Tag Archives: ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK FOUNDATION

$100,000 RMEF Grant Awarded For WSU Elk Hoof Disease Research Facility

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK FOUNDATION

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation awarded a $100,000 grant to Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine to assist with construction of its elk hoof disease research facility. Construction began in May on campus in Pullman, Washington.

CONSTRUCTION OF A FACILITY FOR RESEARCHERS LOOKING INTO ELK HOOF DISEASE BEGAN THIS PAST MAY AT WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY IN PULLMAN AND FUNDING IN PART CAME FROM A $100,000 GRANT FROM THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK FOUNDATION. (HENRY MORE JR., WSU/BCU, VIA RMEF)

“Hoof disease is affecting more and more elk in the Pacific Northwest,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “This facility will give researchers a hands-on opportunity to better determine its cause as well as why and how it spreads.”

The $1.2 million, state-of-the-art structure is the only such operation of its kind in the world and will house captive elk needed to study the disease in a secure, controlled environment. It will cover four acres and include 10 isolation pens, a handling facility and two 1.5-acre holding pastures.

Based within the Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology, and with the oversight of WSU’s Environmental Health and Safety and animal care programs, the facility will provide optimal compliance with biosecurity and animal care and use regulation.

“I am eager to get started with research on captive elk that will be housed in the facility,” said veterinarian Margaret Wild, the lead scientist for the program. “RMEF’s generous contribution could not have come at a better time during construction. This is the first grant we’ve received to supplement our funding and it makes it apparent the organization and its members, along with WSU, are dedicated to ensuring elk herds remain healthy and viable for future generations.”

Elk hoof disease is known in the scientific community as Treponeme-associated hoof disease or TAHD. Biologists confirmed the disease in elk herds across much of southwest Washington as well as southern Oregon and western Idaho.

Findings from research conducted at the facility will assist wildlife agencies to better manage the impacts of hoof disease in elk populations.

“We had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Margaret Wild, lead scientist during a visit to RMEF headquarters. We look forward to working with her and her staff to learn more about this disease,” added Henning.

RMEF provided funding in the past to assist the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife with hoof disease testing and research.

In 2019 alone, RMEF so far donated more than $1 million in research funding for the benefit of elk-related science.

Joint WDFW-RMEF-Forterra Project Secures 7 Sq. Miles In Cowiche For Critters, Rec

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Working closely with Forterra and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF), the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) recently finalized the purchase of 4,486 acres of land near Yakima in the foothills of the eastern Cascades. WDFW will manage the new property as an addition to the Cowiche Unit of the Oak Creek Wildlife Area.

A WDFW FISH AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION PRESENTATION EARLIER THIS YEAR INCLUDED IMAGES AND MAPS OF THE ACQUISITION. (WDFW)

The site serves as key habitat and a migration corridor for an astonishing array of species, including mule deer, elk, Neotropical birds, raptors, bats, and more than 70 butterfly species. The expanded Cowiche Unit will also conserve more than seven miles of Cowiche Creek, an important spawning and rearing habitat for bull trout, coho, and chinook salmon.

Recreational opportunities are abundant on the new property, and include hunting, fishing, hiking, wildlife viewing, and bird watching. The low-elevation and close proximity to Yakima make it an ideal destination for local outdoor recreationists and visitors.

A WDFW FISH AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION PRESENTATION EARLIER THIS YEAR INCLUDED IMAGES AND MAPS OF THE ACQUISITION. (WDFW)

“This property is an important link to surrounding state, federal, and private conservation lands,” said Mike Livingston, WDFW’s south central regional director. “With the help of our partners RMEF and Forterra, we’re able to permanently protect the area where up to 2,000 Rocky Mountain elk migrate between their summer and winter ranges, and where elk calves are born each year.”

RMEF took the lead on negotiations with the landowner, the Van Wyk family, starting in the early 2000s and solidified a path forward in 2017.

