The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) recognizes people and partnerships for helping exemplify its motto, “Caring for the Land and Serving the People.” In doing so, the USFS Northern Region recently recognized the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation with its Delivering Benefits to the Public Award.
Specifically, RMEF received the honor for a multi-year collaboration to increase and improve access through the acquisition and management of critical public lands across four Montana counties. RMEF and its partners worked to acquire 4,000 acres of land valued at $6 million across six land tracts, including the Falls Creek acquisition (see above photo), added to the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest. The projects consolidated ownership responsibilities, improved forest resource management, enhanced wildlife habitat and collectively improved public access for hunting, fishing and other recreational activities to 40,000 acres of adjacent public lands.
“These projects don’t happen without partners–the Forest Service and private landowners. This award and the six projects completed mean shared mission success so the Forest Service and RMEF working together on wildlife habitat projects, public access work and improving long-term management efforts of the National Forest is our payday. That’s what we work for,” said Jennifer Doherty, RMEF director of lands and access. “We’re so grateful for the recognition and grateful for the partnership with the Forest Service and we can’t wait for what comes next and the projects we have in the queue with all of you.”
To date, RMEF and the USFS completed 112 land conservation and access projects nationally that conserved 155,356 acres of habitat, including 71 projects in the Northern Region alone that conserved nearly 89,000 acres.
“Meaningful collaborations with our partners not only furthers the value of the agency’s public service and conservation goals but creates lasting public and private relationships, increases employee and partner morale, and contributes to the overall mission of stewarding the whole for these valuable public spaces,” according to a USFS statement.
The USFS Northern Region manages 25 million acres of public lands across five states. Its 12 National Forests are spread across North Idaho, Montana and a sliver of northeast Washington while its National Grasslands of the Dakota Prairie Grasslands are in North Dakota and northwestern South Dakota.
(Photo credit: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)