MISSOULA, Mont. — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners awarded $1,129,112 in grant funding to support wildlife habitat enhancement, scientific research and hunting heritage efforts in Pennsylvania. RMEF directly granted $60,256 and leveraged an additional $1,068,856 in partner dollars.
“Pennsylvania is home to beautiful hardwood forests but they are negatively impacted in places by encroaching growth and even exotic insects. And that leads to poor habitat for elk and other wildlife,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “This grant funding assists those issues as well as biologists seeking to gain a better scientific understanding of elk calf survival rates.”
Twelve projects benefit Bedford, Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Crawford, Dauphin, Elk, Erie, Lycoming, Mercer, Northumberland, Potter, Schuylkill and Sullivan Counties. An additional five projects are of statewide benefit.
There are 29 chapters and more than 14,000 RMEF members in Pennsylvania.
“We salute our dedicated volunteers in Pennsylvania,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “Because of their efforts, this funding is available to improve elk habitat in their backyards and around the nation.”
Since 1991, RMEF and its partners completed 503 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Pennsylvania with a combined value of more than $27.4 million. These projects protected or enhanced 27,407 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 10,189 acres.
Below is a list of RMEF’s 2020 Pennsylvania projects, shown by county.
- Provide funding for the Everett Sportsman Junior Rifle Club which promotes safety, education and instruction for indoor competitive rifle shooting.
- Provide funding for the Everett Area School District High School Rifle Team to assist with competition and other activities.
- Provide funding and volunteer manpower to remove buckthorn on State Game Lands #14. The invasive shrub spreads when the forest canopy is opened hampering efforts to create early successional habitat preferred by elk, deer and other wildlife.
- Provide funding to conduct a study assessing cow elk parturition timing and calf survival rates to better understand when calving and breeding occurs and the relationship to calf survival. Biologists capture and fit cow elk with GPS collar transmitters allowing for continuous monitoring of survival after birth and precise backdating to determine conception date (also benefits Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk and Potter Counties).
- Treat 60 acres across the Dry Hollow area of State Game Lands #14 to kill an exotic insect known to adversely impact hemlock trees. The project also includes planting 1,200 conifer seedlings and improving timber stands to create early seral habitat for wildlife. Streamside hemlock are important to maintaining Dry Hollow, an important cold water fishery and tributary of East Hicks Run.
- Mow and treat herbaceous openings on the Sproul State Forest followed by replanting a clover mix to enhance elk habitat and elk viewing opportunities.
- Maintain 20 acres of wildlife forage openings on the Moshannon State Forest via liming, seeding and fertilization to benefit elk, ruffed grouse, American woodcock, white-tailed deer, black bear, cottontail rabbit and various songbirds.
- Provide funding for the Lake Edinboro Sportsman League’s Youth Clay Target Shooting and Development Program. Participating youth learn safe and responsible firearms handling and competitive clay target shooting (also benefits Erie and Mercer Counties).
- Provide funding to assist the Tri-Valley High School archery team as it competes in the National Archery in the Schools Program (also benefits Northumberland and Schuykill Counties).
- Improve 9-acres on private land heavily used by elk near Benezette by deepening and fortifying a one-acre pond, and applying a mixture of tilling, forage seeding, fertilization and tree thinning.
- Provide funding for the Consolidated Sportsmen of Muncy Creeks 2020 Youth Outdoor Education program. It introduces youth to conservation, fishing, camping and shooting sports (also benefits Sullivan County).
- Provide funding to maintain 145 acres of existing herbaceous openings, convert another 15 acres of open canopy into herbaceous habitats and convert another 60 acres of mature aspen into early successional aspen habitat in the Susquehannock State Forest. Elk consistently select early successional open canopy and forest habitats that provide herbaceous forage.
- Provide funding toward a reward for information leading to an arrest and prosecution of those responsible for poaching three elk in northwest Pennsylvania.
- Provide funding for the Wildlife Leadership Academy, a program designed to empower high school students from across the state to become ambassadors for wildlife conservation in order to ensure a sustained wildlife legacy for future generations. Participants are selected for their academic performance, community service experience and interest in wildlife biology and conservation.
- Provide funding for an effort to educate visitors about the history of elk and safe viewing practices.
- Provide funding for an annual youth pheasant hunt hosted by the Bedford County Sportsmen’s Club. Youth between the ages of 12 and 16 who successfully completed a Hunter-Trapper Education course can participate.
- Provide funding for 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. Once trained, participants extend their knowledge throughout their communities through projects such as invasive species removal, habitat restoration, citizen science, educational materials development, public presentations and educational program support.
Project partners include the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, private landowners and various conservation, sportsmen and other organizations.
About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Founded more than 36 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of nearly 235,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 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 rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.