MISSOULA, Mont.-Drawing funds from local as well as national coffers, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has committed $150,000 in support for wildfire mitigation measures in Arizona.

The RMEF funding is a response to two emergency proposals from the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD).

One project will supply livestock feed and hay to private landowners whose cattle, sheep and horse pastures are now being grazed by unusual concentrations of displaced elk. Separating and feeding the livestock will reduce conflicts with wildlife. Soon, summer monsoons should allow burned forestlands to green up and elk to naturally disperse back to native habitat.

A second project will supplement an initiative to re-seed native grasses in severely burned areas. RMEF funding will ensure that seed stocks include native browse plants used by deer and other wildlife. Re-seeding will speed recovery of the habitat.

RMEF Chairman of the Board John Caid, who manages conservation and hunt programs at White Mountain Apache Reservation, said, “The good news is, much of this region’s elk habitat, with assistance from all of us, will be well on the way to recovery in a few weeks. Within three years, Arizonans can expect very good forage quality and, in turn, elk calf production.”

Caid said local RMEF chapters in Arizona raised and committed $75,000, which has been matched by funds from RMEF national.

In e-mailing the mitigation proposals, AZGFD region manager Jon Cooley wrote, “Working through both local and national representatives, RMEF has been providing constant coordination, support and encouragement as we address the myriad of community and wildlife resource challenges that we now confront. The leadership and engagement of RMEF, and the energy and commitment of the RMEF people that have coordinated with us from the start, has proven to be very beneficial and productive.”

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

Snowy peaks, dark timber basins and grassy meadows. RMEF is leading an elk country initiative that has conserved or enhanced habitat on over 5.9 million acres-a land area equivalent to a swath three miles wide and stretching along the entire Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico. RMEF also works to open, secure and improve public access for hunting, fishing and other recreation. Get involved at www.rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.

Steve Wagner, Blue Heron Communications, 800-654-3766, steve@blueheroncomm.com.

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