“This is the latest example of RMEF’s work with partners to protect a key elk migration route where butterflies are also known to migrate. The project is built on RMEF and WDFW’s history of securing quality public access in the East Slope of the Cascades,” says Jennifer Doherty, RMEF’s director of lands. “While this project was an important step toward protecting this landscape for wildlife and recreationists, we need to recognize and thank Van Wyk family members for their vision to protect this land.”

A WDFW FISH AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION PRESENTATION EARLIER THIS YEAR INCLUDED IMAGES AND MAPS OF THE ACQUISITION. (WDFW)

Forterra, a nonprofit land conservation organization, stepped up to meet the cost obligations necessary to make the final transaction happen. In addition, for the first time on WDFW-managed lands, Forterra will hold a stewardship easement on the property, which allows the organization to work closely with WDFW to conduct restoration and maintenance work. To help pay for this stewardship and cover transaction costs, Forterra needs to raise $300,000, and has launched a fundraising effort to that end.

“The Van Wyk property is more than a stunning stretch of stream, steppe, and forest,” said Michelle Connor, President and CEO of Forterra. “It’s a puzzle piece that connects all of the protected land surrounding it. In the face of climate change, species like the elk and butterfly found here will rely more and more on un-fragmented ecosystems like this one. We’re thrilled to help secure this special place, and we look forward to working with the state to protect it for generations to come.”

WDFW used funds from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service habitat grant and a Pacific Power mitigation agreement to make their portion of the purchase.

“PacifiCorp’s commitment to enhancing wildlife habitat in areas we serve is a keystone of our overall dedication to environmental stewardship,” said Brian King, PacifiCorp environmental manager. “It is great to work with partners such as Forterra, WDFW, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to help conserve habitat in the essential Cowiche corridor. The funding provided is part of a mitigation agreement connected with PacifiCorp’s major transmission project in the area. We are balancing economic development, improving service reliability, and conserving wildlife habitat through this innovative agreement.”

WDFW actively manages approximately 1 million acres of land and over 600 water access sites across the state to preserve natural and cultural heritage, provide access for hunting, fishing, and wildlife-related recreation, and to foster experiences and exploration for thousands of Washingtonians and visitors each year.

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RMEF Celebrates 35th Year Of Elk, Wildlife Conservation Work

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK FOUNDATION

Thirty-five years after its founding on May 14, 1984, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) is celebrating decades of conservation success.

A BRONZE BULL BUGLES OUTSIDE THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK FOUNDATION’S MISSOULA HEADQUARTERS. (RMEF)

“Quite simply, the growth and accomplishments of this organization are staggering,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “It began with four elk hunters in northwest Montana who struggled as they opened shop in a doublewide trailer, but did so with determination and a vision to ensure the future of elk and elk country. And here we are 35 years later with 235,000 members and a mission that continues to gain more and more momentum for the benefit of elk, other wildlife, conservation and hunting.”

To date, RMEF and its partners completed nearly 12,000 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects with a combined value of more than $1.1 billion. Those projects protected or enhanced more than 7.4 million acres of wildlife habitat and opened or improved access to more than 1.2 million acres.

RMEF facts:

  • Protected or enhanced nearly one square mile of habitat every day since its founding in 1984
  • 7.4 million acres protected/enhanced = roughly three and one half times the size of Yellowstone National Park
  • 1.2 million acres opened/improved public access = roughly two and one half times the size of Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Assisted with successful restoration of elk in Kentucky (estimated 2019 population of 11,000+), Missouri (150), North Carolina (150), Tennessee (500), Virginia (200), West Virginia (120), Wisconsin (280) and Ontario, Canada (650-1,000)
  • Ten consecutive years of record membership growth
  • 12,000 volunteers across 500+ chapters
  • Advocated for public access to public lands, reauthorization of Land and Water Conservation Fund, wolf & grizzly delisting, forest management reform, other conservation issues

“We cannot thank all of our volunteers, members, sponsors, donors and partners enough for the past 35 years of conservation success,” said Weaver. “We honor that incredible legacy by pledging to do more to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage in the years to come.”

