Arizona Elk Habitat Gets a Boost

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MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation awarded $212,970 in grant funding for 15 projects that enhance Arizona’s wildlife habitat and hunting heritage.

The grants benefit 7,464 acres across Apache, Coconino, Maricopa, Navajo, Santa Cruz, Yavapai and Yuma Counties. There are also three projects of statewide benefit.

“One of the major issues that threaten quality habitat in the desert Southwest is the invading presence of conifer species which tend to choke out vital native forage for elk and other wildlife. This funding will assist to thwart that spread,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “RMEF also seeks to bolster the next generation of hunters by directing grant funding toward eight Arizona projects that include youth camps, hunts, programs and similar events.”

RMEF volunteers in Arizona generated the funding through chapter banquets, membership drives and other events.

Here is a sampling of the 2017 projects, listed by county:

Apache County—Remove 9,000 yards of silt and re-establish a silt catchment as part of an effort to repair a spring and earthen reservoir about one mile south in Pulcifer Canyon severely impacted in the 2014 San Juan Wildfire to improve water availability for elk, mule deer, waterfowl and other bird and animal life.

Coconino County—Remove encroaching juniper trees across 3,003 acres of private land as part of a landscape-scale project designed to improve connectivity between Anderson Mesa and lower elevation grasslands to the north and enhance range condition and wildlife habitat.

Statewide—Provide funding and volunteer manpower for the second annual Youth Elk Camp by offering to provide meals and education on the role hunting plays in conservation for young hunters and their families.

Go here for a complete project listing.

Since 1986, RMEF and its partners completed 463 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Arizona with a combine value of more than $32.8 million. These projects conserved and enhanced 400,981 acres of habitat and opened or secured public access to 21,585 acres.

Arizona project partners include the Apache-Sitgreaves and Coconino National Forests, Arizona Game and Fish Department, and private landowners as well as sportsmen, government, civic and other organizations.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

Founded over 30 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of more than 220,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 7.1 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 www.rmef.org, elknetwork.com or 800-CALL ELK.

Apache County—Remove 9,000 yards of silt and re-establish a silt catchment as part of an effort to repair a spring and earthen reservoir in Pulcifer Canyon severely impacted in the 2014 San Juan Wildfire to improve water availability for elk, mule deer, waterfowl and other bird and animal life; and provide funding for 2017 and 2018 youth camps that teach novice hunters about archery, predator calling, turkey calling, hunter mentorship, tracking and big game field dressing and handling demonstrations (also benefits Navajo County).

Coconino County—Remove encroaching juniper trees across 3,003 acres of private land as part of a landscape-scale project designed to improve connectivity between Anderson Mesa and lower elevation grasslands to the north and enhance range condition and wildlife habitat; and

thin up to 50 acres to reduce conifer encroachment into rare high elevation aspen and meadow habitat and reduce fuel loads on the Coconino National Forest; prescribe burn 2,011 acres within the Rim Lakes Forest Restoration Project area on the Sitgreaves National Forest to improve habitat for elk, mule deer, turkey, bear and other wildlife; remove encroaching juniper to restore native grassland  across 2,000 acres in the Fossil Creek area on the Coconino National Forest; and provide funding and volunteer manpower to repair damaged fencing and install elk jumps as a benefit for migrating wildlife on private land that is open for hunting.

Maricopa County—Provide funding to offset travel costs for members of the Wickenburg Christian Academy Archery Club for students to take part in the National Archery in the Schools Program’s (NASP) National Tournament in Kentucky.

Navajo County – Provide funding to assist White Mountain Clay Busters youth shooting team with competition expenses including entry fees.

Santa Cruz County—Provide funding for the Peloncillo 4-H Club in Sonoita to offset the cost of ammunition, targets, safety equipment and other supplies for a program that offers a safe environment for learning the responsible use of firearms and archery equipment while promoting safety, sportsmanship and ethical behavior.

Yavapai County—Provide funding for the YMCA Sportsman’s Camp in Prescott and Mayer which offers education to youth age 12 to 16 years to learn archery, rifle shooting and sporting clays, fishing, high ropes and outdoor survival skills (also benefits Coconino and Maricopa Counties).

Yuma County—Provide funding for the Yuma Young Guns Scholastic Clay Target Program which introduces young men and women to the sport of skeet shooting with an emphasis on gun safety and sportsmanship.

Statewide—Provide funding and volunteer manpower for the annual Youth Elk Camp, held in conjunction with the Unit 1 and 2C Youth Only Elk Hunt, by offering to provide meals and education on the role hunting plays in conservation for young hunters and their families; provide funding for the Yuma Valley Rod and Gun Club’s 2017 Youth Small Game Camp which offers the fundamentals of ethical hunting, wildlife identification, good sportsmanship, hunter safety and conservation; and provide funding for the Ken Middleton Memorial Youth Pheasant Hunt which offers proper gun safety instruction, practice at a sporting clay range and pairs youth with an experienced hunter and a trained dog.