MISSOULA, Mont. — Better groceries are on the way for Idaho’s elk population. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners allocated $2,103,338 in grant funding to improve wildlife habitat in Idaho.
“Once completed, these projects will enhance nearly 60,000 acres of elk habitat,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “That’s good news for elk, hunters and a myriad of other wildlife, bird and plant species.”
To highlight one of the 16 projects, crews in southcentral Idaho will plant 60,000 seedlings across 1,000 acres and spray cheatgrass on 1,500 acres in the Sawtooth National Forest, site of the 2020 Badger and 2012 Cave Canyon Wildfires. The project is part of RMEF’s $1 million wildfire restoration commitment.
Other conservation projects include aspen enhancement, watershed restoration, prescribed burns, invasive weed treatment, removing encroaching conifers and dilapidated fencing, and support for various hunting heritage activities.
RMEF directly granted $375,436 that leveraged $1,727,902 in partner dollars.
Idaho is home to 18 chapters and more than 8,500 members.
“From the Panhandle to Idaho’s southernmost reaches, we greatly appreciate our volunteers who plan and host successful banquets and other events that raise critical funding for our mission,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO.
Below is a county-by-county breakdown of Idaho’s 2022-funded projects.
- Provide funding for Scooter’s Youth Hunting Camp, a free experience for boys and girls ages nine to 16 to receive hands-on instruction in firearms, archery and other disciplines (also benefits Canyon, Elmore and Gem Counties).
- Conduct prescribed burning on 10,000 acres in ten different areas across the Payette National Forest to improve wildlife forage and habitat.
- Conduct prescribed burning on 4,000 acres of forestland across more than a dozen different areas in the Idaho Panhandle National Forests. The treatments will improve big game forage and stand conditions, and reduce fuels for potential high intensity wildfires (also benefits Boundary, Kootenai and Shoshone Counties).
- Replace old fencing with wildlife-friendly fencing on private land while also creating crossings so elk and other wildlife can move without entanglements and injuries along the Fish Creek to Arco migration route (also benefits Blaine County).
- Conduct prescribed burning on 4,752 acres in the Soda Springs District on the Caribou-Targhee National Forest to reduce conifer encroachment and restore aspen stands with follow-up weed treatment (also benefits Bonneville County).
- Remove conifers encroaching on 50 acres of aspen habitat as part of a wider effort to restore the Blackfoot River on the Blackfoot River Wildlife Management Area. Work to follow includes restoring the first six miles of the river and reconnecting it to its floodplain, stabilizing eroding riverbanks and restoring spawning tributaries.
- Purchase and plant 60,000 seedlings across 1,000 acres and spray cheatgrass on 1,500 acres in the Minidoka Ranger District on the Sawtooth National Forest. Work will take place on landscapes impacted by the 2020 Badger and 2012 Cave Canyon Wildfires. The project is part of RMEF’s $1 million wildfire restoration commitment.
- Remove encroaching juniper across 6,000 acres in the Minidoka Ranger District on the Sawtooth National Forest as part of a multi-year effort to restore elk, mule deer and sage grouse habitat in the Goose Creek area.
- Provide funding to support the Burley Bobcats Trap Team, a competitive youth clay target shooting team that participates in a safe and fun-filled atmosphere (also benefits Jerome, Minidoka and Twin Falls Counties).
- Treat invasive weeds and seed 40 acres of elk and mule deer winter range on land administered by the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Four Rivers Field Office impacted by the 2012 Stout Wildfire. The project falls within the Smoky-Bennett Complex big game migration and winter habitat priority area.
- Provide funding and RMEF volunteer manpower to help with Hunt for Hope, a nonprofit that offers educational and recreational opportunities for physically challenged, special needs and able-bodied youth. Volunteers set up camp, prepare meals and host a moose hunt for a young individual with brain cancer.
Nez Perce County
- Provide funding to support the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Lewis Clark Valley’s Ultimate Journey, a program that introduces youth ages nine to 13 to various aspects of environmental stewardship. Participants learn about birds, plants and flowers, land and wildlife conservation, and wildlife habitats.
- Remove conifers encroaching across 30,403 acres on land managed by the BLM Boise District. The continuing multi-year project improves habitat for elk, sage grouse, pronghorn antelope and other wildlife across a large landscape.
- Remove encroaching conifers from aspen stands and burn slash across more than 1,800 acres of state and private land near South Mountain. The area is known for producing trophy bull elk.
- Treat a newly discovered infestation of noxious yellow starthistle across 200 acres of land managed by the BLM Boise District to enhance year-round elk habitat. Yellow starthistle displaces native plants and then reduces forage and biodiversity.
- Provide funding to support Idaho 4-H Shooting Sports, a program that promotes the responsible use of firearms while building conservation and stewardship awareness through a variety of shooting disciplines. More than 1,400 youth statewide take part.
Project partners include the Caribou-Targhee, Idaho Panhandle, Nez Perce-Clearwater, Payette and Sawtooth National Forests, Bureau of Land Management, Idaho Department of Fish and Wildlife as well as various conservation and business organizations.
Since 1985, RMEF and its partners completed 656 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Idaho with a combined value of more than $81.5 million. These projects conserved and enhanced 610,428 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 28,895 acres.
About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Founded more than 38 years ago and fueled by hunters, RMEF maintains more than 225,000 members and has conserved nearly 8.4 million acres for elk and other wildlife. RMEF also works to open and improve public access, fund and advocate for science-based resource management, and ensure the future of America’s hunting heritage. Discover why “Hunting Is Conservation™” at rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.