Hunters do much more to benefit conservation than generate funding thanks to excise taxes on their guns, ammunition and archery equipment or by buying hunting licenses. Many of them donate financially but also give of their time, talents and energy.
The hunter-based Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation boasts a volunteer army of more than 11,000 men, women and children. In 2020, their contributions equated to nearly $24 million worth of value in donated time and labor to further RMEF’s mission of ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.
They each average approximately 80 hours of service annually.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics provided information to the Independent Sector which calculated the 2020 value of one volunteer hour as $27.20. If you do the math, that totals more than $23.9 million dollars.
In addition to hosting banquets, membership drives and other fundraising events that generate funding from more than 500 chapters that’s put back on the ground, volunteers also improve elk country by pulling on their boots and getting to work.
Here are just a few examples.
In West Virginia, RMEF volunteers traveled from across the region to erect fencing for a holding pen that assisted with a successful restoration of elk to the historic eastern range.
In Idaho, RMEF volunteers climbed steep hillsides and thrashed through thick brush to remove miles and miles of old electrical wiring from a defunct railroad.
That wiring not only impedes wildlife movement, but it can be deadly as well.
And in one of RMEF’s longest-running habitat enhancement projects, volunteers gather annually in Arizona to repair fencing and construct water resources on a private ranch.
The bottom line is a collaborative effort that improves quality habitat for elk and assists the rancher who opens his 65,000 acres for hunter access. Hunters who personally give of their financial means and sweat equity strongly highlight how Hunting Is Conservation.