20-gauge rifle shooting, trapping, camping, wild turkey identification and calling, archery and fishing.

Fayette County—Provide funding to assist the Fayette County Sportsmen's League in training Fayette County youth weekly for six months in preparation for the regional and statewide Pennsylvania Youth Hunter Education Challenge competitions.

Forest County—Provide funding for supplies benefiting the Forest County 2016 Youth Field Day which offers educational and experience opportunities in fishing, hunting and other outdoor activities to youth.

Greene County—Provide funding for the Hunting Hill Hawkeyes, Greene County's Scholastic Clay Target Program team, formed in 2009 which promotes and teaches youth the fundamentals of gun safety and the value of wildlife preservation.

Jefferson County—Provide funding for a free, family-friendly event hosted by the Jefferson County Sportsmen for Youth that features shooting sports, archery, demonstrations, fishing and canoeing in Reynoldsville.

Lycoming County—Provide funding to assist the Muncy Creek Sportsmen Club in its quest to involve youth in outdoor activities including fishing, camping, shooting and conservation. The funding will help stock streams and maintain trout (also benefits Sullivan County).

Philadelphia County—Provide funding to assist the Pennsylvania Master Naturalist program which builds a corps of knowledgeable citizen volunteers who provide education, outreach and stewardship toward the conservation of natural resources within their communities (also benefits Bucks, Chester, Lancaster and Berks Counties).

Sullivan County—Provide funding to assist the Sullivan County High School Shooting Sports Team participate in various disciplines of shooting sports by purchasing targets and uniforms, and assisting with travel fees and other expenses. (Morgan Craft, a former club member, shot in the International Skeet category in the Olympics in Rio De Janeiro); provide funding to benefit sixth grade students in East Lycoming and Sullivan County School Districts to receive hands-on instruction in shooting and archery, and learn about Pennsylvania's elk herd, water conservation, wildlife identification through tracks, scats and skulls and Native American culture (also benefits Lycoming County); and provide funding to assist the Sullivan County High School shooting team and Youth International Shotgun Training Coalition Association with ammunition and targets for youth and young adult shotgun competitors to allow them to compete in national junior Olympic and international competitions (also benefits Bradford and Lycoming Counties). 

Washington County—Provide funding for the Roscoe Sportsmen’s Association youth trap shooting league that teaches firearms safety, etiquette, ethics and teamwork as well as help cover the cost of materials and supplies and provide volunteer manpower.

Westmoreland County—Provide funding for the Kingston Veterans and Sportsmen’s Club 2016 Youth Field Day which offers hunters with instruction in field safety and small game hunting as well as archery, skeet shooting and other outdoor activities.

Statewide—Provide funding for the Wildlife Leadership Academy and its mission to empower high school students from across the state –selected for their academic performance, community service experience and interest in wildlife biology and conservation– to become ambassadors for wildlife conservation in order to ensure a sustained wildlife legacy for future generations.

Partners for the Pennsylvania projects include the Pennsylvania Game Commission and various sportsmen, civic and other groups.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

RMEF to Host 2016 Youth Wildlife Conservation Field Day

FREE will be the word of the day when the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation hosts its annual Youth Wildlife Conservation Field Day.

Although there is no cost, interested boys and girls age 4 to 16 must register to participate. Oh yeah, the first 50 youth to register receive a FREE RMEF youth membership. All participants also receive a FREE backpack and there will be a FREE youth drawing for all who complete an event passport.

Activities include archery, paint ball, a rock climbing wall, fishing, live animal meet and greet, bear spray demonstration, river ecology and much more--see below.

The field day takes place on Saturday, September 10 from 9 a.m. to noon at the RMEF Visitor Center located at 5705 Grant Creek Road in Missoula, Montana. It is limited to just 150 participants. To register, call 1-800-CALL-ELK ext. 236 or send an email to lhummel@rmef.org. 

A special thanks goes out to 2016 Youth Wildlife Conservation Field Day sponsors Cabela's, Columbia Sportwear, Sportsman's Warehouse and the Watershed Education Network.

Volunteers Clear the Way for Hunters, Hikers, Others

There’s nothing like being part of a successful team. A dozen volunteers from the North Fork Valley Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation recently joined ranks with the Youth Conservation Corp and some of their parents, U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and employees of the West Elk Mine to clear 3.5 miles of a popular trail in west-central Colorado.

Volunteers rolled up their sleeves during the day-long project and used chainsaws, loppers and pole saws to remove downed timber and cut back overgrown brush on the Interocean Pass Trail (USFS Trail #890) on the Paonia Ranger District of the Gunnison National Forest. It had not been cleared for quite some time and trail users who encountered the group offered many compliments and thanks. The crew also built several drainage structures and a small retaining wall. 

The trail is heavily used and is a popular destination for elk and deer hunters, hikers, runners, mountain bikers, horseback riders and other folks. It climbs through aspen and conifer stands while rewarding users with spectacular views of the surrounding West Elk Mountains. It also provides access to Mount Lamborn and its 11,401-foot peak, the highest point in Delta County. 

The four Youth Conservation Corps crew members also learned about coal extraction, bats and other outdoor issues. They later gave a well-received presentation to the community on what they learned that included their trail work. 

RMEF volunteers took part in a similar project a year ago on the edge of the West Elk Wilderness where they cleared 10 miles of trail over two days.

Go here to see a local newspaper story about the 2016 project.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A Night to Remember in New Mexico

There are some pretty amazing and memorable things that happen at Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation chapter banquets, like the two tales below. The first is related by John Olivas of the Hermits Peak Chapter in New Mexico.

I wanted to share a story from Saturday's banquet we had in Las Vegas, New Mexico. I want to share a testimony on why the Rocky Mountain elk Foundation is a true and charitable organization to each community it serves.

On Saturday there was a young boy in the crowd who was bidding on the Red Ryder BB gun. There were two bidders, one older lady (who had already won a rifle) and one young boy around the age of seven. The bid for the BB gun started at $50, then quickly rose to $100. The boy stopped bidding and was definitely disappointed. At that point James Lucero (RMEF New Mexico state chair) took notice and began bidding. The final bid was $115 with James the winner.

James Lucero (right)
What he did next was both moving and beyond charitable! James went forward and received the BB gun and then walked over to the young boy and handed it to him. 

That moment was the proudest I felt during the entire night. Tears swelled in my eyes and my wife turned to me and said not to cry! I later told the story over the phone to my daughter who was not present and once again I was choked up!

What an awesome group we represent and the actions that this organization shares cannot be compared to any other!

John Olivas 
Las Vegas, NM 
Hermits Peak Chapter

At the same banquet, that night Allan Myers, Clovis Chapter chair, was in attendance and eating his dinner when he noticed that a man across the table began choking on his dinner. In a flash Allan ran around the table and performed the Heimlich maneuver on the gentleman. On the third try he was able to get the blockage removed as the man began slumping to the ground. 

North Dakota Shooters Shine

We received the photo and letter below from the Valley City High School trap team in North Dakota. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation previously awarded the squad a grant. Congrats on a great state tournament!