RMEF Details $355,000 In Oregon Elk Habitat, Research Grants

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK FOUNDATION

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation provided $355,128 in grants to fund nearly two dozen habitat enhancement and elk research projects in Oregon.

(RMEF)

The projects benefit 10,317 acres of wildlife habitat across Coos, Crook, Curry, Douglas, Grant, Harney, Klamath, Lake, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Morrow, Tillamook, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa and Yamhill Counties. One of the projects benefits much of eastern Oregon.

“There is a great need to gain a better understanding of the productivity of elk populations as well as movement, behavior, private versus public habitat usage and other issues that affect elk in Oregon. That, in part, is why we provided grant funding for five detailed research projects,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “The funding also goes toward prescribed burning, forest thinning, meadow restoration, noxious weed treatment and other work that enhances habitat for elk and other wildlife.”

RMEF has 27 chapters and more than 17,000 members in Oregon.

“Elk and elk country in Oregon have our volunteers to thank for generating this funding by hosting banquets, membership drives and other events. We so appreciate their time and talents as well as their dedication to our conservation mission,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO.

Below is a sampling of Oregon’s 2019 projects, listed by county:

Coos County

  • Plant native grasses and forbs within coastal forest openings across 93 acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land to improve forage for wildlife (also benefits Douglas and Curry Counties).

Crook County

  • Seed 455 acres of meadow, sagebrush and aspen habitat on the Ochoco National Forest. Crews will also burn slash piles created during 2018 thinning operations. The project area is utilized year-round by elk and also benefits mule deer, antelope, wild turkey, California and mountain quail, Hungarian partridge and other species.
  • Enhance about 1,345 acres of wildlife habitat on the northern edge of the Ochoco National Forest. Treatments include meadow restoration, aspen enhancement and protection, improving big game security through installing effective barriers on closed roads and reconnection of the floodplain through stream restoration and riparian improvements.

Douglas County

  • Provide funding for lab analysis of forage clippings taken in spring and fall as part of a study examining multiple native seed mixes to determine the best mix for elk forage based on consumption and nutritional content. Provide funding for six GPS collars to be placed on bull elk as part of a study to define elk ranges in western Oregon including habitat use and movements, survival rates and mortality causes. The findings will assist with improved overall elk management (also benefits Coos, Linn and Lane Counties).
  • Provide funding for a study to determine whether sampling and extracting DNA from fecal pellets is a reliable way to estimate elk populations. Currently, biologists conduct counts via helicopter surveys but they lack effectiveness due to heavy, dense forests (also benefits Coos, Linn and Lane Counties).

Grant County

  • Complete seeding of 100 acres that were heavily encroached by junipers and previously treated via cutting, piling and pile burning as part of a continuing effort to improve elk and deer range in the Sage Brush Basin. Treat 400 acres of winter range for elk. mule deer and antelope on the Phillip W. Schneider Wildlife Management Area through chemical control of invasive annual grasses followed by drill seeding with a desirable perennial grass mix.
  • Restore aspen stands by removing encroaching conifers covering 155 acres along streams and meadows on the Malheur National Forest. This marks the first phase of a project encompassing 17,500 acres 14 miles south of John Day.

Harney County

  • Provide funding for a holistic approach to increase the quality of elk habitat across 3,280 acres on the Malheur National Forest and BLM land. Crews will refurbish five water guzzlers, improve elk security, distribute native grass and mountain shrub seed and apply noxious weed treatment.
  • Remove juniper from 288 acres of BLM land to improve the health and vigor of aspen stands and riparian areas used by elk, mule deer and greater sage grouse in the Little Bridge Creek drainage.

Klamath County

  • Provide funding to assist with the construction of a wildlife crossing under a new bridge along U.S. 97 at milepost 180. Specifically, RMEF funds will go toward the installation of 10 miles of fencing to help funnel elk and deer to the undercrossing.

