Wyoming

RMEF Grants Benefit Wyoming Habitat, Research, Public Access

In RMEF at Work by RMEF Comments

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation awarded $314,629 in grant funding to assist with elk research, habitat enhancement, permanent land protection and improving public access in Wyoming.

The grants benefit 42,586 acres across Albany, Big Horn, Campbell, Carbon, Converse, Fremont, Johnson, Hot Springs, Lincoln, Park, Sheridan, Sublette, Sweetwater, Teton and Washakie Counties. There is also one project of statewide benefit.

“Critical research will aid wildlife managers in learning more about elk populations, their forage needs and the importance of both public and private land in migratory patterns within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “RMEF funding will also assist with a wide range of habitat enhancement work and in bolstering public access efforts.”

Since 1986, RMEF and its partners completed 668 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Wyoming with a combined value of more than $129.6 million. These projects conserved or enhanced 1,105,360 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 151,548 acres.

RMEF volunteers in Wyoming raised the grant funding by carrying out banquets, membership drives and other events.

Here is a sampling of highlighted projects, listed by county:

Carbon County—Enhance 11,278 acres of critical winter range and summer range for elk and mule deer near Baggs via noxious weed treatment, removal of encroaching junipers, thinning serviceberry and removal of sagebrush from aspen stands in an area used by 3,000 mule deer.

Park County—Provide additional funding for a multi-year migration study that follows elk from low-elevation winter ranges on the east and southern slopes of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to high-elevation summer ranges mostly within Yellowstone National Park with its findings expected to guide future on-the-ground conservation efforts (also benefits Teton and Fremont Counties).

Sublette County—Provide funding for a conservation easement on the Hoback Rim in northern Sublette County bordering the Bridger-Teton National Forest and an existing RMEF conservation easement thus protecting vital wildlife habitat.

Sweetwater County—Provide funding to assist with the capture and collaring of elk calves as an extension of the Deer-Elk Ecology Research Project that began in 2015 to determine why elk populations are growing in southwest Wyoming while mule deer populations are struggling.

Statewide—Continue sponsorship of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Access Yes Program that seeks to secure access for hunters and anglers to private lands across the state.

Wyoming project partners include the Bighorn, Bridger-Teton, Medicine Bow and Shoshone National Forests, Bureau of Land Management, Wyoming Game and Fish Department and private landowners as well as sportsmen, government, civic, universities 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.

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

Albany County—Remove and convert seven miles of boundary fencing to wildlife-friendly specifications within the Forbes-Sheep Mountain Wildlife Habitat Management Area which benefits approximately 600 elk and 500 deer on the western end of Sheep Mountain as the first of a multi-phase habitat improvement project.

Big Horn County—Apply a mixture of aerial and hand-ignition prescribed burning to 2,400 acres in sagebrush and conifer habitats across the Bighorn National Forest to improve forage on big game winter, summer and transitional ranges (also benefits Sheridan and Johnson Counties); apply conifer treatment, prescribed fire and noxious weed treatments across 430 acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land to enhance sagebrush steppe  habitat on the west slope of the Bighorn Mountains; and apply noxious weed treatment via backpack and horseback spraying on 1,500 difficult-to-reach acres with elk calving areas and winter range on the Bighorn National Forest (also benefits Washakie County).

Campbell County—Control cheatgrass across 1,223 acres of BLM land within crucial winter and calving range for the Fortification elk herd (also benefits Johnson County).

Carbon County—Enhance 11,278 acres of critical winter range and summer range for elk and mule deer near Baggs via noxious weed treatment, removal of encroaching junipers, thinning serviceberry and removal of sagebrush from aspen stands in an area used by 3,000 mule deer; prescribe burn 3,400 acres of BLM land to improve aspen regeneration while enhancing elk calving areas as well as forage and cover;;  install four guzzlers to provide wildlife water sources across portions of  Ferris Mountain on BLM land; and improve riparian and associated upland habitat on BLM lands in the Platte Valley. Four to six springs/seeps will be developed and fenced and off-site water drinkers will be installed to minimize livestock impacts to riparian areas. Twenty-six miles of fencing will also be converted to wildlife-friendly specifications to ease wildlife movement.

Converse County—Remove encroaching conifers from 238 acres of aspen stands and meadows in the North Laramie Range on the Medicine Bow National Forest to benefit wildlife habitat (also benefits Albany County).

