MISSOULA, Mont. — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners allocated $6,046,939 in 2022 grant funding to conserve and improve wildlife habitat, enhance public access and assist scientific research in Wyoming. RMEF directly granted $310,656 that leveraged an additional $5,736,283 in partner dollars.
“This funding is extremely critical and goes on the ground for 20 different projects across the state including wildfire restoration, aspen enhancement, invasive weed control, stabilizing stream bank erosion, conifer thinning, water source improvement and three research projects,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “Other projects include conserving more than 2,200 acres of elk habitat, providing funding to improve elk hunting access on private land and more than a dozen projects that support hunting, recreational shooting and outdoors-related endeavors.”
There are 22 RMEF chapters and more than 7,600 members in Wyoming.
“Our dedicated volunteers have a long and successful history of generating funding at chapter banquets and other events in Wyoming,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “We express our sincere gratitude for them and their ongoing efforts that help further our mission.”
Below is a list of the 2022-funded projects.
- Plant up to 100 seedlings per acre across 900 acres of habitat on the Medicine Bow National Forest, where the 2018 Badger Creek and 2020 Mullen Wildfires burned nearly 200,000 acres. The project is part of RMEF’s ongoing $1 million commitment toward wildfire restoration work (also benefits Carbon County)
- Treat 880 acres of invasive cheatgrass on private lands impacted by the 2018 Britannia Wildfire. The area serves as important transitional and winter range for elk, mule deer and bighorn sheep.
- Treat 2,628 acres of invasive cheatgrass on the Thorne/Williams Wildlife Habitat Management Area that serves as crucial winter range for elk, mule deer and bighorn sheep.
Big Horn County
- Provide funding for the Paintrock Hunter Mentor Program (PHMP), which encourages and provides opportunities for youth to hunt and fish. In addition to offering mentored hunts, PHMP also sponsors a community service project that donates deer meat to those in need (also benefits Converse, Hot Springs Natrona, Park and Washakie Counties).
- Provide funding for the Gillette High School trap team, which provides a safe and controlled environment for any type of shooter from beginners to those more experienced (also benefits Crook County).
- Update an existing wildlife water guzzler and associated fence exclosure on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on the eastern slope of the Ferris Mountains.
- Selectively thin conifers across 100 acres of private lands to improve habitat for elk, mule deer, sage grouse and other wildlife, and prevent the spread of mountain pine beetle and reduce severe wildfire risk (also benefits Weston County).
- Provide funding for a voluntary conservation agreement to conserve 2,280 acres of working agricultural lands and wildlife habitat on private land in the Black Hills about three miles east of Devil’s Tower.
- Remove conifer encroachment from 500 acres in the Washakie Ranger District on the Shoshone National Forest improving aspen enhancement across the entire South Pass area in the southern end of the Wind River Range, an area providing important winter, calving and transitional range for elk and other species.
- Prescribed burn 1,300 acres, including 680 acres on Whiskey Mountain in the Wind River Ranger District on the Shoshone National Forest and 620 acres on the Whiskey Basin Wildlife Habitat Management Area to open migration routes and enhance forage for elk, bighorn sheep and mule deer.
- Provide funding and volunteer manpower to remove obsolete barbwire fencing that thwarts migrating wildlife (also benefits Albany, Laramie, Sublette, Sweetwater and Teton Counties).
- Provide funding to support a film highlighting ranchers committed to preserving their western heritage way of life and the wildlife that use their land (also benefits Albany, Carbon, Laramie, Sublette and Teton Counties as well as Gallatin County, Montana).
- Provide funding to support the Becoming an Outdoors Woman and #WYHUNTFISH Mentoring Camp programs. Participants gain skills to become better hunters and those who successfully draw a tag, work with a mentor and hunting partner to head afield (also benefits Teton County).
Hot Springs County
- Provide funding for the Hot Springs County 4-H Shooting Sports Program that teaches safe and responsible use of firearms and archery equipment with an additional focus on conservation.
- Treat 2,520 acres of habitat infested with invasive cheatgrass on BLM-managed, state and private land vital for elk, sage grouse, mule deer and pronghorn antelope.
- Construct temporary exclosure fencing around a previously treated 12-acre aspen stand on BLM-managed land on Green Mountain to enhance aspen growth.
- Provide funding to identify the most crucial sections of fence to be removed or modified as part of research to assist elk migration patterns.
- Remove encroaching conifers across 250 acres of BLM-managed land within the Gooseberry Creek watershed to assist aspen enhancement on the Absaroka Front (also benefits Hot Springs County).
- Provide funding for the Platte County 4-H Shooting Sports program that allows youth to learn the value of marksmanship, safe and responsible use of firearms, hunting and other skills.
- Treat 7,274 acres of ventenata, an invasive annual grass that has little or no nutritional value, across the Buffalo Run State of Wyoming Land Trust land, a popular area for sportsmen and outdoor recreation.
- Improve 125 acres of stream and pasture conditions along 2.5 stream miles in the upper Hoback River drainage on the Bridger-Teton National Forest and private land by converting 4,300 feet of existing fencing to wildlife-friendly fencing. Additionally, the installation of fence exclosures will protect cottonwood and willow planted to stabilize stream banks.
- Install temporary fence exclosures to assist the growth of 29 acres of aspen and willow stands on the Soda Lake Wildlife Habitat Management Area, key winter range for elk.
- Provide funding for Sweetwater County 4-H Shooting Sports, a club dedicated to teaching youth about firearms safety and marksmanship including archery, muzzleloading, pistol, rifle and shotgun disciplines.
- Install 8-foot temporary fencing on private land to allow recovery of natural and planted woody vegetation on 80 acres along the Snake River at the foot of Munger Mountain.
- Burn and thin conifers encroaching on aspen stands across 1,552 acres in the Teton Basin Ranger District on the Caribou-Targhee National Forest to improve habitat for elk, mule deer, moose and other wildlife while also reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire within the Teton Basin.
- Provide funding for the state’s Access Yes program to secure and improve public access for hunting and fishing on privately-owned land.
- Provide funding to evaluate key areas where conserving private lands will help maintain or improve big game migration corridors. Support research to analyze GPS data from multiple elk herds to identify why elk switch movement strategies, as part of an effort to better understand migration corridors.
- Provide funding for signage promoting the safe crossing of wildlife along portions of Highway 34 and I-25 in southeast Wyoming.
- Provide financial support for the Wyoming Outdoor Weekend & Expo, a free, family-friendly, hands-on outdoor experience and education to promote future conservationists who value wildlife, the outdoors and their communities.
- Provide funding to Wyoming Disabled Hunters, a nonprofit devoted to providing quality hunting experiences to men and women with disabilities from around the country.
Since 1986, RMEF and its partners completed 892 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Wyoming with a combined value of more than $175.9 million. These projects conserved and enhanced 1,261,048 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 200,696 acres.
Project partners include the Bridger-Teton, Caribou-Targhee, Medicine Bow-Routt and Shoshone Nationals Forests, Bureau of Land Management, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, University of Wyoming, private landowners and various conservation, sportsmen and women, and other organizations.
About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Founded more than 38 years ago and fueled by hunters, RMEF maintains more than 225,000 members and has conserved nearly 8.4 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.