Department of Interior Announces Recovery and Delisting of Yellowstone Grizzly Population


From The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—The U.S. Department of Interior announced the recovery of the Yellowstone grizzly bear population as well as its intent to remove federal protections and return management to state agencies.

“The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation supports the delisting of grizzly bears,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “It’s been a long time coming and we think this is the appropriate move by Secretary Zinke and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.”

The Yellowstone population rebounded from as few as 136 bears in 1975 to an estimated 700 today. Confirmed sightings of grizzlies are taking place in locations where they have not previously been seen for more than 100 years as they extend their range in the Northern Rockies.

“This achievement stands as one of America’s great conservation successes; the culmination of decades of hard work and dedication on the part of the state, tribal, federal and private partners,” said U.S, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “As a Montanan, I’m proud of what we’ve achieved together.”

The Yellowstone grizzly population meets all delisting criteria. These factors include not only the number and distribution of bears throughout the ecosystem, but also the quantity and quality of the habitat available and the states’ commitments to manage the population from now on in a manner that maintains its healthy and secure status.

“We do caution everybody to manage their expectations about the potential of hunting grizzly bears. The reality is there will be very minimal hunting of grizzly bears for the next several years. Those who oppose the delisting are going to try and use ‘trophy hunting’ as a major obstacle and reason not to delist grizzly bears. It’s purely rhetoric and propaganda,” added Allen.

The final rule, and the supporting documents, will publish in coming days in the Federal Register and the rule will take effect 30 days after publication.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Founded over 30 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of more than 220,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 7.1 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 www.rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK. Take action: join and/or donate.

Renowned Conservationist, RMEF Promote Relevance of Hunting

From The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—In an effort to promote a wider public conversation about the positive connections between hunting and wildlife conservation, the Rocky Mountain ElkFoundation partnered with widely-respected conservationist and wildlife researcher Shane Mahoney to release a timely and evocative short film titled Relevance.

The video, which discusses the modern relevance of hunting traditions, especially in terms of conservation benefits, is the first product generated as part of a new and ongoing collaboration between RMEF and Mahoney. “Shane is one of the world’s leading voices for conservation,” said Steve Decker, RMEF’s vice president of Marketing. “His message about hunting’s role in society showcases the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, certainly one of the most successful systems of wildlife recovery and management the world has ever seen. Shane’s message resonates not only among sportsmen and women, but also with those who do not hunt or fish but who share in the concern for wildlife’s future.”

The film’s narrative is borrowed from Mahoney’s keynote address, delivered at RMEF’s 2017 National Convention earlier this year in Nashville.

Mahoney, a long-time RMEF member, is the president and CEO of Conservation Visions, a global wildlife initiative focused on international conservation issues.

“Hunting is sometimes incorrectly viewed as a self-indulgent and wasteful anachronism in modern society,” says Mahoney. “However, we know, from an objective perspective, that sustainable use of wildlife can be an effective tool in support of conservation and human livelihoods; it is connected to the conservation of wild lands and waters, the environment and our own food security.”

In 2015, Mahoney launched the Wild Harvest Initiative, a multi-year research and communication effort supported by RMEF and a diverse partnership of individuals, business interests, conservation NGOs and government agencies. The project’s mission is to provide a first-ever evaluation of the biomass and economic value of wild food harvested by recreational hunters and anglers in Canada and the United States and to assess the wider community of consumers who share in this harvest. By conjoining these insights with existing economic assessments of recreational hunting and angling, and by evaluating the costs and mechanisms that might be considered necessary to replace this wild food harvest, the Wild Harvest Initiative will help focus a wider question facing conservation policy institutions in both countries; namely, if hunting and angling were to cease tomorrow, what would be the consequences?

RMEF and Mahoney will work together on future projects as part of RMEF’s ongoing #HuntingIsConservation campaign, which has reached more than 30 million people since its launch in January 2016.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation: Founded over 30 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of more than 220,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 7.1 million acres for elk and other wildlife. RMEF also works to open and improve public access, fund and advocate for sciencebased resource management, and ensure the future of America’s hunting heritage. Discover why “Hunting Is Conservation™” at http://www.rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK. Take action: join and/or donate.

Elk Habitat Conserved in Washington’s Lewis River Watershed

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

From The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—Nearly 4,500 acres of prime wildlife habitat in southwestern Washington are permanently protected and opened to public access thanks to ongoing collaborative efforts by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and PacifiCorp, an electric utility company.
“This is a tremendous accomplishment,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “This forestland is crucial habitat for Roosevelt elk. It’s now forever protected and conserved in a region where designation of the Mount St. Helens National Monument restricts management options.”

