Elk NetworkRMEF Grants to Benefit 20,000 Acres of Montana Wildlife Habitat

News Releases | June 3, 2013

June 3, 2013

RMEF Grants to Benefit 20,000 Acres
of Wildlife Habitat in Montana

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will fund more than 20 habitat projects in Montana that positively affect more than 20,000 acres of elk country. RMEF will also fund ongoing elk survival and recruitment research and provide hunting heritage outreach to advance Montana’s rich hunting heritage.

RMEF grants for 2013 total $276,195 and directly affect 15 counties: Beaverhead, Broadwater, Flathead, Gallatin, Garfield, Lake, Lewis and Clark, Lincoln, Madison, Missoula, Petroleum, Powell, Ravalli, Sanders and Silver Bow counties. Two other projects provide marketing outreach.

“RMEF’s first ever habitat project as an organization was 25 years ago in Montana. This latest round of grant funding further solidifies our commitment to conserving elk habitat across the state,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “Noxious weed treatment, prescribed burns, forest thinning, and working to restore aspen stands will not only benefit elk but also a wide range of wildlife.”

Since 1985, RMEF and its partners completed 770 different conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Montana with a combined value of more than $132.6 million.

“Our volunteers continue to amaze! Their passion and diligent hard work raised the grant money for elk and elk country through local membership drives and banquet fundraising,” added Allen.

Allen also thanked RMEF supporters for their dedication to conservation across the country.

RMEF grants will help fund the following 2013 projects in Montana, listed by county:

Beaverhead County—Thin and burn 5,532 acres to retain sagebrush grassland habitat on elk summer range and calving habitat on Bureau of Land Management land (BLM) in the Medicine Lodge Watershed; aerially treat 430 acres of elk summer range to control spotted knapweed in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest (BDNF); treat 200 acres of BDNF land for noxious weeds and enhance and improve watershed and habitat by removing fencing no longer needed to aid recovering aspen; and enhance big game habitat on 156 acres of the BDNF by removing conifers among mountain mahogany, treating noxious weeds and burning slash piles.

Broadwater County—Hand slash and burn 702 acres of winter elk range to maintain grasslands and improve aspen in the Elkhorn Mountain Range on the Helena National Forest.

Flathead County—Thin and burn 1,500 acres to increase forage production for elk and other wildlife on the Flathead Indian Reservation (also affects Lake County); implement aerial and ground treatments for noxious weeds on 500 acres to improve prairie habitat for 300 wintering elk on the Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge; treat weed infestations on 460 acres of elk winter range on the Flathead National Forest and Bob Marshall Wilderness; slash and burn 280 acres to stimulate shrub and grass growth in the Flathead National Forest (FNF); implement slash and burn operations to improve 153 acres of year-long elk range in the FNF; and sponsor the Flathead Valley Archers Stumpshooter Youth Development Program.

Gallatin County—Treat 230 acres of noxious weeds on elk winter range on the western edge of Yellowstone National Park in the Gallatin National Forest; and promote RMEF and shooting sports while sponsoring the Montana High School Rodeo Finals.

Garfield County—Burn 1,875 acres on BLM and private lands to reduce stand density and increase forage on year-round elk habitat.

Lewis and Clark County—Sponsor 7th Annual Northwest Miniature Bullriding Finals featuring top riders from Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming.

Lincoln County—Treat noxious weeds on 250 miles of roads and release insects on 1,000 acres of elk winter range across swath of private, state and federal lands as part of a three-year project; implement noxious weed treatment on 22 acres on winter elk range in the Kootenai National Forest.

Madison County—Treat 165 acres of invasive weeds to improve forage on elk summer and transitional range in the Ruby Watershed on the BDNF.

Missoula County—Sponsor Forest Discovery Days, a three-day outdoor event attended by nearly 500 fifth graders offering education on career opportunities in the forest industry such as forest ecology, wildlife, wildfire, and wood processing.

Petroleum County—Conduct prescribed burn over 4,400 acres in the Missouri River Breaks as part of continuing partnership with BLM to increase the production and diversity of forbs on elk winter range.

Powell County—Treat 429 acres of noxious weeds in the Marcum Mountain area as part of a multi-year effort on BLM lands to increase forage for elk and other wildlife.

Ravalli County—Provide third year of funding for Bitterroot elk survival and recruitment study which includes additional calf tagging and follow-up to maintain an adequate sample size; and sponsor a workshop supporting a statewide coalition of diverse interests that raise awareness of local wildfire threats and issues.

Sanders County—Reduce encroaching conifers to rejuvenate shrubs, grasses and forbs across 1,098 acres of elk winter range in the Kootenai National Forest; chemically treat noxious weeds on 285 miles of roads (or approximately 900 acres) across private and public lands within the Fisher/Thompson conservation easement (also affects Flathead and Lincoln Counties); use chain saws to conduct pre-burn slash treatments on 75 acres of elk winter range in the Lolo National Forest.

Silver Bow County—Implement noxious weed treatment on 700 acres on BLM lands within the Big Hole River Watershed on critical elk and mule deer winter range and calving habitat.

Conservation projects are selected for grants using science-based criteria and a committee of RMEF volunteers and staff along with representatives from partnering agencies and universities. RMEF volunteers and staff select hunting heritage and marketing projects for funding.

Partners for 2012 projects in Montana include the Bureau of Land Management; Beaverhead-Deerlodge, Flathead, Gallatin, Helena, Kootenai, and Lolo National Forests; Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes; and other state agencies, private landowners, foundations, organizations and universities.