MISSOULA, Mont. — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners awarded $2,583,519 of grant funding in Oregon to benefit scientific wildlife research and enhance habitat for elk and other species. RMEF directly granted $270,000 and leveraged an additional $2,313,519 in partner funding.
“This funding allows so much good to take place across the Oregon landscape,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “That includes improving winter range, strengthening aspen stands, upgrading riparian areas, restoring meadows, replacing unfriendly wildlife fencing, permanently protecting habitat, furthering elk-related scientific research and much more.”
Fourteen projects benefit 7,723 acres of wildlife habitat in Crook, Harney, Grant, Klamath, Lake, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Morrow, Union and Wheeler Counties.
There are 24 chapters and more than 16,000 RMEF members in Oregon.
“We salute our volunteers for their time and devotion in hosting banquets and other fundraising events,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “Thanks to them, we can put this funding back on the ground to carry out meaningful conservation work that began more than three decades ago.”
Since 1986, RMEF and its partners completed 963 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Oregon with a combined value of more than $63.4 million. These projects protected or enhanced 832,903 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 134,368 acres.
- Prescribe burn 1,000 acres in the Lookout Mountain Ranger District on the Ochoco National Forest to increase forage on winter range for elk and deer and redistribute big game from adjacent private lands. This project will reinvigorate native vegetation and also reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire in the McKay Creek watershed.
- Provide funding for a conservation easement on private land that permanently protects the wildlife values of 3,748 acres of elk and mule deer winter range as well as habitat for pronghorn antelope and other wildlife.
- Provide funding to study elk summer habitat selection and seasonal distribution on the Ochoco National Forest in relation to human pressure. The study is part of a larger elk collaring effort to define herd movement patterns, seasonal use areas, and annual survival in the Blue Mountains (also benefits Grant and Wheeler Counties).
- Prescribe burn and apply noxious weed treatment coupled with native seed planting across 160 acres of former agricultural land on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) administered lands along the John Day River and Bridge Creek in central Oregon. The treatment area includes upland sagebrush steppe habitat and riparian corridors that provide important winter range for elk and mule deer as well as food and cover for upland game and migrating songbirds.
- Thin 672 acres and restore 730 acres of meadows in the Paulina Ranger District on the Ochoco National Forest. The work is part of the Greater Williams Prairie Restoration Project that proposes to enhance 17,497 acres from ridge top to valley bottom to retain elk distribution on public land and minimize impacts to adjacent private lands in the Blue Mountains (also benefits Grant County).
- Determine elk movement patterns, seasonal use areas and annual survival in two large study areas in the Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon. The findings will better inform wildlife managers about population estimates, modeling, harvest strategies and damage management efforts (also benefits Crook, Harney and Wheeler Counties).
- Remove encroaching juniper across 334 acres to strengthen aspen stands, sagebrush communities and riparian habitat on BLM-administered lands in the North Steens area. Researchers established a pre- and post-treatment monitoring protocol to analyze treatment effects on vegetation, elk and deer populations, and song birds.
- Remove encroaching conifers on 205 acres within riparian, meadow, wetland and aspen habitat as part of the Upper Little Deschutes Watershed Restoration Project in the Crescent Ranger District on the Deschutes National Forest. Additionally, crews will place fencing around four acres of aspen trees to protect regenerating saplings, decommission unauthorized travel routes, camping and dump sites, and seed or plant native vegetation.
- Cut and pile encroaching conifers across 270 acres in the Lakeview Ranger District on the Fremont-Winema National Forest. The multi-year landscape-scale aspen restoration project benefits elk summer range as well as habitat for many other wildlife species.
- Treat 255 acres of coastal meadow habitat in the Central Coast Ranger District on the Siuslaw National Forest. Meadow maintenance fends off invasive plants and tree species while benefitting elk, black-tailed deer, ruffed grouse and other species (also benefits Lincoln County).
- Treat invasive plants, remove encroaching conifers and implement prescribed burning across 683 acres in the Middle Fork Ranger District on the Willamette National Forest. The primary focus is to enhance wildlife habitat, improve riparian corridors and meadows, strengthen biodiversity and improve overall landscape health.
- Restore 118 acres of meadows in the Detroit Ranger District on the Willamette National Forest by using a combination of conifer removal, invasive weed control, prescribed burning and other techniques. Roosevelt elk, black-tailed deer, other wildlife species and birds all use the North Santiam Watershed (also benefits Marion County).
- Replace 18 to 20 miles of woven wire fencing with wildlife-friendly fencing within elk winter and calving areas on private land within the Blue Mountains. The new fencing will include drop-rail wildlife jump sections and 500 vinyl reflective fence markers.
- Thin and reduce slash across 1,296 acres in the Syrup Creek area as part of the collaborative Starkey Experimental Forest and Range research program. The project is a follow-up to research completed in the 1990s and will lead to a better understanding of how reducing the density of young mixed conifer stands affects habitat use and forage quantity and quality for elk.
- Treat yellow starthistle infestations across 2,000 acres of crucial elk winter range on privately-owned lands in the Grande Ronde Basin.
Partners for the Oregon projects include Deschutes, Fremont-Winema, Ochoco, Siuslaw, Wallowa-Whitman, and Willamette National Forests, Bureau of Land Management, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, private landowners and various other groups and organizations.
About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Founded more than 35 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.