December 20, 2011
South Dakota Conservation Projects Earn RMEF Grants
MISSOULA, Mont.—The Researching the causes behind recent declines in elk herds at Custer State Park, and rejuvenating habitat and water sources across the Black Hills, headline a list of South Dakota conservation projects earning 2011 grants from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
The RMEF grants total $80,309 and affect five counties: Butte, Custer, Lawrence, Meade and Pennington.
Two additional projects have statewide interest.
“RMEF volunteers in South Dakota are taking the lead on a massive guzzler maintenance initiative to benefit elk and other wildlife across the Black Hills,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO, “and the research project at Custer State Park will be used by game managers to help formulate hunting-season recommendations in the future.”
Allen added, “All together, the habitat improvement projects that RMEF is funding this year could add at least 583 acres to the 61,149 acres that we’ve previously helped to conserve or enhance for wildlife in South Dakota.”
Nationally, RMEF recently reached the 6 million-acre mark in lands conserved or enhanced for elk and other wildlife. Allen thanked RMEF volunteers and fundraiser attendees in South Dakota for helping the organization reach a major conservation milestone.
RMEF grants will help fund the following 2011 projects, listed by county:
Custer County—In partnership with state and federal agencies, research pregnancy rates, calf nutritional condition, predation and other potential causes behind recent declines in the elk herd at Custer State Park; enhance forage by prescribe burning 578 acres in Norbeck Wildlife Preserve, and fence three acres of riparian areas to allow regeneration of plant species; treat five acres of knapweed infestation in Hell Canyon Ranger District.
Lawrence County—RMEF volunteers will monitor and repair as needed more than 46 guzzlers used as water sources by elk and other species in the Black Hills (also affects Meade County); provide sponsorship for building an interpretive trail to enhance youth and public education at Sawyer Memorial Park (also affects Butte, Meade and Pennington counties).
Pennington County—Provide sponsorship for interpretive displays to enhance public and youth education at the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department’s Rapid City Outdoor Campus-West facility.
Statewide—Provide sponsorship for South Dakota 2011 Youth Hunting Adventures to provide at-risk youths with hunting experiences and an introduction to outdoor recreation and conservation; provide sponsorship for the South Dakota 2012 Outdoor Expo.
Conservation projects are selected for grants using science-based criteria and a committee of RMEF volunteers and staff along with representatives from partnering agencies. RMEF staff and volunteers select education projects to receive grants.
Partners for 2011 projects in South Dakota include South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Geological Survey and other organizations.
Since 1984, RMEF and its partners have completed 181 different conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in South Dakota with a combined value of more than $31.9 million.