February 18, 2009
Support for Elk Foundation Initiatives is Bigger in Texas
Passion for Conservation Helps State Land RMEF 25th Annual Convention
MISSOULA, Mont.— Wild elk have never been prevalent in Texas but the species remains an inspiration for conservationists active in Texas chapters of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
Since 1984, Texans have raised over $7.3 million for Elk Foundation habitat projects, mainly in the West, while keeping another $215,000 for conservation and education initiatives at home. From Amarillo to Houston and Dallas to El Paso, the Lone Star State’s connections to RMEF run deep.
“Among states without major elk populations, Texas is far and away our most successful fundraising state. Actually, Texas performs at a higher level than most Rocky Mountain states,” said Steve Decker, director of field programs for RMEF. “And the big numbers aren’t just related to the size of the state. Clearly, Texans are passionate about conserving pristine western landscapes and they’re passionate about elk.”
Texas has been a major player in helping the Elk Foundation reach its recent milestone of 5.5 million acres enhanced or conserved for elk and other wildlife.
Within the state, RMEF is funding ongoing research on habitat preferences, movement patterns and demographics of elk in the Glass Mountains of west Texas. The herd is estimated at 150 animals. Smaller herds occur in the Guadalupes and three other nearby ranges, but none exceed 40 elk. Though officially classified as non-native species that can be hunted any time of year, research may lead to cooperative private-land management strategies to ensure the future of wild elk in the region.
A sample of other projects funded by the Elk Foundation in Texas:
Amarillo—Potter County Boy Scouts/4-H Shooting Sports Program, 2007-08.
Arlington—Lone Star Sportsmen’s Show Youth Camp, 2007.
Athens—Clements Scout Ranch Wildlife Management Program, 2003; Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center Nature Trail, 2003.
Aubrey—Ladies Rifle and Pistol Shooting Clinic, 2003-04.
Austin—Texas Youth Hunter Program, 1993, 2003-04; Sul Ross University Wildlife Seminar, 2004.
Beaumont—Beaumont Area Conservation Day, 2005.
College Station—Future of Hunting in Texas Workshop, 2000.
Dallas—Dallas Ecological Foundation Youth Program, 2003.
El Paso—Fort Bliss Expo and Youth Hunter Safety Promotions, 2004.
Fort Worth—Big Brothers Big Sisters Youth Hunts, 2005-06.
Giddings—Lee County Youth Hunter Safety, Ethics, Shooting and Firearm Training Program 2008; Giddings/LaGrange Youth Skeet Shoot, 2005,
Houston—Houston Safari Club Hunter Education Program, 2008.
Midland—Midland County 4-H Shooting Sports Program, 2008; Boy Scouts Buffalo Trail Shooting Sports Program, 2008.
Mountain Home—Troy Smith Ranch Hunts for Wounded Military, 2007-08.
San Antonio—Texas Outdoor Partners Sportsmen’s Caucus, 2008; Texas Wildlife Association Convention, 2006-08.
Texas’ commitment to conservation helped it become the site of the Elk Foundation’s silver anniversary convention.
The 25th Annual Elk Camp & Hunting, Fishing and Outdoor Expo runs March 5-8 at the Fort Worth Convention Center. The event includes the RMEF/Leupold 2009 World Elk Calling Championships, elk hunting seminars, displays of record elk, kids’ activities, auctions and an exhibit hall filled with art, gear, firearms and outfitted hunting and fishing opportunities.
Show hours: Thurs., March 5, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Fri., March 6, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; Sat., March 7, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; and Sun., March 8, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Daily admission is $12 per person or $25 per family, and free for kids 5 and under.