Lake County

  • Treat 891 acres of elk summer range in the North Warner Mountains on the Fremont-Winema National Forest. This is the fourth year of a seven-year effort to restore aspen on a landscape-scale while also improving wildlife habitat and creating both natural firebreaks and local jobs.

Lane County

  • Use mechanical mowing, chain saws and other means to improve 180 acres of meadow habitat on the Siuslaw National Forest. Annual maintenance prevents the incursion of invasive vegetation and benefits elk, black-tailed deer and other bird and animal life (also benefits Lincoln and Douglas Counties).
  • Prescribed burn 100 acres to trigger the growth of native vegetation and improve overall forest health on the Willamette National Forest. The treatment is part of the multi-year Jim’s Creek Restoration Project to return the area to its historic state of scattered Douglas fir, ponderosa pine and Oregon white oak stands with a dense bunchgrass understory.
  • Apply a variety of treatments to benefit wildlife habitat across 161 acres in the McKenzie River Ranger District on the Willamette National Forest. Specific approaches include noxious weed treatment, prescribed burning, mulching, planting seed and wetland enhancement.

Linn County

  • Apply a combination of forest thinning, prescribed fire, seeding and other treatments to restore meadow and wetland habitat at three sites in the Western Cascade Mountains on the Willamette National Forest (also benefits Lane County).
  • Apply a combination of treatments to enhance and restore six mountain meadows over 157 acres where non-native species and encroaching conifers are affecting habitat in the Sweet Home Ranger District on the Willamette National Forest.

Marion County

  • Restore and maintain a 38-acre large mountain meadow on BLM land northeast of Gates that is a migration corridor and provides summer forage.

Tillamook County

  • Maintain and restore 135 acres of meadows in the Hebo Ranger District on the Siuslaw National Forest. Crews will institute a combination of noxious weed, forest thinning and planting treatments to expand existing meadows by removing competing vegetation (also benefits Lincoln and Yamhill Counties).

Umatilla County

  • Provide funding for research to provide biologists a better understanding why elk are shifting their range from public to private lands in the Blue Mountains. Crews will capture and place GPS collars on 50 cow elk so biologists can monitor their migration and use of summer and winter range while also aiming to reduce private land damage and increase hunting opportunity (also benefits Morrow County).
  • Treat 555 acres on the Bridge Creek Wildlife Management Area to control invasive weeds and stimulate the growth of desirable grasses and forbs.

Union County

  • Thin 600 acres of young, overstocked conifer stands on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest followed by slash treatment and pile and burning. Improving habitat will increase the quality of forage on yearlong elk habitat and reduce elk damage on nearby private land.
  • Treat 2,000 acres across the Grande Ronde and Catherine Creek watersheds on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest in the Blue Mountains to remove noxious weeds that degrade the quality and quantity of elk forage.

Wallowa County

  • Prescribe burn 500 acres on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest to remove decadent grasses and shrubs as well as stimulate regrowth in open grasslands and the understory of ponderosa pine and Douglas fir stands. The project is part of a10-year effort to burn more than 5,000 acres within the Chesnimnus Wildlife Management Unit to improve elk distribution and draw them away from private property where damage complaints are common.

Eastern Oregon

  • Provide funding for research to gain a better understanding why elk populations are declining across wide areas of the northwestern United States. Researchers will apply a time series approach across three different landscapes to analyze population responses to several disturbance agents such as forestry, fire and grazing.

Northeast Oregon Rangeland Researcher Named To RMEF Board

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK FOUNDATION

Kent Johnson and Dr. Martin Vavra are the newest members of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Board of Directors.

DR. MARTIN VAVRA. (PACIFIC NORTHWEST RESEARCH STATION, USFS)

“Marty and Kent bring a wide diversity of knowledge and life experience that will be of tremendous benefit to the board and our shared conservation mission,” said Nancy Holland, RMEF president and CEO.

