Clearing the Trail for Elk in Colorado
By Bill Jancouskas, Castle Rock Chapter
In July, I joined chapters from around Colorado who gathered for a weekend of hard work, good food and camaraderie to help ensure elk and other wildlife are not injured as they migrate across the Routt National Forest.
The Yampa Ranger District received an RMEF PAC grant to roll up and remove more than 2 miles of old, unused barbed-wire fencing, sheep fencing and associated steel T posts. The project allows forest visitors to travel for miles through the woods without encountering a fence. More importantly, it removes the real hazard: deer and elk, especially calves, can get entangled in barbwire and die slowly or break their legs trying to get free.
More than 40 RMEF volunteers of all ages pitched in on the effort. Yampa District range management specialist Josh Voorhis and volunteers from the Forest Service also joined us, making this a great partnership working for wildlife.
After everyone arrived Friday night, the Colorado State Leadership Team, led by regional director Lance Schul, held a workshop around the campfire. Committee members from Castle Rock, Denver, Grand Junction and Colorado Springs shared what works well and what doesn’t for their banquets.
We got to work right after breakfast on Saturday morning. Volunteers divided into teams, with one set pulling posts while the other rolled wire. We gathered and piled the old fence material for collection and recycling by the Forest Service. The insects were vicious, but the blooming columbines and the spirit of our great Colorado volunteers made it worth it. At the end of the day, the Leadership Team served up a great meal.
If you want to sink your teeth into something besides rounding up donations and working banquets, roll up your sleeves and do what you can to enhance habitat. Remember, the Elk Foundation is only as strong as its people, and volunteers in particular can make a great difference for wildlife around the country.