MISSOULA, Mont. — From research focused on the cause of declining elk numbers to projects aimed at enhancing wildlife habitat and supporting hunting heritage, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its conservation partners supplied $2,176,597 to Colorado. The grant funding benefits elk, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, black bears, mountain lions and many other wildlife species.
“The more verified, scientific information we can gather about elk and habitat usage, the better management decisions will be made for all wildlife going forward,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “This funding bolsters five research efforts, helps improve wildlife habitat and both defends and supports hunting.”
The 23 different projects received $491,808 in RMEF funding that helped leverage $1,684,789 in partner dollars.
“We recognize and thank our passionate volunteers for planning and hosting banquets and other events across the state that raised this funding,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO.
Colorado is home to nearly 15,000 RMEF members and 29 chapters.
Dating back to 1987, RMEF and its partners completed 870 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Colorado with a combined value of more than $206.4 million. These projects conserved and enhanced 507,384 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 119,612 acres.
See a full list of the 2023-funded* projects below.
(*Many projects that receive funding in one year carry over into the following years.)
- Supply funding to capture cow elk and outfit them with satellite collars so researchers can identify seasonal ranges, migration corridors, movement patterns and habitat use on the Pike-San Isabel National Forest and private lands. Findings will help game managers determine population model estimates, monitor survival and mortality causes, and identify land conservation and highway crossing needs (also benefits Fremont, Lake and Saguache Counties).
- Provide funding support for Delta Outdoor Heritage and Safety Day, a free event for all ages to participate in a fishing derby, shooting, archery, wildlife learning and more (also benefits Montrose County).
- Thin 634 acres of dense pinyon-juniper woodlands and conifer-encroached sagebrush communities within elk and mule deer range as well as sage-grouse habitat on land managed by the BLM Colorado River Valley Field Office. The treatment includes seeding grasses, shrubs and forbs to restore habitat that also benefits pronghorn antelope, wild turkey and other wildlife (also benefits Routt County).
El Paso County
- Provide funding support for the Pikes Peak Orange Crush team to send youth participants to the AIM Trapshooting Grand National Championships.
- Supply funding for the Grand County 4-H Shooting Sports Program that teaches youth firearms safety and skills while also providing opportunities to complete hunter safety training.
- Provide RMEF volunteers to help remove 1.1 miles of old fencing from elk and mule deer habitat on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Kremmling Field Office.
- Supply funding for research to assess the effect of wolves on elk behavior and help identify important winter range and migration corridors in the North Park area. The study will also help guide season structures and hunter accessibility (also benefits Larimer and Routt Counties).
- Provide volunteers to remove a quarter mile of old fencing and treat invasive weeds at Golden Gate Canyon State Park. RMEF volunteers assisted with the project over several years.
Las Animas County
- Remove young trees and woody vegetation in overly thick stands across 170 acres of the Bosque del Oso State Wildlife Area to improve forage and overall forest health for wildlife.
- Allocate funding for the Dolores School District’s National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP), to expand its current 4th-5th grade curriculum and teams to the middle and high schools.
- RMEF volunteers and contracted crews remove five miles of old wire fencing in the South Park Ranger District of the Pike-San Isabel National Forest that burned in the 2018 Weston Pass Wildfire. The project enhances winter range and calving habitat and also makes it easier for wildlife to move across the landscape.
Rio Blanco County
- Supply funding for Family Cast, Blast and Twang in Meeker, a free event offering those interested to learn outdoor skills including .22 rifle and shotgun shooting, archery, fly fish casting and spin fishing (also benefits Moffat, Routt and Yuma Counties).
- Provide volunteers to remove one mile of barbed wire fencing in the Blanco Ranger District of the White River National Forest to allow elk, mule deer, pronghorn antelope and other wildlife to more easily cross the landscape.
- Install virtual fencing to improve grazing and habitat management on upwards of 136,500 acres in the Hahns Peak/Bears Ears Ranger District of the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest. Virtual fencing is a wildlife-friendly fence option that offers wildlife managers and livestock producers the ability to monitor and manage grazing in real time to address seasonal wildlife habitat needs, sensitive plant populations, streambank stabilization, soil nutrient cycling, cultural resource protection, weed expansion, drought, wildfire and more.
- Supply funding for a new study to evaluate how cow elk respond to recreational activity, particularly during calving and calf-rearing seasons, on the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest near Steamboat Springs. Data gathered will help influence trail development, management plans and minimize impacts to elk (also benefits Grand and Jackson Counties).
- Create wildlife habitat openings on private land impacted by fire suppression and bark beetle infestation while also thinning aspen stands to improve aspen regeneration. The project mainly takes place on land conserved by RMEF voluntary conservation agreements.
- Allocate funding for Outdoor Skills Day at Mueller State Park, a free opportunity for participants to learn the basics or test their skills at many outdoor activities (also benefits Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Douglas, Elbert, El Paso, Fremont, Jefferson, Park and Pueblo Counties).
- Provide support for Colorado Park and Wildlife’s Cameo Shooting and Education Complex, a 2,000-acre facility helping participants learn how to shoot, sharpen skills and take part in competitions.
- Supply funding for the Rocky Mountain Heroes Foundation, founded by three RMEF life members, to host mentored big game hunts for first-time youth hunters.
- Allocate funding for Of Mountains and Men, a nonprofit organization that hosts mentored big game hunts for youth ages 12 to 17 who completed hunter education.
- Provide Torstenson Family Endowment funding in defense of hunting heritage and scientific wildlife management to counter a measure seeking to ban the management of mountain lions, bobcats and lynx.
- Supply funding for two phases of research to examine the declining survival rates of juvenile elk and the increasing number of recreationists on the landscape. Results will help biologists better manage and conserve Colorado’s elk population.
Project partners include Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Bureau of Land Management, Pike-San Isabel, Medicine Bow-Routt and White River National Forests, and various conservation, sportsmen, government and business organizations as well as private landowners.
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 8.8 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.