The primary role of board members is to serve as key policymakers in assisting RMEF to maximize its charge to protect and enhance elk habitat, restore elk to native ranges, and educate others about wildlife, habitat conservation and our hunting heritage. They are elected annually by fellow board members and may serve two, three-year terms

New RMEF board member bios:

Kent Johnson

  • Big Lake, Minnesota
  • Senior Vice President, Director-Minnesota Office, PMA Financial Network, Inc.
  • Provide investment and consulting services to governmental entities
  • Certified independent public finance advisor
  • RMEF life, Trails Society & sponsor member, Habitat Council chair (2016-present) & Minnesota volunteer state chair (six years)
  • Kent and wife Cyndie have three children & two grandchildren

“I am humbled and honored to be able to serve the volunteers and members of our Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation family. RMEF continues to reach new heights and it is exciting to be involved with that success. As we grow, new challenges arise. I hope to bring my skills as a RMEF volunteer as well as my professional expertise to help lead RMEF into the future. We have an opportunity and responsibility to ‘Pass it on’ to the next generation. RMEF stands by its reputation as a leader in wildlife conservation. It started from volunteers and we are proud that we have remained true to our heritage,” said Johnson.

Dr. Martin Vavra

  • Summerville, Oregon
  • Emeritus rangeland scientist, USDA, U.S. Forest Service
  • Emeritus professor of Rangeland Science, Oregon State University
  • Range scientist and team leader, Starkey Project
  • Published wildlife researcher & national/international presenter
  • RMEF life member

“It is an honor and a privilege to be elected to the Board of Directors of RMEF. I hope to use my career skills in range and wildlife research to assist in utilization of science in the conservation management decision-making process in regard to issues pertinent to RMEF. As a hunter and long-time hunter education instructor I would like to further the issues of fair chase, hunter ethics and safe use of firearms. An organizational goal is to ensure continuing grass roots membership involvement in banquets, rendezvous gatherings and Elk Camp. Other areas of interest include providing continuing education opportunities for the membership in both hunting and outdoor skills, as well as in emerging conservation issues,” said Vavra.

John Caid, Jerry Pionessa, Terry Sweet and Joe Treadway recently concluded service on the RMEF Board of Directors.

Big Game Habitat, Hunting Get Boost With Secretarial Order

Western big game got a boost today with the signing of an order to improve habitat, migration corridors and winter range.

Expanding hunting opportunities are also included under Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s decree that benefits mule deer, elk and pronghorn antelope in Idaho, Oregon, Washington and elsewhere.

A HERD OF MULE DEER MOVE ACROSS WINTER RANGE. (DOI)

The order aims to use “best available science” and improve collaboration between the many landowners where our herds roam.

“American hunters are the backbone of big game conservation efforts, and now working with state and private landowners, the Department will leverage its land management and scientific expertise to both study the migration habits of wildlife as well as identify ways to improve the habitat,” said Zinke in a press release. “For example, this can be done by working with ranchers to modify their fences, working with states to collaborate on sage brush restoration, or working with scientists to better understand migration routes.”

He signed Secretarial Order 3362 at the Western Conservation and Hunting Expo in Salt Lake, and it was praised by major hunting organizations.

“The goal of this effort lies at the heart of our conservation mission, ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. In order to do that we must maintain a focus on winter range and migration corridors for elk and other wildlife,” said Blake Henning, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation chief conservation officer, in the press release. “We support stronger collaboration between landowners, agencies, conservation groups like RMEF and all others seeking to enhance habitat for the benefit of our wildlife populations.”

The Mule Deer Foundation similarly praised the order.

Backcountry Hunters and Anglers’ Land Tawney was encouraged and said he was interested to see how it would play out.

“We commend the secretary’s decision but likewise urge him to apply the same rigorous approach to other resource management challenges, such as our Western sagebrush steppe, home to hundreds of species of wildlife and offering access to top-notch hunting and fishing,” the president of the Missoula-based organization said in a press release. “These unique public lands and waters deserve no less. Theodore Roosevelt would no doubt agree.”

