MISSOULA, Mont. — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners awarded $2,047,704 of grant funding in Idaho to benefit habitat for elk and other wildlife as well as hunting heritage projects. RMEF directly granted $232,369 and leveraged an additional $1,815,335 in partner funding.
“Idaho is home to key habitat for elk and other wildlife but there are places where habitat enhancement work in the form of prescribed burning, forest thinning, aspen restoration and invasive weed treatment can make an impactful difference,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “This grant funding will also assist Idaho youth to learn more about hunting, shooting sports, conservation and the outdoors.”
Twelve habitat enhancement projects will improve 16,130 acres. Thirteen hunting heritage projects support shooting sports, conservation outreach and mentored hunts.
Counties positively impacted include Ada, Adams, Blaine, Boise, Bonner, Bonneville, Boundary, Camas, Caribou, Cassia, Custer, Elmore, Franklin, Fremont, Gem, Idaho, Kootenai, Minidoka, Oneida, Shoshone, Teton, Valley and Washington Counties. Three projects are of statewide benefit.
“We salute our volunteers in Idaho who raised these funds by hosting banquets, membership drives and other events,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “It is thanks to their efforts that elk country is enhanced in Idaho and across the country.”
There are nearly 9,000 members across 18 chapters in Idaho.
Since 1985, RMEF and its partners completed 605 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Idaho with a combined value of more than $83.5 million. These projects protected or enhanced 558,332 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 28,509 acres.
Below is a list of Idaho’s 2020 projects, shown by county.
- Burn 3,000 acres to improve habitat for elk, mule deer and other wildlife in the New Meadows Ranger District on the Payette National Forest. The project will also reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire.
- Monitor and treat 2,000 acres of elk summer range to contain invasive weeds on the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.
- Remove encroaching conifers across 96 acres of sagebrush steppe and aspen habitat from elk summer range in the Fairfield Ranger District on the Sawtooth National Forest. The project is near the Smiley Creek and Beaver Creek drainages and also benefits deer, pronghorn antelope, moose and black bear.
- Provide funding for the Blaine County 4-H Shooting Sports program that teaches youth about archery both for competition and hunting.
- Burn 4,000 acres across three different areas on the Idaho Panhandle National Forest to enhance wildlife habitat and improve overall forest health (also benefits Boundary, Kootenai and Shoshone Counties).
- Positively impact 467 acres of winter range for elk and mule deer in the Palisades Ranger District on the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. Crews will thin encroaching juniper followed by prescribed burning and spot spray invasive weeds.
- Treat invasive weeds across 500 acres of winter range used by elk, pronghorn antelope, moose, mule deer and sage grouse on the Sawtooth National Forest’s Fairfield Ranger District (also benefits Elmore County).
- Reduce juniper encroachment across 3,260 acres of elk, sage grouse and mule deer habitat as part of a multi-year effort in the Minidoka Ranger District on the Sawtooth National Forest.
- Provide funding to the Burley Trap and Sporting Clays Club to improve range access for individuals in wheelchairs and/or with limited mobility.
- Provide funding for the Burley Bobcats to participate in the 2020 USA Youth Education in Shooting Sports annual Tri-State Target Challenge. Youth from Idaho, Nevada and Utah will compete in trap, sporting clays and skeet at the Pocatello Trap Club in Pocatello and Cedar Hills Gun Club in Blackfoot.
- Provide funding for the Cassia County 4-H Archery Club that teaches youth ages 8 to 19 how to safely and effectively shoot a bow and maintain their archery equipment (also benefits Minidoka County).
- Provide funding for the Minico Trap Team, a competitive shooting squad made up of boys and girls ages 12 to 16.
- Remove 50 acres of conifer encroachment in aspen stands on the Blackfoot River Wildlife Management Area as part of a larger effort to restore the riparian area.
- Provide funding for the South Custer 4-H Archery Club which provides youth ages 8 to 18 an opportunity to learn about the history of archery, safe bow shooting, hunting and conservation.
- Treat 320 acres (53 miles) of trails in the Idaho City and Mountain Home Ranger Districts on the Boise National Forest. The treated areas are within the 2013 Pond Wildfire and 2017 Pioneer Wildfire areas, both important to elk for winter range and calving habitat (also benefits Boise County).
- Provide funding for Elmore County Rusty Spurs 4-H Shooting Sports, a program that teaches youth ages 10 to 18 safe shooting and gun handling.
- Provide funding for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) Youth Cow Hunt. The program includes an essay contest for middle school students. Participants spend time together at a shooting range to practice and learn about hunter ethics and gun safety.
- Educate sportsmen and women who recreate in grizzly and black bear habitat of eastern Idaho and provide bear spray to participants (also benefits Teton County).
- Provide funding for crews to treat invasive weed infestations across 25 acres of trails, roads and campgrounds within the Lochsa and Selway River drainages on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest.
- Burn 412 acres of land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) near Malad to benefit elk summer range. This is the initial phase of a multi-year project using a combination of thinning, timber harvest and prescribed burning to treat upwards of 4,000 acres over 10 to 15 years.
- Provide funding for Idaho Women Outdoors, a one-day event that provides women an opportunity to gain experience in a variety of outdoor skills including shooting, archery, orienteering, wild game food preparation, birding and other activities (also benefits Ada, Adams and Washington Counties).
- Treat 2,000 acres of invasive weeds across BLM-managed public land to benefit elk and mule deer winter range (also benefits Adams and Gem Counties).
- Provide funding for the annual conference of The Wildlife Society’s Idaho Chapter in Moscow. The gathering of students and wildlife professionals focuses on balancing Idaho’s population growth with wildlife conservation needs.
- Provide funding for the Idaho Sportsmen’s Alliance (ISA) which works to protect and advance hunting, fishing, trapping and shooting sports in Idaho. ISA reviews timely issues in the state legislature, IDFG and other agencies that affect sportsmen and women. It provides key information about chronic wasting disease, game farms, habitat issues, fishing and hunting access, big game tag availability and other issues.
- Provide funding for Operation Pay It Forward to take four combat veterans through the pursuit of elk in Idaho. The organization aims to connect veterans with others that share the same passions and are willing to get them into the outdoors and enjoying life again.
Idaho project partners include the Boise, Caribou-Targhee, Idaho Panhandle, Nez Perce-Clearwater, Payette and Sawtooth National Forests, Bureau of Land Management, Idaho Department of Fish and Game and various conservation, sportsmen and other groups and individuals.
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.