Grants Enhance New Mexico Elk Habitat, Hunting Heritage

In RMEF at Work by RMEF4 Comments

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation awarded $107,605 in grant funding toward 19 habitat stewardship and hunting heritage projects in New Mexico.

The grants benefit 4,670 acres across Bernalillo, Catron, Curry, Grant, Lincoln, Otero, Roosevelt, San Juan, San Miguel and Torrance Counties. There are also two projects of statewide benefit and another that benefits northeast Arizona.

“Water is at a high premium across New Mexico’s arid landscape,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “Nearly a third of our projects this year focus on improving water sources for elk and other wildlife.”

RMEF members in New Mexico raised the funds via banquets, membership drives and other efforts.

Since 1985, RMEF and its partners completed 374 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in New Mexico with a combined value of more than $42.9 million. These projects conserved and enhanced 512,691 acres of habitat and opened or secured public access to 88,958 acres.

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

Catron County—Mechanically treat 350 acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) managed land in the Coyote Peak area in preparation for a future prescribed burn as part of a multi-year effort to maintain and enhance elk and mule deer across the Pelona Mountain Landscape

Grant County—Prescribe burn 320 acres in the Mimbres Valley to remove encroaching pinyon-juniper as part of an ongoing effort to reintroduce and maintain fire on the landscape and benefit wildlife habitat across the Gila National Forest.

Lincoln County—Create four small wetlands and expand another to benefit 800 acres in the Smokey Bear Ranger District on the Lincoln National Forest as well as construct a fence around each to limit the use to wildlife in an area where the elk population tripled over the last ten years.

Below is a complete listing of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s 2017 grants for the state of New Mexico. Find more information here.

Bernalillo County—Provide funding for the New Mexico High School Clay Target Association which provides youth grades six through 12 an opportunity to learn about shooting sports, safety, fun and marksmanship; and provide funding for the Eldorado High School Junior Officers’ Training Corp which travels to participate in various competitions.

Catron County—Mechanically treat 350 acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) managed land in the Coyote Peak area in preparation for a future prescribed burn as part of a multi-year effort to maintain and enhance elk and mule deer across the Pelona Mountain Landscape; convert the Cold Springs well, that serves two wildlife-livestock drinkers in the Reserve Ranger District on the Gila National Forest, from a gas-powered generator system to a solar system to provide water year-round, reduce fuel use and potential spillage, and improve grazing distribution; and replace an existing 2,200-gallon metal catchment and drinker with two 1,800-gallon tank catchment and storage units plus replace the existing livestock exclosure around these water sources to benefit wildlife on BLM managed land in the Pelona Mountain Landscape Project. .

Curry County—Provide funding for an archery program for students in grades four through 12 at Clovis Christian Schools; and provide funding for the 4P Gun Club Youth Trap Shooting Team in Melrose that gives youth grades five to 12 an opportunity to participate in shooting sports through the New Mexico High School Clay Target Association (also benefits Roosevelt County).

Grant County—Prescribe burn 320 acres in the Mimbres Valley to remove encroaching pinyon-juniper as part of an ongoing effort to reintroduce and maintain fire on the landscape and benefit wildlife habitat across the Gila National Forest.

Lincoln County—Create four small wetlands and expand another to benefit 800 acres in the Smokey Bear Ranger District on the Lincoln National Forest as well as construct a fence around each to limit the use to wildlife in an area where the elk population tripled over the last ten years; and extend a pipeline 1.75 miles to connect it to a working pipeline and install two 5,000-gallon storage tanks to provide for year-round wildlife water needs in Lone Mountain Canyon in the Smokey Ranger District on the Lincoln National Forest.

Otero County—Replace a non-functioning storage tank and drinker in La Luz Canyon on the Lincoln National Forest in an area where the elk population has increased following recent vegetative improvements.

San Juan County—Provide funding for a youth sports festival in Farmington designed to introduce youth age 8-18 to the shooting sports and the principles of wildlife conservation; and provide funding for the Aztec Tiger Shotgun Team, a middle and high school trap shooting team comprised of 7th to 12th graders from Aztec, Farmington, Bloomfield and homeschool students.

San Miguel County—Provide volunteer manpower for an Earth Day celebration in the Santa Fe National Forest for students to learn about conservation, habitat, elk and elk antlers, and elk calling techniques.

Torrance County—Provide volunteer manpower to remove a pond liner and submerged water storage tank and replace it with a 5,000-gallon tank with umbrella wings to catch water for wildlife on the Cibola National Forest.

Northern New Mexico—Provide funding and volunteer manpower for the Northern New Mexico Youth Clay Challenge, hosted by Los Alamos 4-H, which gives youth statewide an opportunity to compete in multiple shooting events at no cost.

Northwest New Mexico—Provide funding for the Navajo Nation Annual Youth Deer Hunt in Wheatfields Lake, Arizona, which introduces youth to hunting who otherwise have no such opportunity. Participants must pass a hunter education class and are paired with a mentor (also benefits northeast Arizona).

Statewide—Provide funding for the Socorro Gun Club’s small-bore rifle clinic at the Captain Rifle Range in Captain where students ages ten and up learn the fundamental principles and techniques of prone and 3-position, .and 22 rifle shooting to enhance their shooting skills and prepare for competition; and provide Torstenson Family Endowment (TFE) funds for 1,990 hunter orange safety vests for graduates of the New Mexico Game and Fish Hunter Education program.

RMEF uses TFE funding solely to further its core mission programs of permanent land protection, habitat stewardship, elk restoration and hunting heritage.