The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation recently took a seat at the table with North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and others to talk about the importance of wildlife crossings. Fifth grade students from a K-12 charter school in Fletcher, a small town about 40 miles east of North Carolina’s elk zone, hand-delivered letters to the governor about the I-40 Pigeon River Gorge Wildlife Crossing Project that seeks to help animals safely cross the busy highway.
“RMEF and partners were thrilled to sit down with Governor Cooper to advocate for wildlife crossing projects on Interstate 40 through North Carolina’s elk zone,” said Steven Dobey, RMEF conservation program manager, eastern U.S. “These efforts would bolster the long-term survival of this growing elk herd and make a North Carolina a leader in national efforts make highways safer for drivers and wildlife.”
RMEF recently purchased remote cameras used to monitor wildlife crossing points along a 26-mile stretch of I-40 through North Carolina’s elk country.
“North Carolina can be a leader in national efforts to identify and implement wildlife crossing projects to benefit elk and other wildlife. Doing so could improve safety for drivers while also protecting these natural resources that that annually bring millions of tourism-related dollars to local economies in Cherokee, Maggie Valley and Asheville,” added Dobey (third from right in bottom photo).
RMEF has a long history of conservation accomplishment in North Carolina. Since 1995, RMEF and its partners completed 126 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in the state with a combined value of more than $4.9 million. These projects conserved and enhanced 4,860 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 1,925 acres. One of those projects dates back to 2001-2002 when RMEF provided funding support to help successfully restore wild elk to their historic range in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
(Group photo credit: Jerry Greer/National Parks Conservation Association)