Montana Elk Habitat, Research Bolstered by RMEF Grants

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MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation awarded $414,800 in grant funding to assist habitat stewardship, hunting heritage and research projects across Montana.

“There are many landscapes in Montana in need of active forest management. These grants will improve overall forest health while enhancing habitat for elk and a wide range of other wildlife species,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “Additional funding will assist with research and hunting heritage programs.”

Twenty-seven projects benefit 20,743 acres across Carbon, Custer, Beaverhead, Broadwater, Deer Lodge, Fergus, Flathead, Golden Valley, Granite, Jefferson, Lincoln, Mineral, Missoula, Petroleum, Powell, Ravalli, Sanders, Silver Bow, Stillwater and Wheatland Counties. Four projects are of statewide benefit while another is of nationwide benefit.

RMEF volunteers in Montana raised the grant funding by hosting banquets, membership drives and other events.

Since 1985, RMEF and its partners completed 943 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Montana with a combined value of more than $159.5 million. These projects conserved or enhanced 812,628 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 289,532 acres.

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

Fergus County—Thin 330 acres of unnaturally dense ponderosa pine stands in the Little Snowy Mountains on the Lewis and Clark National Forest as part of a multi-year effort to restore and enhance year-round elk habitat covering more than 4,000 acres (also benefits Golden Valley County).

Granite County—Remove three miles of barbed-wire fencing and apply noxious weed treatment to 200 acres of property recently protected with RMEF’s assistance on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest to benefit migration and habitat for more than 500 elk as well as moose, deer and other wildlife.

Missoula County—Prescribe burn 1,157 acres of beetle-kill lodgepole pine forests in the Chamberlain-Wales watershed on BLM land within the southwest Crown of the Continent to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire and maintain and enhance habitat for elk, deer, moose, Canada lynx and grizzly bear and many other species.

Statewide—Provide funding for ongoing targeted elk brucellosis surveillance and research designed to 1) Determine presence or absence of brucellosis in elk beyond the Designated Surveillance Area; 2) Develop a model to quantify actual elk to livestock transmission risk to understand factors driving variation in level of risk; 3) Quantify the effectiveness of various management actions toward reducing risk of elk-cattle brucellosis transmission; and 4) Complete the ongoing epidemiology portion of the initial targeted brucellosis project.

Montana project partners include the Beaverhead-Deerlodge, Bitterroot, Custer Gallatin, Helena, Lewis and Clark, Kootenai and Lolo National Forests, Bureau of Land Management, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, 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 or 800-CALL ELK. Take action: join and/or donate.