“Conserving and managing this habitat on the southwest slopes of Mount St. Helens, where elk are threatened by forage loss from forest succession and habitat loss to development is a just part of PacifiCorp’s ongoing commitment to environmental stewardship,” said Todd Olson, the company’s compliance director. “We highly value the partnership with the RMEF and the other parties that makes this possible.”

The just-completed 1,880-acre acquisition is the third phase of a project that previously protected an additional 2,590 acres of habitat in the upper Lewis River basin north of Swift Reservoir.

The combined 4,470-acre property was originally in a checkerboard ownership pattern. It is now blocked up and provides connectivity with state and federal lands to the north and is part of a 15,000-acre landscape managed as wildlife habitat by PacifiCorp. This management is conducted with input from RMEF, the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and resource agencies.

“Federal forests near Mount St. Helens are overgrown and contributed to the decline of what was once one of Washington’s most productive elk herds. This project greatly improves forest management which is a huge benefit for elk and other wildlife,” added Henning.

The landscape provides vital elk migratory corridors and is home to blacktail deer, black bear, mountain lions and a wide array of bird and other animal life.

With few exceptions to provide public safety, PacifiCorp wildlife lands are open to nonmotorized public access including hunting and other recreation.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation: Founded over 30 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of more than 220,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 7.1 million acres for elk and other wildlife. RMEF also works to open and improve public access, fund and advocate for sciencebased resource management, and ensure the future of America’s hunting heritage. Discover why “Hunting Is Conservation™” at http://www.rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK. Take action: join and/or donate.

About PacifiCorp PacifiCorp provides electric service to 1.8 million customers in six western states. Operating as Pacific Power in Oregon, Washington and California, and as Rocky Mountain Power in Utah, Wyoming and Idaho, our goal is to provide our customers with value for their energy dollar through safe, reliable electricity

Wildlife Habitat Protected, Access Improved in Nevada

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation worked with a conservation-minded landowner, the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) and the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to protect 4,500 acres of key wildlife habitat in northeast Nevada via a voluntary conservation easement agreement. The project also improves access to nearly 19,000 acres of adjacent public land.

“We appreciate Bryan Masini and his partner owners of the Wildhorse Ranch in recognizing the importance of protecting and conserving the wildlife values of their land,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer.

Located approximately 70 miles north of Elko, the property lies within the Owyhee River watershed just east of the Independence Mountain Range.

As part of the transaction, the NDOW holds an access agreement that allows public access for hunting and other recreational activities to the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and Bureau of Land Management lands which border the ranch.

“We are grateful for all the partners in this effort and find great hope in innovative approaches such as this conservation easement,” said Tony Wasley, NDOW director. “This is a great solution that protects private land, while also maintaining the land’s benefits for the wildlife species that depend on it.”

“This specific area is year-round habitat and crucial summer range for up to 100 elk. It’s also a key area for mule deer and antelope, crucial habitat for Greater sage-grouse and it features riparian habitat for fish and other species,” added Henning.

Current range conditions consist of enough forage for cattle and wildlife and a plan has been implemented to ensure that best management practices maintain quality habitat going forward.

“This project is a great example of the private and public partnership efforts that exist to protect critical habitats and preserve agricultural working lands for future generations,” stated Ray Dotson, NRCS state conservationist.

The Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Agricultural Conservation Easement Program and the Nevada Department of Wildlife provided funding for the project.

 

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

Founded over 30 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of more than 220,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 7.1 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 www.rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK. Take action: join and/or donate.

 

Small Utah Project Has Big Public Access Dividends

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

From the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—Sportsmen and women now have permanent access to 3,800 acres of National Forest land in central Utah thanks to a collaborative effort between the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Manti-La Sal National Forest, Back Country Horsemen of Utah and Emery County.

“This project shows how working together can bring about improved public access that benefits hunters, hikers, horseback riders and so many other people who enjoy our national forests,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer.

“The American public benefits greatly by acquiring this property which allows access to some of the best country for hunting and horseback riding on the Manti-La Sal National Forest” said Darren Olsen, district ranger for the Manti-La Sal National Forest.

The project site is located approximately 20 miles west of Huntington and secures permanent public access from a parking area on Highway 31 to the popular Candland trailhead.

