April 30, 2009
Missoula Events to Mark Elk Foundation’s Silver Anniversary
MISSOULA, Mont.—In celebration of its 25th anniversary, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will host a free, public open house with tours, refreshments and activities at its international headquarters on Saturday, May 16.
The event is slated for noon to 4:00 p.m. at the RMEF visitor center, 5705 Grant Creek Rd. in Missoula.
“Since we opened our doors on May 14, 1984, our conservation work has impacted nearly a square mile of elk habitat every single day,” said David Allen, president and CEO of the Elk Foundation. “A lot of people don’t fully realize the scope or extent of the conservation impacts of this Montana-born outfit—but it’s an incredible story.”
A logger, realtor, pastor and drive-in owner, all from Montana, launched RMEF because they worried about habitat loss and its effects on elk hunting. For startup money, they borrowed from their mothers, sponged from their kids’ college funds, took out second mortgages and loans against businesses, and dipped into personal accounts. It was enough to print and mail 43,000 brochures soliciting members and promising results.
“Only 233 people responded. But the founders were determined to honor their commitment to those first joiners, and the rest is history,” said Allen.
Although its first office was in the back of a trailer in Troy, Mont., today the Elk Foundation has a modern headquarters in Missoula, Mont. With 150,000 members worldwide and 10,000 volunteers hosting over 550 fundraisers annually, plus corporate partners, individual donors and other revenue streams, the organization has now funded more than 6,100 conservation projects impacting over 5.5 million acres.
Another major feather is the Elk Foundation’s help restoring elk to long-vacant parts of their historic range, such as in Kentucky, Tennessee and Wisconsin.
Following the public open house on May 16, an evening celebration with dinner, speakers, auctions and entertainment is slated for the Hilton Garden Inn in Missoula. Guests of honor will include two RMEF founders: Bob Munson, now of Lynnwood, Wash., and Charlie Decker of Libby, Mont. Tickets are available at 406-523-4511.