MISSOULA, Mont. — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners allocated $2,098,338 in grant funding in Arizona for elk habitat stewardship, wildlife management and hunting heritage projects. RMEF directly granted $156,136 that leveraged an additional $1,942,202 in partner dollars.
“One of the major issues in this part of elk country is a lack of life-sustaining water for elk and other wildlife. Some of this grant funding is specifically earmarked to upgrade more than a dozen water sources,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “Additional projects of focus include restoring historic grasslands and a study monitoring predator impact on elk.”
Arizona is home to more than 6,100 RMEF members and eight chapters.
“We value and recognize our volunteers who work hard to raise this funding that we put back on the ground to do so much good, “ said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO.
Since 1986, RMEF and its partners completed 518 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Arizona with a combined value of more than $36.9 million. These projects conserved and enhanced 458,422 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 21,585 acres.
Below are 12 projects, listed by county, that benefit 10,718 acres of habitat across eight different counties.
- Renovate up to 10 dirt tanks that serve as water sources for elk, other wildlife and livestock impacted by the 2011 Wallow Fire on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. Removing wildfire sediment increases capacity and helps distribute grazing across a 2,500-acre landscape.
- Provide funding to better assess the impact of Mexican wolves on elk populations on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in both Arizona and New Mexico. Researchers monitor elk survival and mortality rates, habitat selection and behavioral changes of elk in response to increasing predation risk from Mexican wolves (also benefits Navajo County).
- Repair and upgrade a wildlife water source in a remote area on the Williams Ranger District within the Grand Canyon to Prescott migration corridor on the Kaibab National Forest. A portion of the project will be pipe-rail fencing to exclude cattle during winter months to ensure wildlife water and winter forage availability.
- Cover the cost of dumpster rental and provide volunteer manpower to assist with clean-up at The Cinders recreational shooting location outside Flagstaff. Crews removed an estimated four tons of trash from the site.
- Support landscape-scale restoration across nearly 1,800 acres of historic open juniper woodland and grassland habitat on the Tonto National Forest to improve habitat for elk, mule deer and other wildlife while reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire.
- Repair four dirt tanks within the Blue Range Primitive Area of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest impacted by the 2020 Cow Canyon and 2011 Wallow Fires. A contracted crew will use a team of horses and pack animals to access and repair the tanks to improve water availability for elk, other wildlife and livestock.
- Remove invasive trees and shrubs, replace fencing that is not wildlife-friendly and install water developments to benefit 3,300 acres of Arizona State Trust Land. The goal is to restore grassland and woodland habitat across Game Management Unit 18A to create small grassland openings and thin woodlands to open the canopy and stimulate browse and forage.
- Remove juniper trees encroaching across 500 acres on Arizona State Trust Land northwest of Vernon to benefit wintering elk, pronghorn antelope and livestock.
- Provide funding for the White Mountain Clay Busters, a youth clay and skeet-shooting club that participates in the Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP). It is designed to instill safe firearms handling, commitment, responsibility, leadership and teamwork (also benefits Coconino and Maricopa Counties).
- Provide volunteer manpower to assist long-time RMEF effort to improve habitat for wildlife and livestock alike on private land enrolled in Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Adopt-a Ranch program. In 2021, volunteers removed an estimated seven miles of old fencing, installed elk jumps where needed and replaced two water troughs.
- Provide funding for the Yuma Young Guns, a SCTP shotgun team with a goal of teaching leadership, teamwork, respect and the safe use of firearms through effective training and competition with their peers.
- Host RMEF White Mountain Chapter’s fifth consecutive Junior Elk Camp in the Greens Peak area on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. Forty-five youth participated in the 2021 camp entirely funded and operated by RMEF volunteers who provided education, mentoring and all meal preparation so participants could focus on their hunt experience.
Project partners include the Apache-Sitgreaves, Kaibab and Tonto National Forests, Arizona Game and Fish Department, New Mexico State University, private landowners and other conservation, business and sportsmen groups.
About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Founded more than 37 years ago and fueled by hunters, RMEF maintains more than 225,000 members and has conserved nearly 8.4 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 rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.