THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK FOUNDATION
As part of its ongoing commitment to ensure the future of elk and other wildlife by helping rehabilitate landscapes impacted by wildfire, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners allocated $3,351,126 for more than two dozen projects across Oregon.
“Unfortunately, high-severity wildfires over the last several years damaged soil and native seed banks in large swaths of Oregon elk habitat. And that opens the door for invasive weeds to crowd out native vegetation,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “Among other things, this funding goes toward 13 on the ground habitat conservation projects to restore and enhance elk habitat.”
RMEF supplied $324,894 in grant dollars that leveraged $3,026,232 from its partners.
Additional projects across more than 20 counties include scientific research to assist elk management and populations, support of mentored hunting events and funding for youth archery and recreational shooting clubs.
“Our volunteers in Oregon have a long and robust history of raising funding that benefits their state,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “To them we say, ‘Thank you.’”
Below is a list of Oregon’s 2022 projects.
Supply funding for a free youth pheasant hunt on the E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area. The event is a great opportunity for both hunters on their first-ever hunt as well as more experienced hunters.
Provide funding for research to better understand the relationship between the cow elk body condition, forage availability and calf survival and recruitment. Findings will assist the management of Roosevelt elk throughout the Central Oregon Coast (also benefits Douglas County).
Provide volunteer manpower to replace old fencing with wildlife-friendly fencing within the Coos County Forest.
Thin 992 acres of forest and restore 628 acres of meadows in the Paulina Ranger District on the Ochoco National Forest. The work is part of a 17,497-acre landscape-scale project to improve forage for elk, mule deer and other wildlife.
Provide research funding to install traffic counters to quantify human recreational usage within the Ochoco Wildlife Management Unit as well as deploy GPS elk collars to help define herd movement patterns. The combined tools will help managers better understand elk distribution trends and guide future management (also benefits Jefferson and Wheeler Counties).
Provide funding for research to better understand and map elk winter range and migration corridors on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management Deschutes Field Office. The findings will identify nearby habitat conservation and enhancement needs, and are part of a statewide effort to identify winter range habitat, movement barriers or pinch points, and areas with restoration opportunities (also benefits Jefferson County).
Supply funding for the Mountain View High School Clay Target Club. Formed in 2018, it’s the second-largest in Oregon with more than 50 members who learn about firearm safety and responsibility while improving their skills and confidence.
Provide Torstensen Family Endowment (TFE) funding to seed 300 acres in the Prairie City Ranger District on the Malheur National Forest. High intensity wildfires in 2019 and 2021 damaged the soil, leaving room for invasive weed expansion (also benefits Harney County).
Restore 125 acres of riparian aspen and meadows by removing conifers and other hardwood species along streams in the Prairie City Ranger District on the Malheur National Forest. The project improves elk calving and summer habitat.
Thin encroaching conifers across 261 acres within five meadows in the High Cascades Ranger District on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest to promote and improve forage.
Supply funding for the Cascade Christian High School trap team. Participants learn safe and responsible use of firearms, sportsmanship, natural resource stewardship and develop skills while taking part in competitions (also benefits Josephine County).
Provide TFE funding for several habitat improvement projects on the Ochoco National Forest including rebuilding wildlife water guzzlers and riparian exclosures destroyed by wildfires between 2017 and 2021. Additional treatments across 4,500 acres include seeding and invasive weed work to enhance winter range for elk and other wildlife.
Mow and/or hand-weed 246 acres of meadow habitat to abate invasive weed encroachment in the Central Coast Ranger District on the Siuslaw National Forest. The treatment improves habitat for Roosevelt elk and other wildlife species (also benefits Lincoln County).
Provide funding to purchase more than 250 high-decibel, emergency whistles for hunter education students as a survival tool when recreating outdoors (also benefits Benton and Lane Counties).
Provide funding to enhance six meadows totaling 60 acres as part of a volunteer project in the Detroit Ranger District on the Willamette National Forest. Crews will also cut back decadent browse on another 12 acres.
Supply funding for the Pilot Rock High School trap team that participates in the Scholastic Clay Target Program. Open to all students in grades six through 12, it helps shooters hone trapshooting skills and compete in a safe and fun environment.
Provide volunteer manpower to help construct a fence exclosure to protect a half-acre aspen stand. The project site is within the 2015 Grizzly Bear Wildfire Complex that burned more than 80,000 acres resulting in nearly a complete loss of mature aspen trees.
Treat 250 acres to control invasive weeds that cause significant ecological damage on both private lands and the La Grande Ranger District on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. The invasive grasses threaten critical big game habitat and supply little forage value for wildlife and livestock.
Thin 1,000 acres on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest within the Starkey Management Unit to create a more resilient landscape, increase forage quantity and quality on year-round elk habitat, and reduce big-game damage on private land. So far, the project thinned nearly 7,000 acres and, with additional funding, proposes to treat up to an additional 9,000 acres over the next eight years.
Treat 3,500 acres of private land in prime elk country for invasive plant species that negatively impact elk habitat.
Supply volunteer manpower for a project on the Minam River acquisition property. Crews restore the historic Minam River Trail by removing woven-wire fencing and general clean-up activities.
Provide funding for the Aloha High School clay target team. A participant in the U.S. High School Clay Target League, the squad makes shooting sports accessible to Aloha students and those in other schools that do not have a team (also benefits Multnomah County).
Supply funding for the Oregon 4-H Shooting Sports Program, which provides youth in all 36 Oregon counties the opportunity to learn safe and responsible use of firearms and archery equipment, develop skills, take part in competition and receive education about hunting ethics and conservation.
Provide funding for Cross the Divide, an Oregon-based nonprofit organization, to host guided elk hunts and an introduction-to-hunting family event for deserving veterans and their families.
Supply funding for High Timber Dreams, a veteran-operated nonprofit that provides veterans, active duty, first responders and youth with hunting and other outdoor opportunities that support skill-building and mental well-being.
Provide funding and volunteer manpower for the Outdoor Dream Foundation to host an elk hunt for a youth fighting terminal illness. RMEF provides transportation, meals and lodging as well as arranging processing of the meat and a taxidermist to create a mount.
Since 1986, RMEF and its partners completed 1,054 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Oregon with a combined value of more than $83.5 million. These projects conserved and enhanced 867,355 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 140,102 acres.
Project partners include the Malheur, Ochoco, Rogue River-Siskiyou, Suislaw, Umatilla and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests, Bureau of Land Management, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, hunters, private landowners, Oregon State University and conservation, sportsmen, business and other groups and organizations.