Look How Far We've Come: RMEF Completes 12,000 Conservation Projects
It’s official! As of 2019, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has completed 12,000 conservation projects in the 35-year lifetime of the Foundation. That’s an average of over 340 projects per year.
RMEF volunteers should truly be proud of reaching this landmark total. Not only do volunteers fund RMEF’s conservation work through their fundraising efforts, RMEF also has an incredible legacy of volunteers getting their boots dirty with on-the-ground work in conservation projects. Today’s volunteers carry on the work of their predecessors with the same fervor as a rut-crazed bull.
In 2018 alone, more than 1,200 volunteers from 125 chapters donated 17,000 hours to complete more than 155 conservation projects, including fence pulls, constructing or repairing wildlife water developments, noxious weed treatments, forest thinning, planting seedlings and more.
Just three years after the RMEF was born, volunteers were already reporting completed conservation projects. A black and white photograph of volunteers sporting RMEF caps in 1987, graces the pages of the summer 1988 edition of Bugle magazine.
The nine pictured RMEF Flagstaff Chapter volunteers spent 110 hours building pole fences around two new parking lots. This early project closed six miles of road to motorized vehicle access to provide wildlife security in the high elevation meadows in the Bismarck Lake area of Arizona’s Coconino National Forest.
Echoing the spirit of these Arizona volunteers 32 years ago, RMEF volunteers all over the country are still completing habitat enhancement projects today.
The 12,000th project took place in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and New Mexico Department of Game and Fish on BLM-managed land approximately 120 miles southwest of Albuquerque. Chainsaws bit into pinon and junipers encroaching into grasslands on New Mexico’s Pelona Mountain area, as hired crews worked to enhance wildlife habitat.
Dating back to 1994, RMEF worked with partners to carry out 15 different projects in the Pelona Mountain area alone, including thinning, prescribed burns and the construction and repair of wildlife water developments. Many of the water developments were spearheaded by volunteer crews. Albuquerque Chapter volunteers continue to work on water development projects in the area into 2019.
And more good news—the ranks of the volunteer conservation army are steadily growing. In 2013, there were 10,477 volunteers, and by 2018, RMEF volunteers numbered 12,223 men, women and children. Each volunteer averages approximately 80 hours of service each year for elk and elk country.
Reaching 12,000 conservation projects is just the newest signpost of many marking the long-standing and continued dedication of RMEF volunteers.
“This milestone is a credit to our volunteers, members, partners and all others who support our mission,” says Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “Without them we simply could not do what we do to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.”
Click here to see the video from RMEF’s 12,000th conservation project on the Pelona Mountain area!