MISSOULA, Mont.— The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and our partners awarded $409,364 of grant funding in North Carolina to further elk-related science and enhance elk habitat. RMEF directly granted $57,124 and leveraged an additional $352,240 in partner funding for the conservation work.
“Elk in and around Great Smoky National Park face some unique challenges,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “This grant funding will help biologists and researchers gain a better understanding of their migration movements, habitat use and the approximate size of the regional herd. It will also go toward improving overall wildlife habitat.”
Seven different projects benefit Buncombe, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Madison, Swain, Transylvania and Yancy Counties. There is also one project of statewide benefit and another of nationwide benefit.
“We greatly appreciate our volunteers who raised this vital funding by hosting banquets, membership drives and other events across North Carolina,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “Without them, none of this money would be available to be put back on the ground.”
There are more than 3,000 RMEF members and nine chapters in North Carolina.
Since 1995, RMEF and its partners completed 107 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in North Carolina with a combined value of more than $3.9 million. These projects protected or enhanced 3,719 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 1,925 acres.
Below is a sampling of RMEF’s 2019 North Carolina projects, listed by county.
- Provide funding for an 80 camera trap collaborative study examining wildlife connectivity along Interstate 40 in the Pigeon River Gorge of western North Carolina. Information gathered will better identify locations of elk-vehicle collisions and determine potential locations for wildlife overpasses or underpasses to improve safe passage for elk and black bears.
- Create 14 acres of new forage openings within mature hardwood forests on William H. Silver Game Land to be maintained as early seral habitat to benefit elk and other wildlife.
- Maintain 45 acres of wildlife forage openings via cutting, mowing, seeding and noxious weed treatments on tribal lands to attract elk away from developed areas (also benefits Graham, Haywood and Jackson Counties).
North Carolina project partners include the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and other business, conservation, sportsmen and business groups.
About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Founded 35 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of nearly 235,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 7.5 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 rmef.org, elknetwork.com or 800-CALL ELK.