National Program Critical for Recreational Access

Nature and the Wild need much support to sustain their heritage. Click on this short story to learn much more.

 

Cow Island

MISSOULA, Mont.—A funding mechanism with a long name provides long-lasting benefits for hunters, anglers, hikers and others seeking improved access to America’s wild landscapes.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation recently partnered with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to leverage more than $1 million in appropriations from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Priority Recreation Access program to open or improve access to nearly 55,000 acres of public land across four states.

Congress recently boosted LWCF to $425 million—a $25 million increase over 2017 but it did not permanently reauthorize the program which is set to expire September 30.

“LWCF is absolutely vital if we want to continue to permanently protect and provide access to habitat for elk and other wildlife,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation calls on Congress to permanently reauthorize this crucial program.”

RMEF’s most recent LWCF project was the conveyance of a 93-acre tract of land, known as the Cow Island Trail project, to the BLM that improves access to more than 6,000 acres of adjacent public land in north-central Montana’s Missouri River Breaks region.

“Expanding access to public lands for hunting and fishing is one of the BLM’s top priorities,” said Brian Steed, BLM deputy director for policy and programs. “Partnering with RMEF allows us to utilize critical funding to secure access to parcels like the Cow Island Trail project, which in turn broadens access now and ensures it for the future.”

Below is a list of RMEF-BLM projects utilizing LWCF-Priority Recreation Access funding.

      RMEF Project                                LWCF Funding

  • Cache Creek, California                   $321,000
  • Cow Island Trail, Montana               $97,500
  • La Barge Creek, Wyoming                $192,000
  • Tex Creek IV, Idaho                         $400,000

LWCF helps conserve wild and undeveloped places, cultural heritage and benefits fish, wildlife and recreation. Its funding comes from royalties paid by energy companies drilling for oil and gas on the Outer Continental Shelf. The royalties bring in $900 million annually, most of which is diverted to other federal programs.

“It takes great partners like the BLM to provide improved access opportunities for sportsmen and women but it also takes funding. These LWCF-Priority Recreation Access funds are absolutely critical in both conserving prime wildlife habitat and opening or improving access to it,” added Henning.

If you have questions about the RMEF or are interested in receiving background materials or arranging interviews please contact:

RMEF Director of Communication, Phone: 1-800-225-5355, Ext. 481 or E-mail: publicrelations@rmef.org.  For specific news in a state, please contact one of our Regional Directors.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Founded over 30 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of more than 227,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 7.3 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 www.rmef.org, www.elknetwork.com or 800-CALL ELK.
Take action:
join and/or donate.

Colorado Elk Habitat Protected, Hunting Access Improved

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  • 2,677 Acres of Vital Elk Habitat is NOW PROTECTED
  • Colorado Habitat Stamp Funding and Great Outdoors Colorado supplied KEY FUNDING
  • Grateful Thanks to Rick Tingle for Easement on his Louisiana Purchase Ranch

MISSOULA, MT.— Thanks to a conservation-minded landowner and a key state funding program, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation joined Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) to permanently protect 2,677 acres of vital elk habitat in northwest Colorado.

“We are grateful to Rick Tingle, a RMEF life member, for placing a conservation easement on his Louisiana Purchase Ranch,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “Additionally, this project highlights the critical need for the Colorado Wildlife Habitat Program (CWHP) and its Habitat Stamp which supplied important funding to help push things through to the finish line.”

“With a fast-growing human population, it is more important than ever before to ensure the state’s wildlife has the habitat it needs to survive in perpetuity,” said Bill de Vergie, CPW area wildlife manager. “Thanks to funds provided by Great Outdoors Colorado and CPW’s Habitat Stamp Program, a very valuable stretch of land is now protected through the CWHP. Some limited public hunting access will also be provided so the benefits of this easement will pay dividends well into the future.”

CWHP provides a means for CPW to work with private landowners, local governments, and conservation organizations to protect important fish and wildlife habitat and provide places for people to enjoy opportunities to hunt and fish.

Since the ranch is bordered on three sides by State Land Board and Bureau of Land Management land in a part of the state home to Colorado’s largest elk herds, it provides connectivity for elk and mule deer migration. Thousands of elk pass through the area during the spring and fall. The property also provides summer and winter range for both species and other wildlife.

“This truly is a special place,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO, who has visited the location. “We are grateful to the Tingle family for recognizing and helping us protect the wildlife values of this land.”

