Wyoming elk just got a big boost thanks to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF). RMEF recently provided $548,624 in grant funding to “improve elk habitat and research, public access and hunting heritage efforts” in 18 counties across the state. The money will fund 56 projects, which include several statewide and national initiatives, across 11,570 acres in the following counties: Albany, Big Horn, Campbell, Carbon, Converse, Crook, Fremont, Hot Springs, Johnson, Lincoln, Natrona, Niobrara, Park, Sublette, Sweetwater, Teton, Washakie and Weston, according to a press release.
“This is the largest project allocation amount from one state in one year on record. Wyoming may have the smallest population in the United States, but RMEF volunteers in the Cowboy State sure know how to deliver in behalf of elk and elk country,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president, and CEO. “It’s a direct reflection of the hard work and passion of our volunteers. They work tirelessly on their own time to generate these funds that are then put back on the ground in their state to enhance elk and elk habitat.”
With more than 9,100 members and 24 chapters within Wyoming, it’s not surprising that RMEF would provide support and funding for these important projects. According to RMEF, here are a few projects that will be funded through the grant money provided:
In Fremont County: Encroaching conifers that blanket 1,000 acres will be removed in order to improve aspen health and early-seral habitat within 60,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, state and private lands in the South Pass area of the Wind River Range. This project will benefit elk, mule deer, moose and sage grouse that use the area for winter, transition and year-long range as well as calving.
In Sweetwater County: A scientific study will examine the nutritional condition, reproductive success, and diet of adult cow elk and look at survival and cause-specific mortality of calves within the high desert ecosystem of southwest Wyoming.
In Teton County: Torstenson Family Endowment funding will go towards scientific research focused on mapping unknown migration paths of the Targhee elk herd, which is found on the Idaho-Wyoming state border in the Greater Yellowstone Area. Researchers will use GPS collars to determine seasonal habitat use, health, survival and reproduction rates of this specific herd.
Statewide: Funding will go towards supporting Access Yes, a partnership between private landowners and sportsmen and women “to create free, public access for hunting and fishing.” This particular grant will support public access to 48,000 acres.
“Understanding elk behavior, habitat use, and nutritional habitats is key to ensuring a healthy future for elk and other wildlife,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “These Wyoming grants help fund six different research projects ranging from migration studies to better understanding hunter-grizzly interaction.”