Grant Funding Benefits Elk Habitat, Research, Public Access in South Dakota

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MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation provided nearly $114,000 in grant funding to improve elk habitat and scientific research in South Dakota as well as a wide range of hunting heritage and other outdoor-related activities.

“Water is at a premium across the lower portion of South Dakota. This funding is helping to establish a wide-ranging pipeline project to improve more than 15,400 acres of habitat,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “It also goes toward a multi-year research effort monitoring cow elk survival plus it assists various other projects designed to enhance habitat for elk and other wildlife.”

The 2018 grants helped pay for 25 projects across Aurora, Beadle, Brule, Buffalo, Charles Mix, Custer, Fall River, Jerauld, Lake, Lawrence, Meade, Pennington, Sanborn, Tripp and Yankton Counties.

South Dakota is home to more than 4,200 RMEF members and 18 chapters.

“We are so grateful for our volunteers and all the hard work they put in,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “Not only do they raise these funds that go back on the ground in South Dakota, but they took part in a number of different hands-on projects that improve water sources for elk and other wildlife. They truly are committed to our conservation mission.”

Since 1990, RMEF and its partners completed 324 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in South Dakota with a combined value of more than $37.2 million. These projects protected or enhanced 102,013 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 11,472 acres.

Here is a sampling of the 2018 projects, listed by county:

Custer County

  • Provide funding to monitor cow elk survival and mortality in the Black Hills. The funds help replace 50 collars during the winter of 2018-19 which help managers monitor the animals during calving season and during other times of the year (also benefits Lawrence and Pennington Counties).

Fall River County

  • Provide funding to expand the South Dakota Elk Hunting Access Program to an estimated 27,000 acres of privately-owned land in the southern Black Hills during the 2018 hunting season. The program enhances hunting opportunities and success rates while improving landowner tolerance for having elk on their property and assisting them with depredation concerns (also benefits Custer, Lawrence, Meade and Pennington, Counties).

Lawrence County

  • Provide funding to construct nine miles of pipeline, ten stock tanks, three water storage tanks and two wildlife water guzzlers across approximately 15,000 acres of rangeland on the Black Hills National Forest. The goal is to improve forage through improved grazing distribution, including livestock, and provide reliable water sources for wildlife to encourage elk to use public lands.

See below for a full listing of the 2018 RMEF projects in South Dakota.

South Dakota 2018 project partners include the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Black Hills National Forest, private landowners and various sportsmen, civic and business organizations.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

Founded over 30 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of nearly 235,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 7.4 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 www.rmef.org, elknetwork.com or 800-CALL ELK.