Access is improved to surrounding public lands because the landowner will provide perpetual unlimited permission to public hunters for a 25-day period each year with drive-through access. In addition, he signed off on a 10-year CPW agreement to provide access for six elk and/or deer hunters on lands off County Road 23 during a three-day window during Colorado’s third rifle season.

Since 1987, RMEF and its partners completed 726 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Colorado with a combined value of more than $165.2 million. These projects protected or enhanced 447,910 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 107,992 acres.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation: Founded over 30 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of more than 227,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 7.3 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 www.rmef.org, elknetwork.com or 800-CALL ELK.

 

 

 

 

Montana Elk Habitat Conserved, Opened to Public Access

For video and details, please visit: https://youtu.be/cEXi4RB8lsc.   Photo Credit: RMEF

MISSOULA, Mont. – Aug 22, 2017 —A key wildlife landscape previously threatened by subdivision in northwest Montana is now permanently protected and in the public’s hands thanks to a collaborative effort between the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, a conservation-minded family and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).

“This property lies within the popular Holland Lake recreational area of the scenic Swan Valley and there was some pressure to develop it,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “We appreciate the landowners for recognizing the wildlife values of the land and reaching out to us to help conserve it.”

The 640-acre parcel offers important summer and winter habitat for elk and whitetail deer. It is also provides key habitat for grizzly bears, Canada lynx and a vast array of other wildlife. Additionally, it contains riparian habitat via springs and a chain of wetland ponds that feed a tributary of Holland Creek.

Located about 65 miles north of Missoula, the property lies west of the Swan Mountain Range and is nestled between the Bob Marshall Wilderness to the east and Mission Mountain Wilderness to the west. It was previously an inholding within the Flathead National Forest but thanks to its conveyance, it now falls under the ownership umbrella of the USFS and belongs to all citizens.

”This acquisition will improve public land access, and help to preserve the recreation setting and valuable wildlife habitat in the popular Holland Lake area,” said Rich Kehr, Swan Lake district ranger.

The Holland Lake project is one of the first to receive 2017 funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. To see the video with details of this area, please visit: https://youtu.be/cEXi4RB8lsc.

Since 1985, RMEF and its partners completed 967 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Montana with a combined value of more than $160.2 million. These projects protected or enhanced 818,826 acres of habitat and opened or secured public access to 289,532 acres.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation: Founded over 30 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of more than 220,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 7.1 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 www.rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK. Take action: join and/or donate.

 

Learn Elk Hunting: Archery Details, Step-by-Step

Bugle Magazine is a hunter’s bi-monthly resource package, with tips, advice, gear know-how and humble stories from successful experts. Photo Courtesy of RMEF

By Forrest Fisher

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) has gone beyond the norm to help people everywhere learn more about conservation and hunting, and why hunting is so important to conservation.

Just having returned from a visit to Medora, North Dakota, and the National Park that Teddy Roosevelt created there, I am sure that our late President Roosevelt would be so very proud of the dedicated folks at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

I joined RMEF this past year and keep asking myself why I took so long to find RMEF, but at least now, I’m a member and their BUGLE magazine is not just a magazine, it is a learning tool.  In this latest issue (Jul/Aug 2017) of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation BUGLE, story author – Kurt Cox,  shares intimate, in-depth details of those many things a first-time archery elk hunter might be wondering about.  Veteran hunters too, can learn from Kurt’s tales of hands-on truth in easy-to-read lessons and descriptions.

He describes his manner of calling, his movement in trailing an Elk for a shot opportunity and how he survived through his consumption of spring water, wild berry picking and frosty overnight chills. All this amidst the wonder of the visual expanse of mountain peaks, dark timber and an internal impulse to use cow calls. All hunters can learn from his shared experiences in this story.

Cox shares his hope and wonder, all the while looking for that perfect spot that he might send his arrow and put some meat in the family freezer.  Then after much effort, significant effort, there is a cow, then a bull, then an arrow shot and a score.  We learn about ethics here too, since Cox takes a second arrow shot and a third too.  There is explanation for the harvest in this manner, clarification that hunters country-wide need to know more about.

Check out this story, then read much more in this ARCHERY ISSUE of BUGLE Magazine, in the nearly 40-page special edition section.  Learn about cows and bulls, elk habits, use of camo, scent, sound, the excitement, the right gear, making the right noises, the reality of the experience, and perhaps you will find in you, like me, the inspiration to travel thousands of miles to hunt an elk.