As nice as it is to see habitat and hunting prioritized, Zinke’s recommendation to reduce the size of two national monuments in Utah and pro-mining and drilling stances on federal lands have left some unsettled. Energy develoment in Wyoming was seen as a risk to the 150-mile migration of one Wyoming mule deer herd. Today’s decree was termed “bureaucratic window dressing” by a left-leaning think tank.

Zinke was the subject of an informative interview and article by former Outdoor Life editor Andrew McKean last month.

He has also recently called for moving land managers to the West from DC and reorganizing regions around watersheds instead of political lines.

Conservation News: RMEF Interim Director Named; DU Celebrates World Wetland Day

THE FOLLOWING ARE PRESS RELEASES FROM DUCKS UNLIMITED AND THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK FOUNDATION

Ducks Unlimited recognizes World Wetlands Day

Cities across the world will be celebrating World Wetlands Day (WWD) on Feb. 2, and Ducks Unlimited (DU) is adding its voice to raise awareness of this important day. Since 1937, DU has conserved more than 14 million acres of wetlands and associated habitats across North America. On average, DU and its many partners help conserve more than 250,000 acres per year.

(DUCKS UNLIMITED)

WWD marks the signing of the Convention on Wetlands on Feb. 2, 1971, in Ramsar, Iran. Each year since 1997, government agencies, non-governmental organizations and groups of citizens at all levels of the community have taken advantage of the opportunity to raise public awareness of wetland values and benefits and the Ramsar Convention.

“Ducks Unlimited focuses on conserving wetlands to maintain healthy waterfowl populations, but the state of our wetlands affects everyone in many ways,” said Ducks Unlimited Chief Conservation Officer Nick Wiley.

DU’s conservation projects provide habitat for more than 900 species of wildlife. People also benefit from healthy wetlands and grasslands, which provide flood absorption, community resilience, clean water, recreational opportunities and fisheries resources. And while people across the globe rely on wetlands to help provide clean water, in the last 50 years the United States alone has lost more than 17 million acres of wetlands.

“World Wetlands Day is a great opportunity to raise awareness of the threats wetlands face and how they are important. Every day, however, is wetlands day at Ducks Unlimited, and without the support of great, conservation-minded partners our work would certainly be limited,” Wiley said.

Economists estimate that one acre of wetlands can provide up to $200,000 worth of benefits to people. Nearly 44 percent of America’s population regularly depends on groundwater for its drinking water supply, not to mention the health benefits of wetlands. Wetlands in or near urban areas are the focus of this year’s WWD theme. Parks, ponds and near-urban wildlife refuges provide important opportunities for people to spend time outdoors in a healthy, natural setting.

For more information about World Wetlands Day, visit www.worldwetlandsday.org.

Nancy Holland to Serve as RMEF Interim CEO

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation announced that the Board of Directors has asked Nancy Holland to serve as president and CEO on an interim basis.

“To join the team at this time is very exciting. RMEF has a special place in my heart,” said Holland. “Stepping into this new role, forefront in my thoughts and actions are our members, donors, sponsors and fellow staff members and the conservation mission they have entrusted us to carry forward.”

Holland is taking a leave from the RMEF Board of Directors, where she served since 2016, while the search continues for a long-term replacement. She and husband Howard are staunch supporters and life members who also served together as co-chairs of RMEF’s Habitat Council.

“Throughout my time with RMEF I have been blessed to meet and befriend wonderful, passionate people. It is these people, individuals, families and corporations that are the essence of RMEF. We come together in our passion for the future of elk and other wild life, wild places and our tradition of hunting. It’s what makes RMEF great.”

A graduate of St. Louis University, Holland has 35 years’ experience in investment and finance including managing a team of global investment professionals working on behalf of their international clients. Since 2009, she served as managing partner of Sapphire Point Partners LLC, which specializes in business consulting and real estate investment.

