MISSOULA, Mont. — Washington’s elk, deer, moose, turkey and other wildlife species are getting $1,679,574 in grant funding to enhance habitat and improve both migration corridors and scientific research. The funds, supplied by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners, also support an array of mentored hunting, fishing, youth camps and other outdoor-related events and activities.
“These 2023 projects place significant focus on invasive weed treatments across several landscapes as well as wildfire restoration and improving watersheds and wildlife forage,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “Two projects help improve wildlife movement and another supplies funding for research to assess elk survival and movement in the North Cascades.”
RMEF provided $564,606 that helped leverage $1,114,968 in partner dollars for the 35 different projects (see project list below).
There are 23 chapters and nearly 13,000 RMEF members across Washington.
“We would not have this funding to put on the ground if it weren’t for our passionate volunteers who host RMEF banquets and other fundraising events. To them, we say ‘Thank you,’” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO.
Dating back to 1985, RMEF and its partners completed 780 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Washington with a combined value of more than $133 million. These projects conserved or enhanced 512,123 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 130,661 acres.
- Treat 1,142 acres for invasive weeds to enhance habitat for elk, mule deer and bighorn sheep in remote stretches of the Chief Joseph and W.T. Wooten Wildlife Areas (also benefits Columbia and Garfield Counties).
- Aerially seed native grasses across 655 acres on the Asotin Creek Wildlife Area yet to fully recover from the 2021 Lick Creek Wildfire. The project is part of RMEF’s ongoing commitment to wildfire restoration.
- Prescribed burn 995 acres of critical elk summer range to improve elk, mule deer and bighorn sheep forage in the Pomeroy Ranger District on the Umatilla National Forest. Invasive weed treatment is also planned for select portions of the project area.
- Provide volunteer manpower from Washington and Idaho over three days to remove 2.75 miles of old barbed wire fencing and/or replace 13 wildlife water troughs damaged by wildfire in the Asotin Creek Wildlife Area, which provides critical habitat for elk, black bear, mule deer, bighorn sheep and other wildlife.
- Treat 2,300 acres across the Rainwater Wildlife Area for invasive weeds. Lying at the foot of the Blue Mountains, the landscape supplies critical winter range for elk, whitetail and mule deer.
- Apply fertilizer across 110 acres on the Mudflow Unit of the Mount Saint Helens Wildlife Area to enhance forage for wintering elk.
- Treat 100 acres for invasive weeds in the same location as above.
- Treat 150 acres of invasive weeds on critical elk habitat on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and Mount Saint Helens Wildlife Area (also benefits Skamania County).
- Provide volunteer manpower for two different two-day work projects to remove invasive shrubs while also placing protective caging around young, regenerating trees and shrubs on the Mount St. Helens Wildlife Area.
- Provide funding for Wenatchee Sportsmen’s Association North Central Washington Youth Hunting and Fishing Day. Youth learn about rifle and archery safety and instruction, fishing skills, conservation and other outdoor-related activities (also benefits Chelan County).
- Supply funding to install new fencing at an Interstate 90 underpass east of Seattle between Preston and North Bend. Currently Washington’s oldest underpass, the current fencing is too constrictive to be effective for wildlife passage.
- Treat 1,000 acres for invasive weeds and seed with native grasses on the L.T. Murray Wildlife Area. In the heart of the Colockum elk herd’s winter range, the project area is also important to greater sage-grouse and a mule deer migration corridor.
- Selectively thin 281 acres on the Colockum Wildlife Area where past prescribed fire operations did not completely remove ladder fuels and undesirable vegetation. The project is part of an effort to increase wildfire resilience, lessen the potential for disease and improve habitat.
- Provide funding to replace two miles of old barbed wire fencing with wildlife-friendly fencing where wildfire impacted the Colockum Wildlife Area.
- Supply funding to support the Bonaparte Lake Youth Fishing Derby. Participants learn about fish and water safety, receive lunch and go home with fishing gear (also benefits Ferry County).
Pend Oreille County
- Supply funding to support of the National Hunting and Fishing Day celebration, a family-oriented event to introduce youth to hunting, fishing, target shooting and conservation.
- Provide funding for a scientific study to examine the survival rates, mortality causes, habitat use and movement patterns of the North Cascades elk herd. Researchers will place GPS collars on cows in the Nooksack Game Management Unit (also benefits Whatcom County).
- Treat 11 meadows and/or forage openings for invasive weeds in the Mount Adams Ranger District on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The areas are heavily used by elk, blacktail deer and a variety of other species.
- Thin 60 acres and of dense timber on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and apply seeding to enhance Roosevelt elk winter range. The work is part of a multi-year, 6,000-acre project to improve wildlife habitat, forest health and restore watersheds.
- Supply an elk education trunk to be used at outdoor shows, RMEF banquets and other events to help others learn about elk, hunting and conservation.
- Plant 1,500 pine trees across 50 acres of private land to improve year-long and elk calving habitat as part of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Private Lands Program, which works with landowners to open their lands for public hunting and restore and enhance wildlife habitat.
- Thin 217 acres of dense, regenerating timber stands on the Oak Creek Wildlife Area to remove an overabundance of fine fuels and improve habitat for elk and other wildlife species.
- Supply funding for the Tieton Junior Rifle Club, a group that learns about gun safety while participating in recreational shooting competitions.
- Provide funding for the Kamiakin Roving Archers to expand and promote field archery, bowhunting and sportsmanship for youth and adult participants (also benefits Kittitas County).
- Supply volunteer manpower to build 470 yards of buck and pole rail fencing on the Oak Creek Wildlife Area to protect two meadows from unauthorized vehicle access.
- Provide volunteers to remove invasive weeds and brush from elk winter range at the Oak Creek Wildlife Area. Crews also dismantled and removed old structures on the property.
- Provide funding and volunteer support to help with the Oroville Sportsmen Club’s annual Memorial Day Archery Shoot. The multi-day, family-friendly event offers hands-on instruction in archery safety, training and shooting.
- Supply funding for Cross the Divide, a nonprofit that hosts veterans and their families on elk, deer, bear and turkey hunts.
- Provide funding support for the Washington State Youth Conservation Camps, multiple-day gatherings for youth to learn about wildlife and fisheries management, forestry, ecology, marine biology, conservation, hunter safety and other activities.
- Supply funding and volunteer support to assist Salmon for Soldiers, a nonprofit that offers free fishing outings to hundreds of veterans with debilitating challenges.
- Provide funding for Outdoors For Our Heroes, a nonprofit organization that hosts disabled veterans and first responders on hunting outings.
- Supply funding support for the Chris Christensen Memorial Youth Deer Camp for a dozen qualifying youth to learn about hunting, firearm safety, field dressing, marksmanship prior to going on a hunt.
- Provide support for Youth Outdoors Unlimited, a nonprofit that offers hunting and fishing opportunities to youth with disabilities and life-threatening illnesses.
- Supply funding for Washington Outdoor Women, an organization that tutors women and girls in outdoors skills, gear and ethics.
Project partners include the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Gifford Pinchot, Okanagan-Wenatchee and Umatilla National Forests, Washington Department of National Resources, Bureau of Indian Affairs, private landowners and various conservation, sportsmen, business and community groups.
About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Founded more than 39 years ago and fueled by hunters, RMEF maintains more than 225,000 members and has conserved more than 8.7 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.