MISSOULA, Mont. — There is better forage for Idaho’s elk, whitetail and mule deer, moose, pronghorn antelope and other wildlife thanks to $3,832,977 in grant funding from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its conservation partners.
The grant funding goes toward on-the-ground habitat stewardship work ranging from forest fuel reduction and riparian enhancement to improving migration corridors, invasive weed treatment and prescribed burning across more than 53,000 acres.
RMEF supplied $510,948 for habitat work, scientific research and hunting heritage efforts in Idaho that helped leverage $3,322,029 in partner funding.
There are more than 8,500 RMEF members and 18 chapters across Idaho.
“We cannot thank our Idaho volunteers enough for their planning, energy and dedication in generating this funding that furthers our mission,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO.
Since 1985, RMEF and its partners completed 691 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Idaho with a combined value of more than $87.4 million. These projects conserved or enhanced 659,799 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 43,128 acres.
Below is a list of Idaho’s 2023-funded projects.
- Supply funding support for the Snake River Shooting Team. Squad members receive instruction about safely handling firearms, trap shooting and sporting clays as they compete in state and regional competitions.
- Supply funding for Bellevue Elementary School to expand its National Archery in the Schools Program and help students learn about and safely use archery equipment.
- Provide funding for the Bad to the Bow 4-H Archery Club, a team of youth ranging from beginners to those with advanced skills that applies their skills to competitions and hunting.
- Build a parking area and trailhead as a new public access point into 13,000 acres of public land.
- Apply thinning, prescribed fire and invasive weed treatment within aspen stands across 634 acres of elk and mule deer winter range in the Palisades Ranger District of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest.
- Provide funding for Bonneville County 4-H to train volunteers and expand its program that offers youth participation in archery, hunting, air rifle and pistol, muzzleloader and shotgun disciplines.
- Supply funding to retrofit fences allowing wildlife to better move along an established migration corridor that includes land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Idaho Falls Field Office and private landowners.
- Provide funding to establish the Lost River Straight Shooters 4-H Club, a first-year program to help team members learn about shooting sports, competition and teamwork.
- Supply funding to support the Nampa Bow Chiefs Scholastic 3-D Archery Program with its mission to foster, educate and guide youth about indoor target, 3-D and outdoor target archery as well as safe and ethical bowhunting practices (also benefits Ada County).
- Use a combination of thinning and prescribed fire to treat 2,184 acres within 38 stands of ponderosa pine in an area used as winter range by the Lolo elk herd. It also supplies quality forage for mule deer and moose.
- Install wildlife-friendly fencing on land managed by the BLM Challis Field Office to keep livestock out of 155 acres of Burnt Creek riparian habitat that serves as spawning habitat for bull trout. The project also benefits elk, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, Greater sage-grouse and other species.
- Supply funding for research to monitor the response of elk to extensive landscape-scale restoration of early seral habitat in the Clearwater Basin. The study also includes capturing and collaring elk as well as mapping vegetation and sampling for nutritional content (also benefits Idaho, Latah, Lewis, Nez Perce and Shoshone Counties).
- Offer financial support for 10 students from Preston and Dayton area schools to take part in a mentored cow hunt. Students write essays about wildlife, hunting and conservation with winners selected to participate in the hunt.
- Provide funding to distribute cans of bear spray to attendees presenting current hunting or fishing licenses at events in Island Park, Driggs and Ashton (also benefits Teton County).
- Build wildlife-friendly fencing around nine acres to exclude livestock from important riparian meadows for elk and other wildlife, and stream habitat for steelhead, within the Corral Creek watershed. Willow and cottonwood planting along with installation of beaver dam analogs will further reduce floodplain and streambank erosion while protecting downstream restoration efforts.
- Supply funding support for the Potlatch High School Trap Shooting Team for participants in grades six through 12 from schools in Potlatch, Troy, Deary and Moscow.
- Treat 4,500 acres of BLM Challis Field Office, Salmon-Challis National Forest and private lands for cheatgrass on crucial elk winter range. The project also benefits bighorn sheep, moose, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, Greater sage-grouse and other wildlife (also benefits Custer County).
- Treat 3,500 acres for invasive grasses within important sagebrush habitat for elk, mule deer, Greater sage-grouse and other wildlife on state and private lands.
- Treat 42,000 acres of sagebrush-steppe habitat for Greater sage-grouse, elk, pronghorn antelope and other wildlife within the 1.67-million-acre Bruneau Owhyee Sage-Grouse Habitat or BOSH project area in southeast Idaho. Crews remove juniper trees encroaching on landscape-scale swaths of sagebrush and native grass (see 2020 RMEF video here).
- Thin mixed conifer stands to open the canopies and restore forage quality across 394 acres of elk winter range in the Coeur d’Alene Ranger District of the Idaho Panhandle National Forest.
- Supply volunteer manpower to remove multi-strand wire from a defunct railway along the Route of the Hiawatha, a scenic and popular bike trail straddling the Idaho-Montana border.
Twin Falls County
- Supply funding support for the Burley Bobcat Trap Team, a squad featuring students from Burley, Declo and Valley High Schools.
- Provide funding for the 21st Century Farm Kids 4-H Shooting Sports, a program that helps participants become better target shooters, hunters and citizens through firearms safety and skills instruction.
- Supply funding to support Scooter’s Youth Hunting Camp, which hosts 250 boys and girls ages 9-16 from across Idaho for a free, one-day outdoor experience staffed by volunteers.
- Co-sponsored annual meeting of the Idaho Chapter of the Wildlife Society, a nonprofit organization of wildlife experts dedicated to excellence in science-based management and conservation of wildlife populations and their habitat.
Project partners include the Bureau of Land Management, Caribou-Targhee, Idaho Panhandle and Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, and various government, civic and conservation groups as well as private citizens.
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.