From the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
MISSOULA, Mont. — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners allocated $750,639 of grant funding to benefit wildlife habitat and hunting heritage projects in Idaho. RMEF contributed $202,550 and leveraged an additional $548,089 in partner dollars.
The grants fund nearly two dozen projects, positively impacting more than 17,000 acres of habitat across Adams, Blaine, Boise, Bonneville, Boundary, Caribou, Cassia, Clark, Clearwater, Fremont, Idaho, Latah, Lemhi, Owyhee, Shoshone, Teton and Washington Counties, including several of statewide benefit.
“This funding addresses a mix of projects that lie at the root of our mission of ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “Among them are efforts to enhance wildlife forage by removing encroaching conifers, applying prescribed burns, treating noxious weeds, rehabbing landscapes impacted by severe wildfires and removing old fencing and other debris that limit the movement of wildlife.”
There are 18 chapters and nearly 8,800 RMEF members in Idaho.
“We thank and salute our volunteers. It’s because of their efforts that we have this funding to spruce up Idaho elk country,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO.
Dating back to 1984, RMEF and its partners completed 641 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Idaho with a combined value of more than $85.4 million. These projects protected or enhanced 592,324 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 28,895 acres.
Below is a list of Idaho’s 2021 projects, shown by county.
- Conduct low intensity burns across 7,000 acres in the New Meadows Ranger District on the Payette National Forest to rejuvenate grasses, forbs and shrubs on elk, mule deer and other wildlife habitat. The project is part of a larger effort to treat upwards of 10,000 acres annually with prescribed fire to improve wildlife habitat and reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire.
- Provide funding to Bellevue Elementary School to help start an archery program for interested students.
- Provide funding for the Blaine County 4H Shooting Sports program in Hailey that allows youth to learn about archery both at the competition level as well as for hunting.
- Thin small trees and apply noxious weed treatment across 127 acres on the Sawtooth National Recreation Area within the Sawtooth National Forest to prevent insect and disease outbreak in a key elk migration corridor. This work serves as a demonstration project for forest restoration. RMEF volunteers also assist in piling thinned trees.
- Burn 1,420 acres in the Teton Basin Ranger District on the Caribou-Targhee National Forest to improve wildlife habitat and overall forest health. The project is part of an ongoing 6,900-acre watershed-scale project initiated in 2009 targeting conifer encroachment in aspen stands. Crews will also treat weed infestations (also benefits Teton County).
- Provide funding for the Boundary County 4-H Shooting Sports program. It offers rifle, pistol and archery instruction for participating youth.
- Burn 1,695 acres in the Montpelier Ranger District on the Caribou-Targhee National Forest to maintain and regenerate and aspen stands. Crews will also construct two sets of fencing to benefit aspen – one to keep out livestock and the other to keep out both livestock and wildlife.
- Rehab 1,000 acres in the Minidoka Ranger District on the Sawtooth National Forest charred by the 2020 Badger Wildfire by planting 40,000 sagebrush and bitterbrush seedlings on elk winter range. (RMEF’s Torstenson Family Endowment provided partial funding for this project.)
- Provide funding for the Burley Bobcats trap team for its 14 members to participate in a shotgun shooting competition at the Jerome and Twin Falls Gun Clubs.
- Remove and replace six miles of woven wire net fence with four-strand, wildlife-friendly fencing on the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Upper Snake Field Office lands. Overall, the multi-year project aims to remove 13.5 miles of old fencing (also benefits Clark County).
- Treat 630 acres of noxious weeds in portions of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, Gospel Hump Wilderness Area and part of the Salmon River designated as a Wild and Scenic River. The corridor provides one of the largest contiguous wintering areas for elk, mule deer and white-tailed deer in the West.
- Provide funding for members of Back Country Horsemen of North Central Idaho to spray herbicide on noxious weeds and invasive plants across 30 acres in the Lochsa and Moose Creek Rangers Districts on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests in the Selway and Lochsa River drainages.
- Provide volunteer manpower for a work project at the Joseph Plains Wildlife Habitat Area (WHA), a former RMEF land project. Crews repaired fencing to keep livestock out of the WHA and also treated the area for invasive weeds.
- Provide funding for the Potlatch Shooting Sports Club for youth ages 8 to 18 to learn about the safe, responsible use of firearms related to recreational shooting and hunter education (also benefits Clearwater County).
- Treat 1,515 acres in the North Ranger District on the Salmon-Challis National Forest with a combination of aerial herbicide and reseeding to reduce invasive weeds and restore elk habitat to its more natural state. Additionally, the treatment reduces the risk of severe wildfires associated with cheatgrass-dominated vegetation.
- Remove encroaching conifers across 3,031 acres on BLM Boise District Office lands. The multi-year BOSH project aims to treat up to 617,00 acres of sagebrush-steppe habitat that is vital for elk, sage-grouse, mule deer, pronghorn antelope and many other wildlife species. (RMEF’s Torstenson Family Endowment funded this project.)
- Provide volunteer manpower for a two-day project to remove old electric railroad wiring from steep, wooded terrain along the Route of the Hiawatha, a scenic bike trail straddling the Idaho-Montana border. Volunteers logged more than 600 hours cutting, removing and coiling approximately 1.25 miles of the multi-strand wire dating back to 1910.
- Treat 600 acres of elk winter range on the Cecil D. Andrus Wildlife Management Area (WMA) to control noxious weeds. The Woodhead Wildfire burned more than 96,000 acres in 2020 including more than 5,000 acres on the WMA.
- Provide funding for the Idaho Sportsmen’s Alliance (ISA), of which RMEF is a member, to protect and advance the outdoor heritage of hunting, fishing, trapping and shooting in Idaho. ISA reviews issues from the state legislature, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, and other agencies, and advises the Idaho Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus.
- Provide funding for the Idaho Chapter of the Wildlife Society’s annual meeting where Idaho wildlife professionals interact, present new research and projects, and learn from one another.
- Provide funding for 15 youth to represent Idaho at the 2021 National 4-H Shooting Sports Championship in Nebraska. Nearly 600 youth from more than 30 states competing in air pistol, air rifle, archery-compound, archery-recurve, hunting skills, muzzleloader, shotgun, smallbore pistol and smallbore rifle competitions.
- Provide funding for Scooter’s Youth Hunting Camp at the Emmett Rod and Gun Club, which hosts 250 kids from across Idaho ages 9 to 16 for a free, one-day outdoor experience staffed by volunteers. Participants rotate through stations to receive hands-on instructions in firearms, archery and other skills and activities.
- Provide funding for a veteran cow elk hunt on a private ranch in cooperation with VetCREW, an organization that offers support and opportunities for veterans and their families.
Project partners include the Caribou-Targhee, Idaho Panhandle, Nez Perce-Clearwater, Payette, Salmon-Challis and Sawtooth National Forests, Bureau of Land Management, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, and conservation, sportsmen, 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.