“RMEF has a strong financial footing, solid membership growth and an environment that supports our mission. We have a 5-year plan that we have been executing. We are solidly on our way to accomplishing those goals and surpassing them,” added Holland. “At the end of the day, it’s all about delivering mission. It’s why we are all here.”

Group Effort Solves Public Access Dispute In Prime Oregon Elk Country

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK FOUNDATION

The public will continue to have access to 43,000 acres of central Oregon’s prime elk country thanks to a group effort including the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Bureau of Land Management, Crook County, Oregon Hunters Association (OHA) and the Waibel Ranches, LLC.

A BLM IMAGE SHOWS THE NEWLY CONSTRUCTED ROAD. (BLM)

“We are pleased that all parties could come together to provide continued access to a part of Oregon revered by elk hunters and others,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “Opening or improving access to our public lands lies at the core of our conservation mission. We hear time and time again from our members how important it is that we carry out this public access work.”

At issue was what was thought to be a public road through private land south of Prineville in the Crooked River drainage that provided access to the southern end of Ochoco National Forest. RMEF provided title work and research that showed continuous public use of the road since the late 1800s.

Waibel Ranches, LLC facilitated the construction of the new road at their own expense and at their own initiative. They did so in order to provide access to the same public lands as a means to reduce the liability, trespass, poaching and littering associated with public travel along the old Teaters Road.

A CLOSED GATE NOW BLOCKS OFF THE OLD TEATERS ROAD. (BLM)

“It’s great to have a partner like RMEF to help find solutions to public land access issues,” said Dennis Teitzel, Prineville BLM district manager.

“This project provides access for hunters and all others that could have been lost without the cooperation and efforts of several organizations. The landowners should be thanked for their willingness to work to solve a problem for the benefit for all,” said Richard Nelson, OHA Bend Chapter past president. “It shows what can be accomplished when all work on a solution instead of locking in to an adversary position.”

Since 1986, RMEF and its partners completed 875 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Oregon with a combined value of more than $57.4 million. These projects protected or enhanced 793,317 acres of habitat and opened or secured public access to 90,073 acres.

Elk, Habitat, Hunters In 16 Washington Counties Benefit From $233K In RMEF Grants

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK FOUNDATION

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation awarded $233,373 in grant funding for nearly two dozen conservation projects in Washington that enhance wildlife habitat, assist research and promote hunting heritage.

FUNDS FROM THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK FOUNDATION WILL HELP TREAT 300 ACRES OF THE OAK CREEK WILDLIFE AREA WITH FIRE. (RMEF)

The grants benefit 4,966 acres across Asotin, Clallam, Chelan, Columbia, Cowlitz, Douglas, Ferry, Garfield, Grant, King, Pierce, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Skamania, Snohomish and Yakima Counties. There are also two projects of statewide benefit.

“Forest management techniques like thinning, prescribed burning and noxious weed treatments improve habitat in Washington for elk and many other species,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “This grant funding will help with those efforts and supply research dollars to benefit elk management.”

Since 1985, RMEF and its partners completed 621 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Washington with a combined value of more than $121.5 million. These projects conserved and enhanced 471,547 acres of habitat and opened or secured public access to 125,245 acres.

Here is a sampling of the 2017 projects, listed by county:

Asotin County—Apply noxious weed treatment across 700 acres on the W. T. Wooten and Chief Joseph Wildlife Areas within the Blue Mountains Wildlife Area Complex to keep weeds in check on year-long elk range (also benefits Garfield and Columbia Counties).

Clallam County—Thin 203 acres of elk summer range in the Upper Sitkum Watershed on the Olympic National Forest where overly dense forests led to documented low body condition scores for elk as well as downward trends in pregnancy rates.

King County—Provide funding to acquire one new GPS collar and refurbish four others for a study to determine if elk are using new habitat areas created by the Snoqualmie Valley Elk Management Group as well as determine a better herd population estimate and seed 50 acres of a newly cleared area in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains.

