MISSOULA, Mont. — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners awarded $2,115,136 of grant funding in Arizona to benefit habitat for elk and other wildlife, scientific research and hunting heritage projects. RMEF directly granted $234,069 and leveraged an additional $1,881,067 in partner funding for on the ground conservation work.
The projects benefit 19,854 acres of wildlife habitat across Apache, Coconino, Greenlee, Maricopa, Navajo, Yavapai and Yuma Counties. One project is of statewide benefit.
“These grants will help restore native grasslands, improve year-round water sources for wildlife and help scientists better understand predator-prey relationships,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “They will also help competitive youth shooting squads prepare the next generation of hunters.”
Arizona is home to more than 6,600 RMEF members and eight chapters.
“This funding is simply not available to go on the ground in Arizona without the hard work and dedication of our volunteers,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “We recognize and thank them for their efforts.”
Since 1986, RMEF and its partners completed 504 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Arizona with a combined value of more than $35.1 million. These projects protected or enhanced 430,128 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 21,585 acres.
Below is a list of Arizona’s 2020 projects, shown by county.
- Provide funding for research examining the influence of Mexican wolves on elk populations in Arizona and New Mexico. Data collected from more than 500 elk wearing GPS collars will allow for assessment of elk behavior, habitat selection and age-specific survival and cause specific mortality (also benefits Greenlee and Navajo Counties).
- Combine selective thinning of encroaching trees with prescribed burning to improve forage quality and quantity on 1,158 acres of elk and mule deer winter range on the Springerville Ranger District on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.
- Provide funding and volunteer manpower for an annual Adopt-a-Ranch work project to repair damaged fence, remove old fencing and install wildlife water troughs to improve habitat for elk and other wildlife as well as livestock. (Here is a video highlighting the 2019 project on the same ranch.)
- Clean, repair and rebuild two tank systems that provide a dependable water source for wildlife across 1,280 acres in the Cow Flat area on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.
- Provide funding to purchase 3D targets for the Arete Preparatory Academy’s squad participating in the National Archery in the School Program. Entering 2020, the team includes boys and girls in grades five through 12 with hopes to expand to 4th grade as well.
- Provide funding for the Rio Salado Target Terminators, one of the first Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) teams formed in Arizona 16 years ago. The club utilizes certified volunteer shotgun coaches to teach shooting sports sportsmanship, responsibility, teamwork and other life skills.
- Renovate two water catchments in Game Management Unit 4B on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest to improve year-round water availability across 1,280 acres for elk and other wildlife.
- Repair and expand water systems in the Lakeside Ranger District on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest to benefit 7,040 acres of winter range for elk and pronghorn antelope. The project also benefits grazing livestock.
- Provide funding to restore historic grasslands across 6,816 acres of private land degraded by encroaching trees. The landscape provides year-round habitat for elk, pronghorn antelope, mule deer and other wildlife.
- Provide funding for the Yuma Young Guns, a SCTP shotgun team offering the opportunity for leadership, teamwork, respect and instruction about the safe use of firearms through effective training and competition with peers.
- Provide funding and volunteer manpower for the annual White Mountain Chapter Youth Elk Camp. RMEF volunteers serve as mentors while providing meals and education regarding the role hunting plays in conservation. Participants come from around Arizona and oftentimes from other states.
Project partners include the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, New Mexico State University, private landowners and sportsmen, businesses and other organizations.
About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Founded more than 36 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of nearly 235,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 8 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.