July 10, 2012
Colorado Elk Country to Benefit from RMEF Grants
MISSOULA, Mont.—Rejuvenating wildlife habitat being invaded by noxious weeds and encroaching pinyon/juniper is the main theme in a list of Colorado conservation projects slated to receive 2012 grants from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
The RMEF funding commitment totals $263,232 and affects 19 counties: Alamosa, Archuleta, Boulder, Conejos, Delta, Fremont, Garfield, Grand, Gunnison, Mesa, Mineral, Moffat, Montezuma, Montrose, Park, Rio Blanco, Rio Grande, Routt and San Miguel.
Additional projects have statewide and regional interest.
“Prescribe burning, forest thinning and weed treatment projects will help enhance some 9,000 acres of elk habitat across Colorado,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “We’re also investing in different research projects to improve elk population estimates, management strategies and potential impacts from oil and gas development.”
RMEF’s mission is to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife and their habitat. Since 1985, the organization and its partners have completed 560 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Colorado with a combined value of more than $128.9 million.
Funding for RMEF grants is based on local membership drives and banquet fundraising by RMEF chapters and volunteers in Colorado. Allen thanked RMEF supporters for their dedication to conservation both in Colorado and all across elk country.
RMEF grants will help fund the following 2012 projects in Colorado, listed by county:
Archuleta County—Aerially ignite and prescribe burn 2,000 acres to improve quality and quantity of grass and forb forage for elk in the Piedra, Devil Mountain and Archuleta Creek areas of the San Juan National Forest.
Boulder County—Provide sponsorship for TUNE Camp at the Cal-Wood Education Center to introduce youths to outdoor recreation and conservation.
Conejos County—Provide funding for Colorado Parks and Wildlife research to estimate elk populations and seasonal movement patterns in the San Juan Mountains. Radio collars will be placed on 25 elk to determine habitat use and more (also affects Alamosa, Archuleta, Mineral and Rio Grande counties).
Delta County—Provide sponsorship for Outdoor Heritage Day in Delta, Colo., to engage youths in wildlife, conservation and shooting.
Fremont County—Improve elk and deer range by removing encroaching pinyon/juniper across 400 acres in the Racepath Gulch area of BLM lands.
Grand County—Decommission, re-contour, subsoil, seed and mulch dead-end spur roads (main thoroughfares will remain open) to improve habitat for elk in the Kauffman Creek area of the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest; treat 185 acres of noxious weeds in the Sulphur Ranger District backcountry of the Arapaho National Forest.
Gunnison County—Prescribe burn 208 acres to enhance habitat for foraging elk in the Sapinero Mesa and Dutch Gulch areas of BLM lands; decommission and rehabilitate unnecessary roads in the Sugar Creek area of BLM lands; provide sponsorship for Gunnison Fishing and Outdoor Sports Derby to introduce youths to outdoor recreation and conservation; sponsor Gunnison Middle School National Archery in the Schools program.
Mesa County—Continue with a multi-year project to improve elk habitat on BLM lands by prescribe burning 445 acres to enhance forage in the Nick Mountain area; mechanically treat pinyon/juniper encroachment and re-seed native vegetation to improve 300 acres of sagebrush habitat in the Turkey Tracks and Dominguez Ridge areas of the Uncompahgre National Forest; provide sponsorship for Outdoor Heritage Day in Palisade, Colo., to engage youths in wildlife, conservation and shooting.
Moffat County—Assist with funding for Colorado Parks and Wildlife research to measure potential impacts of oil and gas development on the Williams Fork elk herd (also affects Routt County).
Montezuma County—Remove shrubs and small conifers to enhance forage for elk and deer on 250 acres in the Grouse Point area of San Juan National Forest.
Montrose County—Thin pinyon/juniper encroachment and prescribe burn to rejuvenate forage for elk and deer on 750 acres in the Monitor Mesa area of Uncompahgre National Forest (also affects Mesa County); treat 1,250 acres of noxious sulphur cinquefoil weeds in the Copper King area of Uncompahgre National Forest.
Park County—Mechanically treat encroaching conifers and prescribe burn 246 acres to improve elk habitat in the Mud Springs area of the James Mark Jones State Wildlife Area.
Rio Blanco County—Improve elk foraging and calving areas by using horse-mounted equipment to treat 1,000 acres of noxious weeds in the Lost Park/Williams Fork areas of the White River National Forest; treat residual and new weed infestations on 350 acres in the Flat Tops Wilderness and Pagoda Roadless Area of Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest (also affects Routt, Grand and Garfield counties); continue multi-phase project to improve habitat for elk on public land in White River National Forest area by improving 800 acres of native forage in the Milk Creek area.
San Miguel County—Close and rehabilitate non-system, user-created roads to improve habitat for elk, turkey and sage grouse in the East Naturita Division of the Norwood Ranger District, Uncompahgre National Forest.
Statewide and Regional—Assist with funding for a northwestern U.S. study to synthesize data from seven states (Colo., Idaho, Mont., Ore., Utah, Wash. and Wyo.) to improve elk management models against factors such as habitat changes, predators and weather patterns; provide title sponsorship for Country Jam 2012 Military Day.
Conservation 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 hunting heritage projects to receive grants.
Partners for 2012 projects in Colorado include the Bureau of Land Management, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, U.S. Forest Service and other agencies, organizations, corporations and landowners.