Elk NetworkArizona’s Wildlife Habitat, Hunting Heritage Get $3.7 Million Upgrade

News Releases | October 12, 2023

MISSOULA, Mont. — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners allocated $3,754,957 in grant funding to enhance nearly 5,000 acres of habitat for elk, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, turkey and a host of other wildlife species.

“Arizona is home to a healthy elk herd but some of its range is not so healthy. Two habitat enhancement projects improve forage in northcentral Arizona by removing encroaching juniper and pinyon growth,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “To highlight two other projects, one of them expands water sources for wildlife while another safely removes unauthorized feral horses from tens of thousands of acres to help restore vital wildlife and riparian habitat.”

Four additional projects provide financial support for youth clay target shooting and archery groups.

RMEF supplied $314,962 funding which helped leverage $3,439,995 in partner dollars.

“We salute and thank our RMEF volunteers across Arizona. Thanks to their dedicated fundraising efforts, we are able to put these dollars back on the ground for the benefit of elk, other wildlife, hunting and conservation,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO.

Arizona is home to more than 6,000 RMEF members and eight chapters.

Dating back to 1986, RMEF and its partners completed 534 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Arizona with a combined value of more than $38.7 million. These projects conserved and enhanced 468,065 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 21,585 acres.

See the complete project list below, shown by county.

Apache County

  • Provide funding to help safely remove invasive feral horses that outcompete native wildlife and have a detrimental impact on vegetation and riparian habitat in the Springerville Ranger District on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. Once crews remove horses, boundary fences will be rebuilt to protect habitat while benefiting elk, mule deer and other wildlife.

Coconino County

  • Restore 3,135 acres of grassland habitat and big game corridors while reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire by removing encroaching juniper growth in the Red Rock Ranger District on the Coconino National Forest. The project area is elk winter range and year-round habitat for pronghorn antelope and mule deer. It also benefits bighorn sheep, black bear and other species.
  • Remove encroaching juniper and pinyon across 400 acres in the Flagstaff Ranger District on the Coconino National Forest to improve wildlife habitat and overall forest health. Wood from the project is available for Indigenous communities that rely on firewood to heat their homes.

Maricopa County

  • Supply funding to support members of the Wickenburg Christian Academy to participate in the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) Western National Tournament, an event drawing more than 3,000 shooters from across the West.
  • Provide funding for Pilgrim Lutheran School to start a NASP squad to promote shooting sports and a love for the outdoors.

Navajo County

  • Supply funding for the White Mountain Clay Busters team to participate in three state Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) championships and at the national level.

Yavapai County

  • Install a solar pump at an existing well in the Chino Valley Ranger District on the Prescott National Forest. Crews will also install two-and-a-half miles of underground pipeline, two wildlife drinkers and two 12,000-gallon storage tanks to improve year-round water availability for elk, Coues whitetail deer, black bear, turkey and other wildlife.

Yuma County

  • Supply funding for the Yuma Young Guns, a SCTP program for participants in elementary school through college to learn firearm safety, teamwork and compete in a safe environment.

Funding partners include the Apache-Sitgreaves, Coconino and Prescott National Forests, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Salt River Project Agricultural Improvement and Power District, and various conservation, sportsmen groups and individuals.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

Founded more than 39 years ago and fueled by hunters, RMEF maintains more than 225,000 members and has conserved more than 8.7 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 rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.