25 March 2019
This article will take 13 minutes to read
“In a civilized and cultivated country wild animals only continue to exist at all when preserved by sportsmen. the excellent people who protest against all hunting, and consider sportsmen as enemies of wild life, are ignorant of the fact that in reality the genuine sportsman is by all odds the most important factor in keeping the larger and more valuable wild creatures from total extermination.”
– Theodore Roosevelt - President of the United States (#26)
In this I promise to never spam you or sell your email address. The only reason the address is collected is to notify you of winning. Once the contest is over the data collected on all users will be deleted.latest blog post regarding conservation I’d like to talk to you about the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, their history, what they do and how they do it.
The mission of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is to ensure the future of elk other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.
In support of their mission, the RMEF is committed to:
In 1984, four hunters from Northwest Montana recognized a handful of organizations doing great work for species like ducks, turkeys and upland birds. They also recognized there was no group dedicated to North America’s grandest big game animal, elk. In May of that year, they pooled their time, talent and resources and created the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, an organization dedicated to elk, elk hunting and the habitat they need to thrive.
They set up shop in the back room of a trailer house in Troy, the four; a pastor,a realtor, a logger and a drive-in owner, created an organization that would directly benefit elk and other wildlife by putting money to work on the ground. The team drained their bank accounts and borrowed funds to mail out 43,000 brochures soliciting members, promising a subscription to a magazine about elk and elk hunting, as well as an annual international convention.
They received a dismal 233 responses. But they believed they’d made a commitment to these people. So they borrowed additional funds and printed 32,000 copies of the premier issue of Bugle magazine, which they mailed out and time, hard work and patience, but by the end of 1984, membership had grown to almost 2,500.
In April 1985, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation held their first convention in Spokane, Washington. They also funded their first habitat project that year, a grant to help fund a prescribed burn in a place fittingly named Elk Creek on the Kootenai National Forest near Libby, Montana. In 1988, they facilitated their first land acquisition, the 16,440-acre Robb Creek property in Montana, and received their first ringing endorsement from the corporate community. At their annual convention that year, Ray Goff, former RMEF board member and Vice President of Anheuser-Busch, announced a $500,000 gift from the company. That gift helped kick off their incredible growth and conservation achievements.
By 1988, the RMEF staff had grown to 12, and their offices were spread across a vacant dentist’s office, a mini mall and an abandoned grocery store. They now had 32,000 members, 2,000 passionate volunteers and 70 chapters, and they had protected and enhanced more than 110,000 acres of elk country. Bursting at the seams, it was time to say goodbye to the RMEF’s birthplace and move to Missoula, Montana.
Since then, they’ve grown to more than 227,000 members whose support has protected and enhanced more than 7.3 million acres of North American wildlife habitat. Hundreds of thousands of these acres were completely off-limits to the public. They are now open for all to hunt, fish and otherwise enjoy. They employ more than 120 people and boast more than 11,000 volunteers working through more than 500 chapters across the United States.
From the most humble beginnings in 1984, the RMEF has risen to become one of the most effective and efficient conservation organizations in the United States. Today, working together with members, volunteers, and partners as Team Elk, the RMEF is striving to conserve the next million acres of elk country, and to be a strong voice for hunters, access, and wildlife management and conservation issues.
The RMEF permanently protects crucial elk winter and summer ranges, migration corridors, calving grounds and other vital areas, while focusing on securing and improving hunter access throughout elk country. Their land conservation tools include: acquisitions, access agreements and easements, conservation easements, land and real estate donations, land exchanges and associated acres.
Healthy habitat is essential for healthy elk and other wildlife. The RMEF helps fund and conduct a variety of projects to improve essential forage, water, cover and space components of wildlife habitat, and supports research and management efforts to help maintain productive elk herds and habitat.
The RMEF works to reestablish elk herds in historic ranges where the habitat and human cultural tolerance create a high potential for self-sustaining herds.
Since 1984, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has permanently protected more than 1,700 square miles of prime habitat for elk and other wildlife across the country.
The RMEF uses advanced habitat mapping technology (GIS) to identify and prioritize the most crucial elk winter and summer ranges, migration corridors and calving areas. They then work with their partners, including willing landowners, government agencies, corporations, foundations and other conservation groups to permanently protect the most critical habitat and target areas for public access. Their land conservation tools include: land acquisitions, conservation easements, access agreements and easements, land and real estate donations, contributions, land exchanges and associated acres.
Their goals are to permanently protect the most critical elk habitat and to increase public access opportunities.
The RMEF purchases key elk habitat to protect wildlife values. In most cases, they do not retain ownership. Most often, they convey it to a federal or state management agency (state wildlife department, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, etc.). The agency then acts as a steward of the land, protecting and enhancing wildlife habitat, while providing the public increased recreational opportunities, including hunting and fishing.
A conservation easement protects wildlife habitat on private property. It is a voluntary legal agreement with a landowner to protect their land in perpetuity from development and other uses that could diminish its wildlife habitat values but still allows for many traditional uses of the land. The land remains in private ownership and in many instances the landowner may qualify for tax benefits. Although it is not required, the RMEF encourages landowners to allow public access.
