Grant Funding to Go Toward Improving Elk Habitat
by Gus Jarvis
Jul 30, 2012 | 1281 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print

WESTERN SLOPE – Montrose, Gunnison and San Miguel counties are three of 19 Colorado counties where 2012 Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation grant funding will be used on projects to rejuvenate and restore elk habitat being invaded by noxious weeds.

A total of $262,232 in funding is being given by the RMEF in areas throughout Colorado. This year’s habitat rehabilitation efforts include noxious weed management, the encroachment of piñon/juniper on elk habitat, prescribed burns and mitigating the effects of oil and gas development on habitat.

In Montrose County, RMEF spokesman Steve Wagner says $15,000 in grant money will be used to thin piñon/juniper encroachment and for prescribed burns to rejuvenate forage for elk and deer on 750 acres of land in the Monitor Mesa area of the Uncompahgre National Forest. Those funds will also be used to treat 1,250 acres of noxious sulphur cinquefoil weeds in the Copper King area of the Uncompahgre National Forest.

In Gunnison County, Wagner says $17,081 will fund a prescribed burn of 208 acres of land to enhance habitat for foraging elk in the Sapinero Mesa and Dutch Gulch areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The funding will also go toward the decommissioning and rehabilitation of unnecessary roads in the Sugar Creek area as well as providing a sponsorship for the Gunnison Fishing and Outdoor Sports Derby. The funding will also sponsor the Gunnison Middle School National Archery in schools program.

Both of the conservation projects in Gunnison County are in partnership with the BLM Gunnison Field office, while the education projects are in partnership with the City of Gunnison and Gunnison Middle School.

In San Miguel County, at total of $15,000 in RMEF grant funding will be used to close and rehabilitate non-system, user-created roads to improve habitat for elk, turkey and sage grouse in the East Naturita Division of the Norwood Ranger District portion of the Uncompahgre National Forest.

Sponsorship funding for the Outdoor Heritage Day in Delta is also being provided by the organization to engage youth in wildlife, conservation and shooting.

“Prescribed burning, forest thinning and weed treatment projects will help enhance some 9,000 acres of elk habitat across Colorado,” said RMEF President and CEO David Allen. “We’re also investing in different research projects to improve elk population estimates, management strategies and potential impacts from oil and gas development.”

Funding for RMEF grants is based on local membership drives and banquet fundraising by RMEF chapters and volunteers in Colorado.

RMEF’s mission is to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife and their habitat. Since 1985, the organization and its partners have completed 560 conservation and hunting-heritage outreach projects in Colorado with a combined value of more than $128.9 million.

Other statewide and regional RMEF initiatives include funding for a northwestern U.S. study to synthesize data from seven states to improve elk management models against factors such as habitat changes, predators and weather patterns.

Conservation 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. RMEF staff and volunteers select hunting heritage projects to receive grants. or @GusJarvis

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