Elk NetworkSouth Dakota Receives $454,977 to Improve Elk Habitat, Public Access, Outdoor Programs

News Releases | May 10, 2022

MISSOULA, Mont. — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners allocated $454,977 in 2021 grant funding to enhance wildlife habitat stewardship, expand public access and assist hunting heritage projects in South Dakota. RMEF directly granted $88,167 that leveraged an additional $366,810 in partner dollars.

“We appreciate our partners for helping us restore meadows, treat noxious weeds and improve aspen stands for elk and other wildlife,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “This funding also provides hunter access to nearly 40,000 acres of private land and helps a variety of recreational shooting, archery and other outdoor-related programs.”

There are 17 chapters and nearly 4,000 RMEF members in South Dakota.

“We salute our South Dakota volunteers. It’s thanks to their efforts we can put these funds back on the ground to do so much good,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO.

Since 1990, RMEF and its partners completed 393 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in South Dakota with a combined value of more than $41.2 million. These projects conserved and enhanced 120,433 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 11,472 acres.

Below are 11 projects, listed by county, that benefit 2,375 acres of habitat.

Charles Mix County

  • Provide funding for the Platte Gun Club Trap Team to teach kids how to safely handle firearms and improve shooting skills.

Custer County

  • Remove ponderosa pine and cedar trees encroaching on 636 acres of meadows in the Hell Canyon Ranger District of the Black Hills National Forest to improve grass and forb production on yearlong elk habitat.
  • Provide volunteer manpower to remove three miles of old fencing in Custer State Park and repair two wildlife water guzzlers in the park and two more on the Black Hills National Forest.

Fall River County

  • Provide funding for South Dakota’s Elk Hunting Access Program that expanded access to an additional 39,953 acres of private land in the Blacks Hills during the 2021 elk hunting season (also benefits Bennett, Custer and Pennington Counties).

Lawrence County

  • Enhance 800 acres of aspen stands in the northern Black Hills and prepare 725 acres of understory pine for future prescribed fire in Custer State Park (also benefits Custer County).
  • Treat invasive weeds within a 185-acre inventory unit and assess aspen response within Sawyer Memorial Park, which provides important habitat elk.

Meade County

  • In an ‘all lands’ approach to enhance habitat across multiple landownerships, treat 25 targeted acres of invasive weeds on the Black Hills National Forest and private land that, if untreated, would continue to spread.

Miner County

  • Provide funding for the development of an archery range used by Howard High School students as well as the general public in Howard.

Pennington County

  • Treat invasive weeds across 180 acres of the Black Hills National Forest and private land to improve elk habitat.

Sanborn County

  • Provide funding for the Sanborn County 4-H Shooting Sports program. Participants learn safety and shooting techniques for archery and firearms, including BB gun, air rifle, air pistol, .22 rifle and shotgun (also benefits Beadle and Jerauld Counties).

Yankton County

  • Provide funding for the Yankton High School Trap Team, formed with the help of the Jim River Trap Club for youth ages 14 to 18 to learn about firearm safety and advance their shooting skills.

Project partners include the Black Hills National Forest, Custer State Park, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, and various conservation, civic and small business groups as well as private landowners.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

Founded more than 37 years ago and fueled by hunters, RMEF maintains more than 225,000 members and has conserved nearly 8.4 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.