May 8, 2012
RMEF to Fund Montana Habitat, Research Projects
MISSOULA, Mont.—Rejuvenating forage and controlling noxious weeds to improve habitat for elk and other wildlife are the main themes in a list of Montana conservation projects slated to receive 2012 grants from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
The RMEF funding commitment totals $257,011 and affects 14 counties: Broadwater, Fergus, Lewis and Clark, Lincoln, Madison, Mineral, Missoula, Petroleum, Powder River, Powell, Ravalli, Rosebud, Sanders and Stillwater.
The newly announced grants do not include the recent $51,000 contribution from RMEF to support implementation of Montana’s approved wolf management plan.
“Prescribed burning, forest thinning and weed treatment projects will help to enhance some 18,000 acres of habitat across Montana,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “We’re also continuing to provide major funding for the high-profile, elk-survival research in the Bitterroot Valley, where preliminary findings support managing and controlling predator populations. Managing for a balance between predators and prey is so important in areas where habitat is shrinking or in less than optimum condition.”
RMEF’s mission is to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife and their habitat. Since 1985, the organization and its partners have completed 736 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Montana with a combined value of more than $128 million.
Funding for RMEF grants is based on local membership drives and banquet fundraising by RMEF chapters and volunteers in Montana. Allen thanked RMEF supporters for their dedication to conservation both in Montana and all across elk country.
RMEF grants will help fund the following 2012 projects in Montana, listed by county:
Broadwater County—Improve habitat for elk and other wildlife by treating noxious weeds on 66 acres in the northern Elkhorn Mountains area.
Fergus County—Prescribe burn 1,200 acres to rejuvenate forage for elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep and turkeys in the Gallatin Rapids area of BLM lands.
Lewis and Clark County—Enhance elk and mule deer wintering range via a prescribe burn on 1,100 acres in the Alice Creek area of the Helena National Forest.
Lincoln County—Prescribe burn 334 acres to improve elk winter range in the Tobacco Plains area of the Kootenai National Forest; treat noxious weeds and prescribe burn 1,000 acres in the Warland, Bristow and Cripple Horse creek areas of the Kootenai National Forest.
Madison County—Improve forage in elk wintering and calving areas by treating noxious weeds on 500 acres near Bear Creek Wildlife Area.
Mineral County—Rejuvenate decadent vegetation by thinning and prescribe burning 591 acres for elk in the South Fork Fish Creek area of the Lolo National Forest.
Missoula County—Treat 185 acres of noxious weeds at Boyer Ranch to enhance critical wintering habitat for a regional elk herd as well as for deer and upland birds; aerially treat spotted knapweed and apply bio-controls (knapweed weevils) on 398 acres in the Marent Gulch area of the Lolo National Forest.
Petroleum County—Prescribe burn 4,065 acres of elk wintering range in the Tin Can Hill area of BLM lands.
Powder River County—Thin encroaching conifers and prescribe burn 1,500 acres to improve elk habitat in the Threemile area of the Custer National Forest (also affects Rosebud County).
Powell County—Enhance aspen and shrub growth by thinning conifers on 326 acres, and treating noxious weeds on 523 acres, for foraging elk in the Marcum Mountain area of BLM lands.
Ravalli County—Provide continued funding for research on elk survival and recruitment in the Bitterroot Valley; thin encroaching conifers and prescribe burn 4,000 acres to improve habitat for elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep, moose, black bears, great gray owls and other wildlife in the East Fork Bitterroot River area of the Bitterroot National Forest.
Sanders County—Enhance 700 acres of elk habitat by treating noxious weeds and introducing bio-controls (knapweed weevils) in the Thompson River area; thin encroaching conifers and prescribe burn 400 acres in the Falls Creek Flat area of Lolo National Forest.
Stillwater County—Treat noxious weeds such as leafy spurge, spotted knapweed and sulfur cinquefoil on 1,500 acres of elk habitat in the upper Stillwater River watershed.
Projects are selected for grants using science-based criteria and a committee of RMEF volunteers and staff along with representatives from partnering agencies and universities. RMEF staff and volunteers select education projects to receive grants.
Partners for 2012 projects in Montana include the Bureau of Land Management, Montana Dept. of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, U.S. Forest Service and other agencies, organizations, corporations and landowners.