MISSOULA, Mont. — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners awarded $291,406 in grant funding to improve wildlife habitat, bolster scientific research and assist hunting heritage projects in New Mexico. RMEF contributed $59,000 and leveraged an additional $232,406 in partner dollars.
The 11 projects benefit Catron, Lincoln, McKinley, Sandoval, San Juan, San Miguel, Santa Fe, Sierra and Socorro Counties as well as New Mexico and parts of Arizona.
“One of the biggest challenges for elk and other wildlife in this arid part of the country is the availability of life-sustaining water. This funding combined with RMEF volunteer efforts will help build or repair three wildlife water guzzlers,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “In addition to habitat work, it also helps researchers learn more about predators and the impact they have on elk recruitment in New Mexico.”
There are 12 RMEF chapters and approximately 5,400 members in New Mexico.
“We greatly appreciate our volunteers who do so much to generate this funding we put back on the ground,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “Not only do they host banquets and membership drives but many of them give of their time and energy to help build these wildlife water resources.”
Since 1987, RMEF and its partners completed 447 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in New Mexico with a combined value of more than $46.1 million. These projects protected or enhanced 539,350 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 110,483 acres.
Below is a list of New Mexico’s 2021 projects, shown by county.
- Provide funding for ongoing research that monitors elk behavior, habitat selection and the cause of mortality on a landscape with a growing Mexican wolf population. Researchers placed more than 400 GPS collars on adult female elk and plan to capture and tag 200 calves to guide the management decisions of biologists (also benefits Sierra and Socorro Counties).
- Provide funding for the installation of a new wildlife water development on the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Socorro Field Office land within Game Management Unit 15, which is managed for high-quality big game hunting opportunities. The project also includes large-scale thinning across 640 acres on the Horse Mountain landscape.
- Remove encroaching pinyon-juniper and small pine trees and utilize other habitat enhancement methods across 580 acres on BLM Socorro Field Office lands in the Pelona Mountain area. The work is part of a multi-year effort to enhance forage quality and quality for elk and other wildlife.
- Provide funding for a shooting clinic hosted by the Socorro Gun Club at the Capitan Smallbore Rifle Range. Attendees receive instruction and coaching in firearms safety and the fundamental principles and techniques of prone and 3-position .22 rifle shooting (also benefits Socorro and Valencia Counties).
- Rebuild 1.5 miles of old fencing designed to keep livestock from using wildlife water sources and forage within the BLM’s Rio Puerco Field Office lands. Adjacent to the Santa Fe National Forest and at the base of the Jemez Mountains, the area is crucial elk and mule deer winter range.
San Miguel County
- Provide funding for scientific mountain lion research about elk predation rates across part of the Sangre de Cristo Mountain range within Game Management Units 45 and 49, two of the state’s most important elk hunt units. Researchers will assess various aspects of mountain lion diets and potential predation impacts on elk.
Santa Fe County
- Provide funding for the Santa Fe County 4-H Shooting Sports program, which provides youth ages 9 to 19 firearm safety and marksmanship training while developing responsibility, sportsmanship, self-discipline and other skills.
- Provide volunteer manpower to upgrade and expand an existing wildlife water guzzler on BLM Socorro Field Office land on Chupadera Mountain. Specific work includes installing a new 5,000-gallon storage tank, drinker and 1,000-square-foot metal catchment apron as well as the construction of a 1.5-acre wildlife-friendly pipe and cable fence to keep out livestock.
- Provide volunteer manpower to repair a wildlife guzzler on BLM Socorro Field Office land in Kellogg Canyon. RMEF provided funding and volunteer assistance for its initial installation in 2012.
- Provide funding to help cover the cost of registration fees and ammunition for the New Mexico High School Clay Target Association State Championship, which is the culmination of seven statewide competitions and showcases lessons learned in safety, gun handling, sportsmanship, responsibility and accuracy.
New Mexico & Arizona
- Provide funding for the Navajo Nation Mule Deer Hunt in northeast Arizona and northwest New Mexico. Participants pass a hunter safety class, are paired with a mentor, spend time on the shooting range and hunt deer on tribal lands in the Chuska Mountains.
Project partners include the Bureau of Land Management, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, universities and conservation, sportsmen, civic and other organizations and individuals.
About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Founded more than 37 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of more than 231,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 8.2 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.