MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation awarded $276,491 in grant funding toward 15 habitat enhancement and hunting heritage projects in the state of Washington.
The projects positively impact nearly 15,000 acres of wildlife habitat across Asotin, Chelan, Clallam, Columbia, Cowlitz, Garfield, Kittitas, Skamania, Stevens and Yakima Counties.
“Overly thick forest stands and noxious weeds crowd out vital forage for elk and other wildlife. This funding will enhance habitat to a more ideal level,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “Three of these projects will take place on land already permanently protected by RMEF. Two others will be implemented in the same general area of past RMEF conservation work.”
RMEF volunteers raised the funding by hosting banquets, membership drives and other events across the state of Washington.
Here is a sampling of the 2018 projects, listed by county:
Asotin County—Apply prescribed fire treatment across 10,380 acres over several years on the Umatilla National Forest and state lands to improve the health and resiliency of native grasses and shrubs to encourage the redistribution of elk away from private lands in the Blue Mountains while also enhancing elk and mule deer winter range and bighorn sheep habitat (also benefits Garfield County).
Cowlitz County—Plant a diversity of 4,000 shrubs including cottonwood, elderberry, bitter cherry, flowering dogwood and Pacific crabapple across 80 acres on what was formerly a Douglas fir-dominated commercial forest, since permanently protected and opened to public access by RMEF, on the Mount Saint Helens Wildlife Area.
Skamania County—Apply noxious weed treatments across 1,068 acres of meadows in the Mount Adams Ranger District on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest that provide important spring, summer and winter range for the Mount Saint Helens elk herd.
Yakima County—Thin 534 acres and prescribe burn an additional 621 acres on the Oak Creek Wildlife Area to provide high quality habitat for elk and other wildlife (also benefits Kittitas County).
Since 1985, RMEF and its partners completed 628 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Washington with a combined value of more than $121.7 million. These projects protected or enhanced 475,883 acres of habitat and opened or secured public access to 124,991 acres.
Washington project partners include the Gifford Pinchot, Olympic, Umatilla, and Wenatchee National Forests, Bureau of Land Management, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and private landowners as well as various sportsmen, civic and other 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.