Hunting for elk is an escape for some, but it is an inspiration for all hunters.

The mission of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is to insure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.  I came late to embrace this RMEF group – I’m from the east, my poor excuse, but I’m here to pass the word to all of my hunter friends, especially bowhunter colleagues, to join up with RMEF and start the complete learning of how to better yourself for your next hunt.

What you learn from the BUGLE magazine will help make you a better hunter every time you step into the world of the woods.

Visit www.rmef.org and sign up soon.  After just one or two issues, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.  Reading this magazine is an adventure in learning.  Don’t delay. Remember, hunting is conservation.

 

FWS to Aim (Again) for Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Delisting

  • Top panel of bear specialists recommends US Fish and Wildlife Service develop a new proposal to delist Yellowstone grizzly population.
Grizzly Bears exist in increasing numbers in Yellowstone. Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Photo

Recently (December), the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) unanimously recommended the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) put out a new proposal for removing grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone region from federal Endangered Species Act protections. The IGBC includes the top managers from every state and federal agency managing grizzlies and grizzly habitat.

More than 700 grizzlies now roam this corner of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, which covers more than 12 million acres in and around Yellowstone and Grand Teton National parks. More grizzlies live here now than inhabited the entire lower 48 states in 1975, a three-fold increase from the estimated 225 bears that roamed the Greater Yellowstone in 1981.

Grizzly numbers and range are also expanding in Montana’s Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, where nearly 1,000 bears are now estimated to live. USFWS is looking at proposing the delisting of this population as well, and collected public comments for the post-delisting management plan in summer 2013. If the US Fish and Wildlife Service accepts the IGBC’s recommendation, as seems likely, it will issue a new proposed rule in the Federal Register. That will be followed by a multi-month public comment period. Given the time it will take to write and review the new rule, actual delisting likely will not occur until 2015.

The USFWS delisted grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone following similar recommendations in 2007, but lawsuits by environmental groups led the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to return the bears to endangered species protections two years later, citing questions raised about the decline of whitebark pines. The trees produce a protein-rich nut grizzly’s relish, but have declined as much as 70 percent in the Greater Yellowstone in recent years due to attacks by blister rust fungus and mountain pine beetles.

The USFWS then requested that the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, led by experts at the US Geological Survey, review the relationship between grizzly bear population health and recent declines in whitebark pine. In December, the IGBC received the results of that review. Researchers found grizzlies that previously foraged on whitebark pine in the fall have turned to other food sources—meat, chief among them—and haven’t displayed any distinguishable loss of body fat in that exchange. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team also released statistics that show bear deaths within the region fell by half in 2013, while cub production remained high. In fact the number of female grizzlies with cubs in the Yellowstone ecosystem was the highest ever counted in 2013.

For more than two decades, researchers studying the chemical make-up of hair samples found that Yellowstone grizzlies are among the most carnivorous bear populations in North America’s interior, according to IGBC’s recent report. Depending on the age and sex of a bear, meat makes up anywhere from 45 to 79 percent of the protein in their diet. Whitebark pine nut production is cyclical, as is the case with huckleberries and other foods. Some years they are prolific while other years they produce very few. And so grizzly bears were already accustomed to dealing with such diet shifts, substituting animal protein in poor seed years. Recent studies have borne this out, showing grizzlies have been able to maintain fat levels equal to that of the best whitebark seed years. Chris Servheen, USFWS grizzly bear recovery coordinator and a spokesman for the IGBC, also points to grizzlies in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDC) as a population that has grown 3 percent per year for decades without the presence of whitebarks.

“Whitebark pine has been functionally extinct in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem for 30 years due to the impacts of white pine blister rust,” says Servheen.  In December, the IGBC said it felt confident the Greater Yellowstone’s grizzly population is adapting well to a similar change. “The sense of the committee is that there is no measurable negative impact on either individual grizzly bears or the grizzly population as a whole,” says Servheen. “Given that, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee recommended that the USFWS should move forward and produce a new proposed delisting rule. The whitebark question was the only issue the 9th Circuit used to state that the Yellowstone grizzlies should not be delisted. The new analysis by the Study Team should address the concerns that the judges had about how declines in whitebark would impact the health of the Yellowstone grizzlies.” If recent history is any indication, it’s nearly guaranteed that new lawsuits from environmental groups will challenge any move by USFWS to delist, which may well return it to the chambers of a federal judge.

