MISSOULA, Mont. — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners allocated $1,311,336 of grant funding in Colorado to benefit wildlife habitat and scientific research. RMEF contributed $167,562 and leveraged an additional $1,143,774 in partner dollars.
Ten projects will benefit Clear Creek, Costilla, Delta, Eagle, Garfield, Grand, Gunnison, Jackson, Las Animas, Mesa, Moffat, Montrose, Ouray, Pitkin, Rio Grande, Routt, San Miguel and Saguache Counties.
“We appreciate our state, federal and other partners who join us in seeing the importance of aspen restoration, invasive weed treatment, the installation of new wildlife water resources and other habitat enhancement work,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “There are also various important studies that will assist wildlife managers to learn more and better manage elk herds.”
“It’s important to highlight that our volunteers spend a lot of time and are devoted to raising these funds by hosting banquets, membership drives and other activities. We are grateful for all they do,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO.
There are more than 16,000 members and 30 chapters in Colorado.
Dating back to 1987, RMEF and its partners completed 807 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Colorado with a combined value of more than $183 million. These projects protected or enhanced 471,699 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 122,107 acres.
Below is a list of Colorado’s 2021 projects, shown by county.
Clear Creek County
- Treat 26 to 30 acres of elk habitat on Mount Evans State Wildlife Area previously treated 20 years ago but now has overly thick stands and decadent aspen. The SWA provides quality opportunity for elk hunters.
- Treat 100 acres of over-mature aspen habitat in the Paonia Ranger District on the Gunnison National Forest to encourage root suckering and stand regeneration. Elk, moose, mule deer and other wildlife favor aspen stands for forage (also benefits Gunnison County).
- Provide funding to help purchase supplies and materials to construct and install five wildlife water guzzlers across 4,500acres of the Garfield Creek State Wildlife Area, the lower portion of which serves as important elk winter range. The area is also home to wild turkey, mule deer and other wildlife.
- Provide funding for a contractor to treat invasive weeds across 475 acres of backcountry in the Sulphur Ranger District on the Arapaho National Forest.
- Treat 200 acres of invasive cheatgrass in the Gunnison Ranger District within the Almont Triangle area that serves as winter and transitional range for elk and bighorn sheep.
- Provide funding for a study utilizing GPS satellite radio collars to determine elk distribution on the landscape and how they are affected by human activity, grazing, recreation, travel management, hunting, climate conditions, habitat succession and other factors. Information gathered will assist with future elk management (also benefits Saguache County).
Las Animas County
- Treat 70 acres of overstocked forestland on the Bosque del Oso State Wildlife Area within the Upper Purgatoire River watershed that RMEF originally helped the state acquire. The resulting habitat enhancement work will promote understory growth and forage production and create a mosaic of forest structure.
- Use prescribed fire and mechanical mastication treatments across 4,459 acres on Uncompahgre National Forest, Bureau of Land Management and private lands in the Baldy Mountain area to enhance wildlife habitat and reduce fuel loads and the risk of large-scale wildfires. The project also includes development of a spring to feed wildlife water resources.
Rio Grande County
- Remove encroaching pinyon-juniper across 560 acres in the Wolf Mountain area on the Rio Grande National Forest that serves as important winter range for elk and mule deer as well as prime habitat for wild turkey, moose, black bears and mountain lions. The habitat work takes place 20 years after initial treatment, also with RMEF funding assistance, to maintain a healthy grass, forb and shrub vegetation component.
- Provide funding to continue studies assessing the health of elk herds, estimating calf survival and evaluating the influence of human recreation on elk (also benefits Costilla Eagle, Garfield, Grand, Gunnison, Jackson, Las Animas, Mesa, Moffat, Montrose, Ouray, Pitkin and San Miguel Counties).
Project partners include the Arapaho & Roosevelt, and Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison, and Rio Grande National Forests, Bureau of Land Management, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and other federal, state and conservation agencies and groups.
RMEF plans to allocate additional project funding later in the year.
About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Founded more than 37 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of more than 231,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 8.1 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.