RMEF recently conveyed the 10-acre parcel of land to the Manti-LaSal National Forest which now oversees management responsibilities. Back Country Horsemen of Utah (BCH), San Rafael Chapter, originally acquired grant funding and coordinated trailhead construction. Emery County donated thousands of dollars in equipment use, labor and materials.

“The Candland Mountain trailhead more than triples the parking for users of the Candland Mountain trail system,” said Rod Player of San Rafael BCH. “It would not be possible were it not for the generous donations from Emery County and RMEF. RMEF has ensured the existence of the trailhead for future generations.”

“Emery County appreciates the opportunity to partner in this project which will benefit residents of the county as well as visitors to our area,” said Ray Petersen, Emery County public lands administrator. “The Emery County Road Department displayed its typical professionalism in constructing this parking area. We are very proud of the work they do. As is often the case, it takes a willingness to collaborate by many partners to accomplish beneficial results on our public lands.”

The area accessed by the trailhead is primarily elk spring through fall habitat, including calving areas, and is used by more than 1,000 elk. It is also home to mule deer, black bears, mountain lions and a host of bird and animal life.

RMEF’s Torstenson Family Endowment (TFE) provided funding for the project. TFE funding is used solely to further RMEF’s core mission programs of permanent land protection, habitat stewardship, elk restoration and hunting heritage.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

Founded over 30 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of more than 220,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 7.1 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 www.rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK. Take action: join and/or donate.

Wildlife Habitat, Hunters Win Thanks to RMEF Project

From the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—A wildlife management area in west-central Montana is now 33 percent larger thanks to collaborative conservation work by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation,  Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP), Montana Fish & Wildlife Conservation Trust, Lewis and Clark County Open Space Program and the Cinnabar Foundation.

The project permanently protects and opens access to 720 acres of wildlife habitat while also improving access to more than 5,000 acres of nearby public lands.

“This transaction spawns a myriad of benefits,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “Prime wildlife and riparian habitat is protected in perpetuity which benefits many different species, public access is created and greatly improved, and the threat of private residential development is gone forever.”

RMEF purchased the two tracts from Stimson Lumber and immediately conveyed them at no cost to FWP which added the acreage to expand the Canyon Creek Wildlife Management Area.

“We are very grateful to the RMEF for brokering this deal and Montana Fish & Wildlife Conservation Trust, Lewis and Clark County Open Space Program and the Cinnabar Foundation for their funding support,” said Ken McDonald, FWP Wildlife Division administrator “This is a great addition to the Canyon Creek Wildlife Management Area that protects some key wildlife habitat and that Montana citizens will be able to forever enjoy.”

The property is an important wildlife corridor and provides key habitat for elk, moose, whitetail deer, grizzly and black bear, mountain lion, Canada lynx and wolverine as well raptors, upland game birds and other species. It is also home to Specimen, Canyon and Weino Creeks which make up more than two miles of riparian habitat –key to brown, eastern brook, rainbow and westslope cutthroat trout– that fall within the Missouri River Watershed.

The public can also access the Continental Divide Trailhead via the property across adjacent National Forest land.

The Montana Fish &Wildlife Conservation Trust, Lewis and Clark County Open Lands Program, Cinnabar Foundation and RMEF’s Torstenson Family Endowment provided funding for the project.

 

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

Founded over 30 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of nearly 220,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 6.9 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 www.rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK. Take action: join and/or donate.

 

Wyoming Project Secures Access to 47,000 Acres of Public Land

From the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—Hunters, anglers, hikers and those who enjoy other forms of outdoor recreation will benefit from a recent Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation project in Wyoming.

RMEF worked with a private landowner, Linda Zager, and several other partners to permanently protect and open access to 160 acres of prime elk and riparian habitat in southwest Wyoming.

“This small piece of property provides important habitat for elk and other wildlife but since we conveyed it to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), it is also now open to the public and improves additional access to approximately 47,000 acres of surrounding public land,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer.

The tract is nestled in the Wyoming Range at the confluence of Miller and La Barge Creeks which feature vital spawning and rearing habitat for the Colorado River cutthroat trout. In addition, it provides winter range for elk and is a key migration route for elk, moose, mule deer and other wildlife.

RMEF also worked with the BLM and a local contractor to repair what was an impassible road through the property.

The project links the Lake Mountain Wilderness Study Area, Miller Mountain Management Area, additional BLM lands and the Bridger-Teton National Forest while also providing public access and parking.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund’s Sportsmen Recreational Access and RMEF provided funding for this project.

 

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

Founded over 30 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of nearly 220,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 6.9 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 www.rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK. Take action: join and/or donate.