There is great strength in numbers.
There can also be great conservation accomplishment.
And that’s exactly what happened on the Ochoco (OH’-chuh-coe) National Forest in central Oregon.
Seventy volunteers from a variety of groups including the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Oregon Hunters Association, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Forest Service and others gathered for the first-ever “All Hands, All Brands for Your Public Lands” event.
The goal was to bring together like-minded conservation and outdoor organizations to increase the scope and scale of landscape restoration work under the umbrella of the Blue Mountains Elk Initiative – a cooperative effort between federal, state, private landowners and industries, Tribal Nations, RMEF and other groups to enhance habitat for elk and other wildlife across the Blue Mountains of Oregon and Washington.
Over two days, volunteers tallied a combined 754 hours to remove trees and brush and then build 3,200 feet of new fencing to protect the longevity of natural resources.
They also repaired broken poles at two buck and pole projects, and cleaned and/or repaired a dozen wildlife water guzzlers.
In addition to working together and learning more about each other’s missions, participants had some fun too…taking part in archery and .22 rifle shoots and then capped the weekend with a potluck steak dinner.
The event also laid the groundwork for the upcoming Greater William Prairie Restoration Project – a 17,000-acre ridge top to valley bottom restoration effort utilizing all Blue Mountain Elk Initiative partners.
The initiative area encompasses 19 million acres within the Blue Mountains, home to more than 55,000 elk that are intimately tied to timber and habitat management, ranching, farming and hunting.
Restoring elk country is core to RMEF’s Managed Lands Initiative.
Since 1984, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners completed more than 12,400 conservation and hunting heritage projects that protected or enhanced more than 7.9 million acres of wildlife habitat.