Donating land for conservation purposes is one of the finest legacies a person can leave to future generations. The RMEF may accept donations of land or real estate from private individuals or corporations. Depending on the type of real estate, they may retain ownership, convey the property to a private citizen (after protecting it with a conservation easement), state, or federal agency, or, if the property lacks significant habitat values, sell the donated property and use the proceeds to protect land with important wildlife values.
The RMEF may provide funding to state or federal agencies or another nonprofit organization to assist them with their wildlife habitat protection or public access efforts. Their contributions often generate additional habitat dollars from matching grant programs.
The RMEF may assist a government agency or a private landowner in exchanging lands. These exchanges typically take place when an agency has wildlife habitat lands it wants to acquire. Many exchanges will result in an increase of lands that are open for the public to enjoy.
When the RMEF protects land, those benefits often extend to associated, leased grazing lands connected to the acquisition. This often results in additional benefits to wildlife through improved grazing systems and livestock redistribution.
Providing high quality habitat (food, water, cover and space) is key to ensuring the future of elk and other wildlife. Research and management projects help manage elk in ways that guarantee productive herds and provide hunter opportunity.
The RMEF’s Habitat Stewardship Program is comprised of three elements: habitat enhancement, wildlife management and research. Financial support for the program comes from RMEF volunteers who raise funds through local chapter events for project grants. The RMEF then works with biologists and land managers to fund projects that will provide wildlife the best bang for the buck.
The RMEF helps ensure that North America’s elk will remain abundant and healthy
Fire suppression, invasive weeds, conifer encroachment and drought all degrade elk habitat. Some, like drought, are just nature’s way. Others, like fire suppression and weeds, are a direct result of human actions. Using tools such as prescribed burning, thinning, fertilization, seeding, water developments, noxious weed treatments and fencing, they are reversing the effects of these impacts on elk country. Many of their projects enhance habitat on public and private lands where elk already exist; some are designed to encourage elk to move onto public lands and away from ranchers’ crops and haystacks.
Providing grants for studies and tools such as new elk census techniques, and telemetry studies to determine habitat use and migration routes, are other ways that the RMEF helps wildlife managers enhance and maintain wild, free-ranging elk populations.
The RMEF understands that the future of our wild elk herds depends on good science. Funding projects that research critical factors such as nutritional needs of elk, predation and disease provides biologists with sound, scientific data for effective wildlife and habitat management.
There is perhaps no higher calling for a conservation organization than to restore extirpated wildlife species back to their historic ranges.
With that in mind, in 1990 the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation began funding feasibility studies to determine if wild, free-ranging elk still had a place in some of their former eastern habitats. Partnering with state wildlife agencies and universities, they asked three important questions:
Once a feasibility study is completed and a restoration project is approved by the state wildlife agency and affected landowners, the RMEF and its volunteers help trap and transfer wild elk from a source herd to their ancestral grounds. All elk trapped are tested for seven diseases, including brucellosis and bluetongue, before leaving the trap site. Healthy source herds have been used in Arizona, Kansas, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah and Alberta’s Elk Island National Park.
Once elk reach their new destination, it’s up to the participating wildlife agency to decide whether they are held in acclimation pens for a few months or released directly into the wild. Regardless, after they hit the ground the elk are monitored for three to five years to study such things as movement patterns and calf survival to ensure proper management of the herd and their habitat.
RMEF helped launch successful elk restorations in Wisconsin in 1995, Kentucky in 1997, Tennessee in 2000, Ontario in 1998, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2001, Missouri in 2011, Virginia in 2012 and West Virginia in 2016. In addition, RMEF has funded completed feasibility studies in Illinois, Maryland, New York and West Virginia. The state agencies use the study data to determine whether or not to restore elk to their respective state.
Today, wild, free-ranging elk are making tracks in places where they haven’t for more than a century. Local economies benefit from visitors who travel from all over to catch a glimpse of the wily wapiti. In 2001, Kentucky held its first elk hunt in 150 years, and Pennsylvania its first hunt in more than 70 years. In 2009, Tennessee also held its first elk hunt in 150 years. As Eastern elk herds continue to prosper, the RMEF, its volunteers and partners will be there to welcome calves born beneath the hardwoods, and hear bulls’ bugles echoing across mountains and through hollows.
To Learn More about the Successful Elk Restorations please visit:
I’m giving away 3 annual supporting membership to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. This is for one year and you will have to renew if you chose to do so.
Membership includes the following benefits:
To enter all you need to do is enter your email address.
This giveaway will run from Monday March 25th, 2019 and expires on Monday April 8th, 2019.
Nine (9) winners will be selected at random on Tuesday April 9th, 2019 and a followup blog post in regards to the winners will go live no later than Wednesday April 10th, 2019.
I promise to never spam you or sell your email address. The only reason the address is collected is to notify you of winning. Once the contest is over the data collected on all users will be deleted.
Just fill out the form located here. It’s as simple as that.