MISSOULA, Mont. — Wisconsin’s elk population will have better forage and hunters and wildlife watchers will get improved access to elk country thanks to the latest round of grant funding supplied by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners.
“We remain committed to ensuring the future of elk in Wisconsin just as we have been for more than three decades now,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “These grant dollars go on the ground to bolster habitat that benefit elk and a wide range of other wildlife and plant species in the state’s northern and southern elk zones.”
RMEF provided $111,535 that leveraged an additional $227,895 in conservation partner funding for 25 different projects.
Specific types of work include establishing and enhancing forest openings, forest thinning, invasive weed treatment, seeding, oak and aspen enhancement, improving trails and roads for access, research to better understand elk calf mortality and habitat usage, and support for camps, mentored hunts and other programs that further hunting and conservation.
Wisconsin is home to more than 11,200 RMEF members and 24 chapters.
“It’s our dedicated volunteer base that makes this allocation possible,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “We recognize and thank them for generating this funding by hosting fundraising banquets and other activities.”
Below is a list and locations of the Wisconsin projects.
- Provide funding to maintain and upgrade hunter walking trail systems adjacent to 223 acres of managed wildlife openings on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Habitat damage and wildlife displacement is at risk due to illegal ATV/UTV use so crews plan to replace gates while still ensuring safe passage for non-motorized trail users (also benefits Bayfield and Sawyer Counties).
- Use a combination of mowing, fertilizer application, invasive weed treatment, tilling and seeding across 80 acres of forage openings used by elk, deer, turkey and other wildlife on the Jackson County Forest within the state’s southern elk zone. The openings make up less than one percent of the forest but provide critical forage.
- Seed 40 acres with cool season grass and forb mix to improve elk distribution and movement, reduce chance for agricultural conflicts and enhance elk habitat on private land.
- Thin white pine and red maple species within 62 acres of oak and aspen stands to promote a healthy acorn crop and foraging habitat for elk, deer, turkey, grouse and other wildlife on the Black River State Forest.
- Provide funding support for the Harborside Academy National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP), a combined middle and high school club now being taught as part of the physical education curriculum (also benefits Milwaukee and Racine Counties).
- Provide funding for Youth Outdoor Fest, an annual gathering for youth to learn about hunting, fishing, archery, kayaking, boating, camping and wildlife (also benefits Jackson, Monroe, Trempealeau and Vernon Counties).
- Provide funding support for Marathon County Sporting Heritage Youth Day, a volunteer event centered on outdoor activities like hunting, fishing and trapping (also benefits Lincoln and Potage Counties).
- Provide funding for Boy Scouts and volunteers to construct a sparring stand and scratching post to help elk shed their velvet at the Milwaukee County Zoo.
- Provide funding for the St. Patrick School NASP team, which recorded the highest bullseye team score for elementary and middle school divisions at the state tournament.
- Provide funding for Youth and Lady Day, an educational program that includes safe firearms handling and shooting, fishing, archery, wild game cooking, taxidermy and other activities (also benefits Brown, Calumet, Oconto, Shawano, Waupaca and Winnebago Counties).
- Provide funding for upgrades and equipment for the Grafton archery and outdoor range. The program offers youth education about archery skills and the importance of bowhunting in wildlife conservation (also benefits Washington County).
- Provide funding to cover the cost of team activities for the Clear Lake High School Trap Shooting Team (also benefits St. Croix County).
- Provide funding for the Clayton School District Trap Shooting Team, an opportunity for students in grades 6-12 to learn about gun safety and competition (also benefits Barron and St. Croix Counties).
- Provide funding for Youth in Outdoors family event for youth to explore various outdoor activities including shooting, archery, fishing and more (also benefits Barron, Dunn and St. Croix Counties).
- Remove brush, rocks and stumps followed by fertilizer, lime and seed application to establish a 9.6-acre forage opening in the Price County Forest. Crews will also improve more than two miles of roads used to access the area and provide walk-in access for hunting and other activities.
- Provide support for the Richland Center Archery Club Youth Day, an opportunity for boys and girls to shoot 3D archery targets, BB guns, .22 rifles and learn hunting skills.
- Provide funding and volunteer support for the Rock County Youth Outdoor Skills Day and Pheasant Hunt. RMEF volunteers supply dogs and host the wing shooting and pheasant shooting skills portion of the event.
- Apply a combination of mowing and prescribed burning across 358 acres and 70.5 miles of forage and linear openings to enhance habitat in the northern elk zone, site of the state’s first elk restoration on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Flambeau River State Forest, Sawyer County Forest and RMEF-held voluntary conservation agreement lands (also benefits Ashland and Rusk Counties).
- Improve public access into three areas of the Flambeau River and Sawyer County Forests for forage and timber management as well as hunter access. Work includes installing ford crossings, grade repair and restructure, and improving forest trails. The area is used by elk as a calving area and year-long habitat.
- Provide funding for the Random Lake Conservation Fair, an opportunity for students to learn about conservation, hunting, land stewardship and hands-on activities like archery, fishing, pellet pistols, birdhouse building and more (also benefits Ozaukee and Washington Counties).
- Provide funding for the Little Hills Youth Day, a weekend gathering for participants to learn about hunter safety, archery, trap shooting and other activities (also benefits Chippewa, Clark, Eau Claire, Marathon, Price and Rusk Counties).
- Provide funding for the Kettle Moraine School District trap and sporting clays team, which provides students grades 6-12 to learn about shooting sports, safety and to participate in competitions.
- Provide financial support for scholarship attendees to attend the four-day Raised at Full Draw Wisconsin Bowhunting Camp. Participants learn about all-things hunting as well as wilderness first aid, navigation and building emergency fires and shelters.
- Provide funding for an Outdoor Adventures for Cancer Survivors Hunt. The program raises funds to cover expenses for Wisconsin survivors to go on a hunt.
- Provide funding for research to gain a better understanding of the timing and location of calving as well as causes of mortality. Researchers will place collars on 75 elk calves over three years. Findings will supply population models and guide future habitat treatments that improve calf survival.
Project partners include the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, private landowners and various conservation, sportsmen, business and other groups.
Since 1990, RMEF and its partners completed 612 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Wisconsin with a combined value of more than $12.1 million. These projects conserved and enhanced 9,921 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 2,000 acres.
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 more than 8.5 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.