Elk NetworkElk, Habitat in Southeastern States Get $500,000 Boost

Conservation , News Releases | March 3, 2021

MISSOULA, Mont. — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners contributed $508,392 in funding for 13 wildlife habitat enhancement, research and hunting heritage projects in Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. RMEF directly granted $191,102 in funding that leveraged an additional $317,290 in partner dollars.

“To help elk populations continue to strengthen and grow across their historic range across the eastern portion of the United States, it’s vital to enhance habitat and gather all the elk-related scientific knowledge that we can,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “This grant funding targets exactly that.”

There are 35 RMEF chapters and more than 14,100 members across the five-state region.

“We salute our volunteers who raised this funding so it could be put back on the ground in their individual states,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “Without them, we simply could not carry out our mission of ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and hunting heritage.”

Dating back to 1990, RMEF and its partners completed 550 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia with a combined value of more than $27.6 million. These projects protected or enhanced 122,689 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 108,296 acres.

Below is a list of each state’s 2020 projects, shown by state and county.

Kentucky – Clay & Leslie Counties

  • Apply mechanical and herbicide application treatments to remove non-native vegetation treatment across 32 acres of elk habitat in the Redbird Ranger District on the Daniel Boone National Forest. 

Kentucky – Knott County

  • Provide funding for research to gather information about calf production and survival while also monitoring movement and habitat use of cow elk.
  • Provide $2,000 toward a $6,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and prosecution of the person or persons responsible for poaching two bull elk in eastern Kentucky near the Ball Creek area.

Kentucky – Leslie County

  • Provide funding for an ongoing, multi-year project to enhance habitat on the Redbird Ranger District in the Daniel Boone National Forest. By selectively thinning in 91 tree stands, crews improve forage for elk, whitetail deer, black bears and other animal life.

North Carolina – Alexander County

  • Provide funding and volunteer manpower to support 30 hunters taking part in the Anthony Barnes Disabled Hunt. Guides and volunteers provide their assistance at the one-day hunt.

North Carolina – Haywood County

  • Provide funding for a multi-agency project examining elk movement and mortality associated with vehicle collisions in the Great Smoky Mountains. Researchers capture and outfit elk with GPS radio collars to assist with overall elk management.
  • Provide funding to study elk habitat use and to bolster population estimates in various locations. The findings will aid managers to identify where and how best to focus efforts to improve and protect elk habitat.

North Carolina – Haywood, Jackson, and Swain Counties

  • Provide funding to monitor elk movement across the Blue Ride Parkway, which bisects the Cherokee Qualla boundary, by developing automated camera trapping devices on each side of the highway onto tribal lands.

Kentucky – Statewide

  • Provide funding and volunteer manpower in support of the Kentucky River Beagle Club’s second annual youth field day. Youth ages 15 and under learn about hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities.

Tennessee – Claiborne County

  • Convert 20 acres dominated by non-native vegetation into a new wildlife forage opening on the Ed Carter Unit of the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area. The project provides high quality forage for elk and deer while improving hunting opportunity.

Tennessee – McMinn County

  • Provide funding for the National Archery in the Schools Program at Niota Elementary School, which offers students an opportunity to safely explore archery in a team setting.

Virginia – Buchannan County

  • Provide funding for an ongoing series of projects to create and enhance forage openings and water sources for elk and other wildlife in Virginia’s Elk Restoration Zone.

West Virginia – Logan County

  • Treat 125 acres of habitat on the Tomblin Wildlife Management Area to remove invasive plant species and improve forage for elk and other wildlife.

Project partners include the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Daniel Boone National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park and conservation, sportsmen, civic and various other organizations.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

Founded more than 36 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of more than 231,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 8.1 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.