Freemont County—Provide funding for research to document key migration corridors and accumulate data on the rate of brucellosis infection, pregnancy, survival and calving on the Wind River Reservation where upwards of 10,000 elk spend the winter (also benefits Hot Springs, Sublette and Park Counties).

Johnson County—Remove encroaching conifers followed by prescribed burn treatment to restore 70 acres of crucial elk winter range meadow habitat on Gardner Mountain as a first phase of a large-scale, five to ten-year project encompassing 13,707 acres on BLM, state and private lands.

Lincoln County—Apply noxious weed treatment including herbicide, hand-pulling and biological control methods across 410 acres along roads and trails, within campgrounds and in backcountry areas across the Greys River Ranger District on the Bridger-Teton National Forest to benefit forage and range for elk, moose, mule deer, sage grouse and other wildlife.

Park County—Provide additional funding for a multi-year migration study that follows elk from low-elevation winter ranges on the east and southern slopes of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to high-elevation summer ranges mostly within Yellowstone National Park with its findings expected to guide future on-the-ground conservation efforts (also benefits Teton and Fremont Counties); provide funding for continuing research to understand the prevalence of brucellosis and movement patterns of elk in the Greybull River Basin and Bighorn Mountains (also benefits Big Horn, Sheridan, Washakie and Johnson Counties); remove encroaching conifers from 600 of crucial winter range for elk, bighorn sheep, mule deer and moose in the South Fork of the Shoshone River drainage below Cabin Creek on the Shoshone National Forest; and install new catchment aprons and pipelines on three water guzzlers to benefit 1,902 acres on Rattlesnake Mountain on BLM land to benefit wildlife; and update the Sunlight Wildlife Habitat Management Area’s irrigation system to maximize forage availability across 250 acres for wintering elk.

Sheridan County—Provide funding for radio collars and trail cameras as part of research to address browsing interactions among elk, moose and cattle in the Bighorn Mountains on the Bighorn National Forest to assist managers in managing wildlife populations and livestock grazing allotments as well as determining harvest levels (also benefits Johnson, Washakie and Big Horn Counties); and thin 146 acres of aspen stands followed by stacking and burning of piles to decrease browse pressure and encourage aspen regeneration on state land on Pasture Creek

Sublette County—Provide funding for a conservation easement on the Hoback Rim in northern Sublette County bordering the Bridger-Teton National Forest  and an existing RMEF conservation easement thus protecting vital wildlife habitat; prescribe burn 613 acres of BLM land that serves as important elk habitat on the east slope of the Wyoming Range to improve wildlife habitat, reduce hazardous fuel, and to stimulate aspen regeneration; and thin conifer to improve aspen regeneration followed by prescribed fire treatment on 940 acres that serve as transitional habitat for elk on the Bridger-Teton National Forest.

Sweetwater County—Provide funding to assist with the capture and collaring of elk calves as an extension of Deer-Elk Ecology Research Project that began in 2015 to determine why elk populations are growing in southwest Wyoming while mule deer populations are struggling.

Teton County—Remove 6,500 feet of old fencing near Alta and replace it with 1.23 miles of wildlife-friendly pole-top fencing so wildlife can cross without injury while also assisting with neighboring livestock management; spray 15,000 acres with herbicide to offset noxious weed invasion in the Gros Ventre Range on the Bridger-Teton National Forest where the Cliff Creek Wildfire burned in 2016 as a benefit for elk, moose, mule deer and pronghorn habitat (also benefits Sublette County); provide funding to assess how fire severity affects plant nutrition and ungulate movement within the 34,000-acre Cliff Creek Wildfire area in the Gros Ventre Range (also benefits Sublette County); and treat scattered noxious weed  infestations on 40 acres in the Jackson Hole area  to benefit elk, bighorn sheep, moose, mule deer, bison, grizzly bear, sage grouse and other animal and fish species within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Washakie County—Remove approximately five miles of woven wire fencing and replace it with wildlife-friendly fencing within the Tensleep Preserve in the Bighorn Mountains to benefit elk migration in an area that is also winter and year-long range for elk, mule deer, pronghorn and sage grouse.

Statewide—Continue sponsorship of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Access Yes Program that seeks to secure access for hunters and anglers to private lands across the state.