MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation awarded $233,373 in grant funding for nearly two dozen conservation projects in Washington that enhance wildlife habitat, assist research and promote hunting heritage.
The grants benefit 4,966 acres across Asotin, Clallam, Chelan, Columbia, Cowlitz, Douglas, Ferry, Garfield, Grant, King, Pierce, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Skamania, Snohomish and Yakima Counties. There are also two projects of statewide benefit.
“Forest management techniques like thinning, prescribed burning and noxious weed treatments improve habitat in Washington for elk and many other species,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “This grant funding will help with those efforts and supply research dollars to benefit elk management.”
Since 1985, RMEF and its partners completed 621 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Washington with a combined value of more than $121.5 million. These projects conserved and enhanced 471,547 acres of habitat and opened or secured public access to 125,245 acres.
Here is a sampling of the 2017 projects, listed by county:
Asotin County—Apply noxious weed treatment across 700 acres on the W. T. Wooten and Chief Joseph Wildlife Areas within the Blue Mountains Wildlife Area Complex to keep weeds in check on year-long elk range (also benefits Garfield and Columbia Counties).
Clallam County—Thin 203 acres of elk summer range in the Upper Sitkum Watershed on the Olympic National Forest where overly dense forests led to documented low body condition scores for elk as well as downward trends in pregnancy rates.
King County—Provide funding to acquire one new GPS collar and refurbish four others for a study to determine if elk are using new habitat areas created by the Snoqualmie Valley Elk Management Group as well as determine a better herd population estimate and seed 50 acres of a newly cleared area in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains.
Yakima County—Apply prescribed fire to 300 acres on the Oak Creek Wildlife Area as part of a larger, wide-scale effort to benefit wildlife by rejuvenating native grasses, forbs and shrubs as well as mitigating wildfire hazards.
Washington project partners include the Colville, Gifford Pinchot and Olympic National Forests, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 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, elknetwork.com or 800-CALL ELK. Take action: join and/or donate.
Chelan County—Provide funding for the North Central Washington Youth Hunting and Fishing Day in East Wenatchee that offers instruction to youth about firearm safety, archery, fishing and the identification of wildlife, fish species and their habitats (also benefits Douglas County).
Clallam County— Thin 203 acres of elk summer range in the Upper Sitkum Watershed on the Olympic National Forest where overly dense forests led to documented low body condition scores for elk as well as downward trends in pregnancy rates.
Cowlitz County—Apply lime and fertilizer treatments followed by tree, shrub and grass seeding across 200 acres on the Mount St. Helens Wildlife Area within the Toutle River Valley to stabilize the riverbank and enhance riparian corridors and adjacent foraging areas; provide volunteer manpower for the Earth Day Celebration organized by the city of Longview Parks and Recreation that offers education to kids and their parents about the outdoors and nature; and provide volunteer manpower to assist wildlife managers in the search for winter elk mortalities within the Mount St. Helens Wildlife Area.
Ferry County—Prescribe burn 714 acres as part of the Kettle Face project to reduce browse competition by killing smaller diameter trees and fuel-loading to prevent catastrophic wildfire in the area in the Three Rivers Ranger District on the Colville National Forest; and prescribe burn 1,455 acres of overstocked and dense conifer stands with decadent, unpalatable browse in the South Sherman area on the Colville National Forest to improve conditions on big game winter and summer range.
Garfield County—Thin, pile and burn or masticate 54 acres of dense, small trees on the Weatherly Unit of the Asotin Creek Wildlife Area leaving a mosaic of well-spaced clumps, individuals and openings on 54 acres of winter range for elk.
Grant County—Provide funding for the Endeavor Middle School’s National Archery in the Schools Program in Moses Lake that offers instruction in archery skills and team-building.
King County— Provide funding to acquire one new GPS collar and refurbish four others for a study to determine if elk are using new habitat areas created by the Snoqualmie Valley Elk Management Group as well as determine a better herd population estimate and seed 50 acres of a newly cleared area in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains.; and provide funding for the Renton Fish and Game Club Crushers Scholastic Clay Target Program that teaches youth about the safe handling of firearms while developing team building skills through the shotgun clay target sports (also benefits Pierce and Snohomish Counties); and offer funding and volunteer manpower for an introductory trap and archery shooting event at the Renton Fish and Game Club.
Okanogan County—Provide funding for the Bonaparte Lake Kid’s Fishing Derby as a means to introduce youth to fishing and outdoors conservation (also benefits Ferry County).
Pend Oreille County—Prescribe burn 300 acres in the Ruby Creek watershed on the Colville National Forest to thin dense patches of young conifer and rejuvenate forbs and shrubs in an area that historically supported open timber stands with a brush and grass understory.
Skamania County—Apply noxious weed treatment across 125 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 St. Helens elk herd.
Yakima County— Apply prescribed fire to 300 acres on the Oak Creek Wildlife Area as part of a larger, wide-scale effort to benefit wildlife by rejuvenating native grasses, forbs and shrubs as well as mitigating wildfire hazards.
Statewide—Provide scholarship funding for the Washington State Conservation Camp that teaches youth, ages 12 to 16, about the outdoors and conservation and provides them hands-on experience and knowledge including instruction in wildlife and fisheries management, forestry, ecology, water safety, fly tying, fly casting, marksmanship, hunter safety, survival class, first aid and CPR; provide funding for the Washington Outdoor Women gathering in North Bend as a way to motivate women and empower them to get out into the outdoors by offering classes about hunting and tracking, archery, fly fishing and fly tying, map and compass, Dutch oven cooking, and many more; and provide funding for Salmon for Soldiers, an event where soldiers and veterans take part in a free fishing trip with volunteer boats, skippers and crews.