“I’m sure we’ll go through the legal knothole again,” says Servheen.

RMEF’s take: The booming populations of grizzlies in both the Greater Yellowstone and Northern Continental Divide ecosystems represent the Endangered Species Act doing exactly what it was intended to do: help imperiled species recover. That’s no simple task, especially when that animal can weigh a thousand pounds and roam 100 square miles or more. But the top bear biologists in America unanimously agree that we have achieved healthy, growing and sustainable grizzly populations. Instead of celebrating this success, though, the same serial litigators that overturned the Yellowstone ecosystem grizzly delisting in 2009 are loading their legal cannons for yet another round of lawsuits. This not only undercuts the letter of the law, it betrays all the sportsmen and diverse communities that have provided funding and other real forms of support to this recovery effort for decades. RMEF fully supports the conclusions of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee: delisting is long overdue in the greater Yellowstone.

Want to Help? You can help fuel one of America’s most effective conservation movements! Our members, donors and partners have helped conserve more than 7 million acres of elk country – a land area more than three times the size of Yellowstone National Park! The vast majority of that land is open for public hunting and other recreation, for you as well as the generations that will come after you.  But, each day, more wild places disappear. There is much work to do.  Elk, other wildlife, their habitat and America’s hunting heritage need your help. Please join RMEF today! Different membership levels are available. You’re welcome to join online by using the form (https://jrd.rmef.org/howtohelp/join), or by calling (800) 225-5355, Mon – Fri, 8 AM – 5 PM Mountain Time.

Groups Join Forces to Advocate Outdoor Policy

rmefcsf

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) signed a partnership that will foster greater cooperation to jointly advance the outdoor traditions of hunting, angling, recreational shooting and trapping at the state and national levels of government.  This is where many of the decisions impacting these outdoor activities are made.

Jeff Crane, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation President, shared, “Given that CSF and RMEF have long collaborated to advance the interests of America’s sportsmen and women, this formal partnership is a natural fit.  Working side-by-side, both organizations are well positioned to protect our hunting heritage in elk country and throughout the nation.”

The CSF States Program manages the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses which currently includes more than 2,000 state legislators in 48 bipartisan sportsmen’s caucuses across the nation. It also works with 33 members of the Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus as a link between lawmakers and the state and federal fish and wildlife management agencies, the outdoor industry and conservation organizations.

David Allen, RMEF President and CEO said, “It’s evident that now, more than ever, we need to educate and engage sportsmen and women, as well as our legislators, about the vital habitat, management and conservation issues and challenges that face our wildlife.  Working even closer with CSF helps us do exactly that.”

“RMEF has a long history of successfully working shoulder-to-shoulder with the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation,” said Blake Henning, RMEF Vice President of Lands and Conservation. “This agreement strengthens our resolve and intentions to work together to be more productive and do a greater good on behalf of conservation, wildlife, sportsmen and women.”

The ability to effectively advocate for natural resource and wildlife management policies as well as traditional outdoor interests is dependent on the ability to organize supporters on multiple fronts.

RMEF has nearly 220,000 members, including 11,000 volunteers, who take part in fundraising and on-the-ground conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects across more than 500 chapters in 49 different states.

The new agreement provides an enhanced opportunity to combine CSF’s conservation policy knowledge and network with RMEF’s membership and chapters to effectively guide policy in a way that encourages the participation of sportsmen and women in the legislative process. It also strengthens efforts to make a greater positive collective impact on outdoor heritage, wildlife management, public access, public and private land conservation, and hunter recruitment and retention.

About the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation:

Since 1989, CSF has maintained a singleness of purpose that has guided the organization to become the most respected and trusted sportsmen’s organization in the political arena. CSF’s mission is to work with Congress, governors, and state legislatures to protect and advance hunting, angling, recreational shooting and trapping. The unique and collective force of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC), the Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus (GSC) and the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses (NASC), working closely with CSF, and with the support of major hunting, angling, recreational shooting and trapping organizations, serves as an unprecedented network of pro-sportsmen elected officials that advance the interests of America’s hunters and anglers.  For more information, contact Sara Leonard, CSF, (202) 543-6850 x11 or sara@sportsmenslink.org

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

Founded over 30 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of nearly 220,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 6.7 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 www.rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.  For more information, contact Mark Holyoak, RMEF, 406-523-3481 or mholyoak@rmef.org