Catastrophic wildfire can alter a landscape for years or even decades.
High-intensity fires destroy trees, shrubs, plants, root systems and the soil’s protective vegetation layer.
Subsequent rainfall causes soil erosion, may trigger landslides and severely alter or ruin water quality in rivers and streams.
Freshly scarred lands are ripe for the spread of noxious or invasive plants and weeds that crowd out quality, life-sustaining forage for elk and other wildlife.
As the years pass, wildfires continue to grow in size, duration, severity and in number.
According to the National Interagency Fire Center, from 2012 to 2022, nearly 474,000 thousand fires charred more than 64 million acres of forest and grassland.
While generating funds to enhance wildlife habitat and placing that funding on the ground has always been a pillar of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s mission, RMEF announced a $1 million commitment in early 2022 specifically to help with the restoration of landscapes affected by wildfires.
Those dollars immediately targeted 19 projects across Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, New Mexico, Utah, Washington and Wyoming, with Colorado and Nevada joining the list shortly thereafter.
Habitat enhancement work includes repairing or replacing wildlife water developments, invasive weed control, planting shrubs and native vegetation, seeding and other treatments to restore vital elk range and other habitats.
And that million-dollar commitment has only grown since then to benefit active forest management projects addressing overly dense tree stands and dead downfall, prolific growth of ladder fuels and encroaching conifers – all of which can lead to large, uncharacteristic wildfires.
RMEF continues to carry out hands-on habitat stewardship work by relying on scientific research that affirms the beneficial impact of prescribed burns, forest thinning and other treatments that restore the environment by returning nutrients to the soil, stimulating plant growth and restoring forest health and resiliency.
And it will do more of the same going forward. To learn more, go to rmef-dot-org-slash-wildfire.
Restoring elk country is integral to RMEF’s mission of ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.
Since 1984, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners completed more than 13,000 conservation and hunting heritage projects that conserved or enhanced more than 8.5 million acres of habitat.