Wyoming Habitat & Research Projects Earn Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Grants
MISSOULA, Mont. –-(Ammoland.com)- Conserving and enhancing wildlife habitat, plus research on the combined impacts of wolves and drought on elk populations, headline a list of Wyoming projects slated to receive 2011 grants from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
The new RMEF funding totals $344,078 and affects 16 counties: Albany, Big Horn, Carbon, Converse, Fremont, Johnson, Lincoln, Natrona, Park, Platte, Sheridan, Sublette, Sweetwater, Teton, Washakie and Weston counties.
Several projects have statewide interest and one extends beyond Wyoming borders and across the northwestern U.S.
“We're especially pleased to support several large conservation easements in Wyoming this year, including several that secure hunting access on both private and public lands,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “The habitat projects that we're funding this year could add well over 60,000 acres to the 954,612 acres that we've previously helped to conserve or enhance for wildlife in Wyoming.”
Nationally, RMEF hopes to impact about 100,000 acres in 2011 to reach the 6 million-acre lifetime mark in lands conserved or enhanced for elk and other wildlife.
Allen thanked RMEF volunteers and fundraiser attendees for building the organization's grant coffers in Wyoming, saying, “Because of their amazing passion and generous support, a major conservation milestone is within reach.”
RMEF grants will help fund the following 2011 projects, listed by county:
- Albany County–Improve habitat for elk, mule deer, pronghorn antelope and bighorn sheep by prescribe burning and/or masticating 2,907 acres in the Iron Mountain area (also affects Platte and Laramie counties).
- Big Horn County--Prescribe burn 500 acres of juniper and sagebrush, and chemically treat 200 acres of cheatgrass, as part of an ongoing project to improve elk habitat in the Devil's Canyon area of BLM lands; remove encroaching conifer to enhance a 25-acre aspen stand in the Brokenback drainage of the Bighorn Mountains.
- Carbon County–Improve forage quality for elk and other wildlife by prescribe burning up to 5,000 acres in the Ferris Mountains area of BLM lands; prescribe burn up to 9,000 acres of public and private rangelands needed to support a regional elk herd in the Seminoe Mountains area; install wildlife friendly fencing and livestock watering troughs to enhance riparian areas important to elk in the Dry Cow Reservoir area of BLM lands; mow 400 acres of sagebrush, remove juniper from 100 acres, treat 100 acres of noxious weeds and install fencing to improve livestock grazing rotation and enhance habitat to support a regional elk herd in the Platte Valley; thin conifer encroachment to enhance 400 acres of habitat in the Sierra Madre/Little Snake River area of BLM lands.
- Fremont County–Replace 17.8 miles of woven wire with wildlife friendly fencing, develop water sources and other enhancements to control livestock in elk habitat in the Red Canyon Ranch area of the Shoshone National Forest; install pipeline to improve irrigation efficiency for habitat management at Red Canyon Wildlife Management Area.
- Lincoln County–Continue ongoing project to treat noxious weeds, using herbicides and bio-controls (insects) to improve 405 acres of habitat for elk in the Greys River area of Bridger-Teton National Forest; treat noxious weeds along 28 miles of backcountry trails in Bridger-Teton National Forest, assist Wyoming Game and Fish Department in acquiring a conservation easement to protect wildlife habitat on 2,200 acres and secure access to large tracts of public lands near Fontenelle Creek.
- Natrona County--Assist partners in purchasing a conservation easement to permanently protect 19,000 acres of private land and secure hunting access on 20,000 acres of public land (also affects Fremont County).
- Park County–Mechanically treat or prescribe burn 70 acres of juniper, Douglas fir and sagebrush to improve forage for elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep, sage grouse and other species in the Breteche Creek area of BLM lands; continue ongoing research project to study effects of wolf predation on elk nutrition, fat gain and pregnancy rates in the Absaroka area; conduct aerial surveys of elk calf recruitment between migratory and non-migratory elk herds in the Cody area.
- Sheridan County–As part of an ongoing project to improve habitat for elk, deer and pronghorn antelope on state lands on the east slope of the Bighorn Mountains, prescribe burn 200 acres in the Amsden Creek, Bud Love, Ed O. Taylor or Kerns wildlife habitat management areas (also affects Johnson County).
- Statewide–Provide support for a research project to evaluate influence of drought and predation on elk survival across the northwestern U.S.; provide support for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department annual expo, Sept. 8-10, 2011, to build public understanding of conservation; provide support for the Wyoming 4-H Shooting Sports Program, with emphasis on volunteer training in Converse County, to introduce youths and families to outdoor recreation; sponsor Wyoming Game and Fish Department “Access Yes” program to secure access for hunters and anglers on private lands; provide support for purchasing training tools for Wyoming Game and Fish Department hunter education activities.
- Sublette County–Continue Wyoming Front Aspen Restoration project to improve wildlife habitat on public and timber company lands; assist Wyoming Game and Fish Department in purchasing a conservation easement to ensure the future of wildlife habitat on 10,000 acres near Big Piney; evaluate the influence of supplemental feeding on elk migration timing, foraging and habitat selection.
- Sweetwater County–Build 8.25 miles of wildlife friendly fencing to manage livestock grazing in riparian and other areas of concern for elk, deer and Colorado River cutthroat in the Currant Creek area of BLM lands.
- Teton County–Cut and skid conifers to improve forest health, reduce fuels and increase aspen cover in elk range near Dry Quad area of Bridger-Teton National Forest; prescribe burn 2,201 acres to enhance forest health in the Hill Creek area of Caribou-Targhee National Forest; prescribe burn 100 acres of lodgepole pine and Douglas fir to improve aspen, grass and shrub habitat in the Buffalo Valley area of Bridger-Teton National Forest; provide support for an RMEF-award winning public education campaign regarding elk winter ranges and public closures (also affects Lincoln County).
- Washakie County–Prescribe burn 300 acres to improve winter range that supports a regional elk herd on the west slope of the Bighorn Mountains.
- Weston County–Assist Wyoming Game and Fish in purchasing a conservation easement to protect 3,036 acres of habitat for elk, turkeys, deer, mountain lions, raptors and songbirds in the Black Hills area.
Projects are selected for grants using science-based criteria and a committee of RMEF volunteers and staff along with representatives from partnering agencies and universities.
Partners for 2011 projects in Wyoming include the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Park Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, University of Wyoming, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Wyoming Game and Fish Commission, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Wyoming Governor's Big Game License Coalition, Wyoming Stock Growers Agricultural Land Trust, Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust, other agencies, tribes, organizations, corporations and landowners.
Since 1985, RMEF and its partners have completed 454 different conservation and education projects in Wyoming with a combined value of more than $87.7 million.
About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Snowy peaks, dark timber basins and grassy meadows. RMEF is leading an elk country initiative that has conserved or enhanced habitat on over 5.9 million acres–a land area equivalent to a swath three miles wide and stretching along the entire Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico. RMEF also works to open, secure and improve public access for hunting, fishing and other recreation. Get involved at www.rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.