(Photo credit: David Jensen)
MISSOULA, Mont. — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation announced the allocation of $2,356,017 in grant funding, co-contributed by its partners, to benefit elk, blacktail and mule deer, and other wildlife while increasing hunting opportunity in Oregon.
“These funds go to a good mix of projects to enhance wildlife habitat, scientific research and wildlife management work,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “It also supports youth recreational shooting clubs, mentored hunts and activities promoting outdoors skills and conservation education.”
The types of projects range from converting old fencing to wildlife-friendly fencing, meadow restoration, forest thinning, invasive weed treatment and seeding to a migration study, habitat use research and an elk and mule deer highway crossing feasibility study.
RMEF supplied $386,694 that leveraged $1,969,323 in partners dollars.
There are more than 14,000 RMEF members and 23 chapters in Oregon.
“We salute our volunteers for the time and effort they put forth to help raise this funding,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “Because of them, we are better able to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.”
Since 1986, RMEF and its partners completed 1,084 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Oregon with a combined value of more than $84.7 million. These projects conserved or enhanced 872,448 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 140,102 acres.
View a list of the Oregon projects below, shown by county.
- Provide funding for the 2023 E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area Youth Pheasant Hunt north of Corvallis. Certified youth hunters attend a safety briefing and then take part in a hunt. For many participants, it is their first such opportunity (also benefits Clackamas, Deschutes, Jefferson, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Tillamook, Washington and Yamhill Counties).
- Enhance 355 acres of Roosevelt elk and blacktail deer habitat within the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area, managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Coos Bay District Office. Treatments include herbicide, mowing, tilling, prescribed burn and sowing native seeds (also benefits Douglas County).
- Provide funding for a multi-year study to monitor Roosevelt cow and calf elk in the Tioga Wildlife Management Unit to document habitat preferences, movements, survival rates and mortality. Findings will improve both Roosevelt elk management and forest management throughout Oregon’s Coast Range (also benefits Douglas County).
- Provide funding for a feasibility study to assess the establishment of a wildlife crossing structure near Indian Ford Creek at the base of Black Butte, a priority location for migrating elk and mule deer.
- Provide funding for the Mountain View High School Clay Target Club. The second largest club in Oregon with 69 participants in the 2022 fall season, participants learn firearm safety and responsibility while improving their target skills and confidence.
- Provide funding for improvements at the Three Rivers Archers Range, including those to help it remain open year-round.
- Provide funding for the Reedsport Community Charter School Clay Target Club, a group open to youth in grades 6-12.
- Thin 187 acres in the Paulina Ranger District on the Ochoco National Forest to promote native grass production and enhance bitterbrush on sagebrush steppe habitat that supports elk, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, turkey and sage grouse. The project area falls within critical elk winter range.
- Provide funding for a field trip with the RMEF’s Oregon Project Advisory Committee and the Blue Mountains Elk Initiative Operations Committee to highlight past, present and future projects on the Umatilla National Forest as a benefit for elk, deer, hunters and land management.
- Provide funding for the Cascade Christian High School Trap Team to learn safe and responsible firearms use as well as natural resource stewardship, improve skills and competition, and develop sportsmanship (also benefits Josephine County).
- Provide funding for a scientific study to determine the movement and seasonal habitat use of Rocky Mountain and Roosevelt elk on and around the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Reservation. Data will help facilitate a more comprehensive approach to landscape-level habitat restoration.
- Aerially seed 418 acres of important mule deer and elk habitat on land managed by the BLM Klamath Falls Field Office to restore juniper woodlands with little to no shrub component back to native sagebrush steppe, shrub and grasslands.
- Remove encroaching conifers across 200 acres within an inholding on the Fremont-Winema National Forest to enhance riparian and wildlife habitat for elk, mule deer and other wildlife.
- Enhance five interconnected meadows comprising 75 acres of public land managed by the BLM Upper Willamette Field Office in the south Willamette Valley and foothills of the Cascade Mountains. Crews plan to restore elk and blacktail deer habitat by treating weeds, reducing conifer encroachment as well as seeding and planting native bunchgrasses and forbs (also benefits Linn County).
- Restore and maintain two meadows that provide important habitat for Roosevelt elk, blacktail deer and other wildlife that are managed by the BLM Cascades Field Office in the Cascades foothills.
- Remove encroaching conifers from the Crabtree Mountain Meadow, on BLM Cascades Field Office managed land used by wildlife as both summer range and a migration corridor.
- Replace 10 to 12 miles of old, woven wire fencing with wildlife-friendly fencing on high-traffic elk winter range or calving grounds across private lands in the foothills of the Blue Mountains.
- Provide funding for the Aloha High School Clay Target Team to participate in the U.S. High School Clay Target League. The squad also makes shooting sports accessible to area students that do not have a home shooting team (also benefits Multnomah County).
- Treat 440 acres to improve forage by promoting the growth of annual grasses on the Bridge Creek Wildlife Area as part of an effort that previously treated 1,180 acres.
- Provide funding for the Pilot Rock High School Trap Team, which participates in the Oregon State High School Clay Target League. Open to all students in grades 6-12 across the district, participants develop trapshooting skills and competition in a safe and fun environment.
- Provide funding to help Weston-McEwen High School begin a trap shooting club.
- Provide funding for the Pendleton High School Trap Club. Students improve their skills and are also offered hunter education.
- Treat 75 acres of critical elk winter and yearlong habitat in the La Grande Ranger District on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. Crews use backpack sprayers to spot treat invasive weeds along the Minam River corridor (also benefits Wallowa County).
- Use a combination of helicopter and ground herbicide spraying to treat 2,000 acres of prime elk habitat across private land for invasive weeds. Crews also plan to inventory an additional 2,500 acres.
- Thin 1,116 acres of overstocked, young mixed conifer stands within the Starkey Management Unit on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. The project creates a more resilient landscape while increasing forage quality and quantity on year-round elk range.
- Provide funding to support the Oregon 4-H Youth Development Program. Nearly 3,000 youth take part in year-round competitions and learn about the safe and responsible use of equipment, hunting ethics and conservation.
- Provide funding support for the Oregon 4-H Shooting Sports Program, which provides upwards of 2,500 youth statewide ages 9-19 with an opportunity to learn about the safe and responsible firearms and archery equipment, develop skills, compete and grow their knowledge about hunting ethics and conservation.
- Provide funding for Cross the Divide, an organization that hosts guided elk hunts for deserving veterans and their families by creating an environment of caring and support.
- Provide funding for High Timber Dreams, a nonprofit that offers veterans, active duty, first responders and youth with hunting and other outdoor opportunities to support skill building and mental well-being.
- Provide volunteer support to host an Outdoor Dream Foundation elk hunt for a youth fighting a terminal illness. RMEF supplies transportation, meals, lodging, butchering the meat and a taxidermist to create a mount.
Project partners include the Bureau of Land Management, Ochoco and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon State University, private landowners and conservation, sportsmen, civic and business groups.
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 8.6 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.