May 24, 2011
Idaho Habitat, Research Projects Funded by RMEF
MISSOULA, Mont.—Controlling noxious weeds, managing overgrown forests and researching wolf predation on elk population dynamics headline a list of 2011 grants for Idaho from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
The new RMEF funding totals $72,013 and affects 17 counties: Adams, Bear Lake, Bingham, Blaine, Boise, Bonneville, Butte, Caribou, Clark, Clearwater, Custer, Elmore, Idaho, Jefferson, Lemhi, Teton and Valley counties.
A wolf/elk research project based in Clearwater County has statewide interest.
“This research will help state and tribal biologists better understand and predict the specific impacts of wolves on elk. Those data will provide for better management of both species,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “Elsewhere, fire suppression and noxious weed infestations are taking a toll on areas elk use as winter range, summer range, migration corridors and calving grounds. The habitat projects that we’re funding this year will help restore habitat quality, and could add over 25,000 acres to the 377,487 acres that we’ve previously helped to conserve or enhance for wildlife across Idaho.”
Nationally, RMEF hopes to impact about 100,000 acres in 2011 to reach the 6 million-acre lifetime mark in lands conserved or enhanced for elk and other wildlife.
Allen thanked RMEF volunteers and fundraiser attendees for building the organization’s grant coffers in Idaho, saying, “Because of their amazing passion and generous support, a major conservation milestone is within reach.”
RMEF grants will help fund the following 2011 projects, listed by county:
Adams County—To improve wildlife forage and habitat conditions for elk and other big game, prescribe burn 3,000 acres in the Curren Mountain area of Payette National Forest.
Bear Lake County—Treat 150 acres of noxious weeds to enhance winter range for elk and other big game in the Giraffe Creek and Soda Springs areas of Caribou-Targhee National Forest (also affects Bonneville and Caribou counties).
Bingham County—Provide funding for a research project involving radio collars on 20 cow elk to determine seasonal habitat use and movement patterns near Idaho National Laboratory (also affects Bonneville, Butte, Clark and Jefferson counties).
Boise County—Enhance forage quality for elk by prescribe burning 1,700 acres ponderosa pine and shrub habitat near Garden Valley ranger station at Boise National Forest; continue program for early detection of noxious weeds and rapid response (via horse-packed spray equipment) to improve habitat along backcountry trails in and around Sawtooth Wilderness Area (also affects Blaine and Elmore counties).
Bonneville County—Reduce encroaching conifer, restore aspen communities and improve elk forage by prescribe burning 400 acres and mechanically thinning 600 acres in the Fall Creek area of Caribou-Targhee National Forest.
Clearwater County—Purchase GPS radio collars to assist with research on wolf predation and elk population dynamics (also affects Boise County). Results will be used to develop models to improve wildlife management statewide.
Idaho County—As part of a multi-year initiative to restore elk habitat in the Clearwater and Nez Perce national forests, prescribe burn up to 15,000 acres to enhance winter and summer forage (also affects Clearwater County); treat at least 112 acres of scattered noxious weeds to improve habitat in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area (also affects Custer, Lemhi and Valley counties); prescribe burn 2,000 acres to enhance forage in the Patrick Butte area of Payette National Forest.
Lemhi County—Install wildlife-friendly fencing around three guzzlers (intended to provide water for wildlife) to restrict livestock access and restore habitat quality for elk and other wildlife in the Coal Kiln, Davis and Worthing canyon areas of Caribou-Targhee National Forest.
Teton County—Install a half-mile of fence to exclude cattle from critical elk winter range in the Teton Valley.
Projects are selected for grants using science-based criteria and a committee of RMEF volunteers and staff along with representatives from partnering agencies and universities.
Partners for 2011 projects in Idaho include Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Idaho State University, Nez Perce Tribe, U.S. Forest Service, other agencies, tribes, organizations, corporations and landowners.
Since 1985, RMEF and its partners have completed 393 different conservation and education projects in Idaho with a combined value of more than $47.9 million.