Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Partners Provide $3.3 Million for Conservation Projects

From the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont. —  The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners allocated $3,354,581 of grant funding to enhance wildlife habitat, scientific research and hunting heritage projects in Oregon. RMEF contributed $189,305 and leveraged an additional $3,165,276 in partner dollars.

“So much good will come from this funding across nearly 4,500 acres of elk habitat including noxious weed treatment, installing wildlife-friendly fencing and aspen, meadow, wetland and grassland restoration work,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “There are also three important research projects that will help shape the future of elk management as well as a number of projects that support and promote hunting.”

The conservation work will benefit Benton, Clackamas, Coos, Crook, Curry, Deschutes, Douglas, Grant, Harney, Jackson, Josephine, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Morrow, Multnomah, Polk, Shasta, Tillamook, Umatilla, Union, Wasco, Washington, Wheeler and Yamhill Counties. There are also several statewide projects.

Oregon is home to more than 15,000 RMEF members and 23 chapters.

“We salute our Oregon volunteers who give their time and effort to generate this vital funding for these 31 different projects,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “They also completed more than a half dozen different on the ground projects in their home state this year to improve the landscape for elk and other wildlife.”

Since 1986, RMEF and its partners completed 1,023 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Oregon with a combined value of more than $72.6 million. These projects protected or enhanced 854,161 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 135,046 acres.

Below is a list of Oregon’s 2021 projects, shown by county.

Benton County

  • Provide funding for the E. E. Wilson Wildlife Area youth pheasant hunt in Monmouth as an effort to introduce more youth to the outdoors and hunting (also benefits Clackamas, Curry, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Tillamook, Washington and Yamhill Counties).
  • Provide funding to help purchase safety whistles distributed to hunter education classes at the E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area near Adair Village, Albany Rifle & Pistol Club near Shedd and at the Cole Range in Elmira.

Coos County

  • Provide funding for a study to estimate calf survival and recruitment for Roosevelt elk in the Oregon Coast Range. Biologists will place 50 transmitters on cow elk over two years (2021-2022) to monitor elk numbers.
  • Provide manpower for five different volunteer projects over a four-month period in the Coos County Forest. Habitat stewardship work includes replacing old, barbed-wire fencing with new wildlife-friendly fencing and constructing fence crossings designed by volunteers.

Crook County

  • Provide funding and volunteer manpower to construct fencing that will protect 61 acres of aspen and meadow habitat in the Paulina Ranger District on the Ochoco National Forest. The goal is to prevent overgrazing by livestock and wildlife.

Curry County

  • Provide funding for the Shoot Gold 4-H Archery Club in Gold Beach which teaches safe and responsible archery shooting to youth ages 9 to 19.

Deschutes County

  • Provide funding for the Mountain View High School clay target club in Redmond. Participants in grades 6 to 12 learn about firearm safety and marksmanship.

Douglas County

  • Mow and burn 225 acres at the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area (EVA) on the Bureau of Land Management Coos Bay District to remove dead and decadent vegetation followed up by seeding and planting native forbs to maintain quality forage for elk. The EVA is the most visited site in the district, drawing 480,000 visitors annually.
  • Improve 45 acres of high mountain meadow habitat for elk, black-tailed deer and other bird and insect species near Watson Falls in the Diamond Lake Ranger District on the Umpqua National Forest. Treatments include the removal of encroaching conifers and shrub overgrowth followed by fertilization.
  • Provide funding for the Raise ‘Em Outdoors youth summer camp in Elkton. Participants ages 4 to 17 learn about archery, fishing, marksmanship, conservation and more.

Grant County

  • Provide funding for researchers to deploy 139 GPS radio collars as part of a study to determine movement patterns, seasonal use areas and annual survival in two large study areas across the Malheur, Ochoco and Umatilla National Forests in the Blue Mountains (also benefits Crook, Harney and Wheeler Counties).
  • Treat 1,000 acres of invasive grasses followed by the reseeding of native vegetation to improve the quality and quantity of winter elk forage within the Phillip W. Schneider Wildlife Area.

Harney County

  • Remove encroaching junipers from 665 acres of aspen, mountain mahogany and sagebrush habitat on the BLM Burns District to improve elk and deer forage. Oregon State University is also conducting long-term research in the immediate area to measure benefits to elk, mule deer, birds and vegetation.

Jackson County

  • Use a variety of methods to restore and enhance 95 acres of winter range on the BLM Medford District for elk and other wildlife.
  • Provide funding for the Cascade Christian High School clay target team involving competitors in grades 9 to 12 (also benefits Josephine and Shasta Counties).

Lane County

  • Improve four meadows, three wetlands and one timber harvested area, comprising of 34 total acres, in the McKenzie Ranger District on the Willamette National Forest. Specific treatments include conifer removal, native planting and invasive weed work on important big game habitat (also benefits Linn County)

Linn County

  • Remove non-native plants and conifer encroachment across 75 acres of winter range, summer range and migration corridors in the Sweet Home Ranger District on the Willamette National Forest. Elk Populations are substantially below state management objective in the Santiam Wildlife Management Unit.

Morrow County

  • Burn 6,000 acres on four units of the Umatilla National Forest to improve habitat for elk and other wildlife.
  • Work with landowners in elk calving areas and winter range of the Blue Mountains to modify 20 to 25 miles of fencing so it is more wildlife friendly.

Tillamook County

  • Provide funding and volunteer manpower for the Outdoor Dream Foundation hunt. RMEF and other partners collaborated for 15 consecutive years to host a youth on an elk hunt.

Umatilla County

  • Provide volunteer manpower to remove more than one mile of exclosure fencing originally built more than 20 years ago on the Bridge Creek Wildlife Area to keep elk and livestock out of a study area and to protect tree planting. Combined with work in 2019, volunteers removed more than 7.5 miles of old fencing.

Union County

  • Provide funding for research at the Starkey Experimental Forest and Range that analyzes long-term elk responses to habitat changes, recreational uses and predation. Findings will have applications to habitat and population management.

Wasco County

  • Treat 296 acres of invasive weeds that are toxic to elk, deer and livestock in the Barlow Ranger District on the Mount Hood National Forest adjacent to the White River Wilderness, White River Wildlife Area, Warm Springs Indian Reservation and private lands.

Washington County

  • Provide funding for the Aloha High School clay target team in Hillsboro, which consists of high school athletes in grades 9 to 12 competing in trapshooting.

Statewide

  • Provide funding for the Divide Camp veteran elk hunt near Joseph. The guided hunts help improve the mental health of veterans struggling with physical injuries, PTSD and traumatic brain injuries, through immersion in nature, outdoor experiences and camaraderie with other veterans.
  • Provide funding for the Oregon 4-H Shooting Sports program in Shedd. Participants learn many skills including marksmanship, safe and responsible use of firearms and archery equipment, and how to hunt.
  • Provide funding for the Ladies Hunting Camp near La Pine. The organization is designed to empower women to connect with the outdoors and build confidence and skills to be successful while hunting.

Project partners include the Ochoco, Umatilla, Umpqua and Willamette National Forests, Bureau of Land Management, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and conservation, sportsmen, university, civic and other government organizations and individuals.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

Founded more than 37 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of more than 231,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 8.2 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.

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