Yakima County—Apply prescribed fire to 300 acres on the Oak Creek Wildlife Area as part of a larger, wide-scale effort to benefit wildlife by rejuvenating native grasses, forbs and shrubs as well as mitigating wildfire hazards.

Go here for a complete project listing.

Washington project partners include the Colville, Gifford Pinchot and Olympic National Forests, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and private landowners as well as sportsmen, government, civic and other organizations.

Zinke To BLM, USFWS, NPS: Figure Out How To Increase Fishing, Hunting Access

Federal land managers are being directed to figure out how to provide more fishing and hunting access under a directive signed by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke today, a move lauded by sportsmen’s groups.

It follows on troubling news earlier this week that participation in hunting dropped by 2.2 million between 2011 and 2016, but could help open more lands, so key to the opportunities we enjoy.

MANAGERS OF NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGES, BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT GROUND AND THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE ARE BEING ASKED HOW TO INCREASE HUNTING AND FISHING ACCESS UNDER AN ORDER FROM DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR SECRETARY RYAN ZINKE. THAT PROCESS HAS BEEN ONGOING AT PLACES LIKE TURNBULL NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, WHERE SPECIAL HUNTS FOR AN INCREASING ELK HERD HAVE BEEN HELD, BUT ZINKE’S ORDER COULD OPEN EVEN MORE OPPORTUNITY. (TURNBULL NWR)

“The more people we can get outdoors, the better things will be for our public lands,” said Zinke in a press release. “As someone who grew up hunting and fishing on our public lands – packing bologna sandwiches and heading out at 4 a.m. with my dad – I know how important it is to expand access to public lands for future generations. Some of my best memories are hunting deer or reeling in rainbow trout back home in Montana, and I think every American should be able to have that experience.”

His order calls for:

  • The Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service to come up with plans within four months for expanding access to hunting and fishing on their lands;
  • Amend management plans for national monuments to specifically ensure hunting and fishing on them;
  • Identify federal lands where those activities are limited;
  • Expand outreach to underserved communities;
  • Develop a “one-stop” website outlining sporting opportunities on all Department of Interior lands;
  • And improve wildlife management collaboration with states, tribes, conservation groups and others.

Ducks Unlimited was supportive, particularly the part of Zinke’s order calling for “significantly” increasing waterfowl populations through habitat projects, as well as more hunting opportunities.

“Wetlands are not only a valuable resource for our nation’s waterfowl, but they also benefit more than 900 other species of wildlife,” noted Dale Hall, DU CEO, in a press release. “Investments in the conservation of wildlife habitats, like wetlands, are vital in preserving, protecting and advancing our nation’s long hunting and angling heritage. At the end of the day, it’s all about ensuring that all Americans and those generations to come, have access to the wildlife and wild places that we enjoy today.”

In recent years, USFWS has gradually been increasing waterfowl, big game and fishing opportunities on Northwest refuges and those across the country.

Land Tawney of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers said his organization looked forward to working with Zinke and Interior.

“Our hunting and fishing traditions rely on both conservation and access, with insufficient access being the No. 1 reason cited by sportsmen for forgoing time afield,” Tawney said in a press release. “The importance of Secretary Zinke’s commitment to sustaining and expanding public access opportunities to the outdoors, therefore, cannot be overstated.”

Others supporting the move included the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation as well as National Rifle Association.

“For too long, sportsmen’s access to our federal lands has been restricted, with lost opportunity replacing the ability to enjoy many of our best outdoor spaces. This extension to Secretarial Order 3356 will go a long way to reversing that trend and help grow the next generation of hunters, fishermen, and recreational shooters,” added Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, in a press release. “I appreciate this new order and am committed to working with Secretary Zinke and my colleagues to do everything we can to expand and enhance access to our federal lands for all Alaskans, and all Americans, so that we can continue our rich sportsmen’s heritage.”