Elk need food and water. Improving habitat to provide both is the main theme in a list of New Mexico conservation projects slated to receive 2012 grants from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
The RMEF funding commitment totals $77,500 and affects seven counties: Catron, Lincoln, Mora, Otero, Sandoval, Socorro and Rio Arriba.
David Allen, RMEF president and CEO, said, “Prescribe burning to re-start plant succession and promote tender new growth, removing encroaching pinyon and juniper to make room for new grasses and shrubs, and improving several guzzlers will give elk in New Mexico a projected 6,778 acres of new places to eat and drink.”
RMEF’s mission is to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife and their habitat. Since 1985, the organization and its partners have completed 270 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in New Mexico with a combined value of more than $21.2 million.
Funding for RMEF grants is based on local membership drives and banquet fundraising by RMEF chapters and volunteers in New Mexico. Allen thanked RMEF supporters for their dedication to conservation both in New Mexico and all across elk country.
RMEF grants will help fund the following 2012 projects in New Mexico, listed by county:
Catron County—Prescribe burn 3,000 acres to improve timber stands, remove fuel accumulations and enhance forage for elk in the Eckleberger/Sheep Basin area of the Gila National Forest.
Lincoln County—Install two additional guzzlers and repair lines and valves to improve habitat and reduce elk crossing Hwy. 70 to access private livestock tanks in the Rusty Barrel area of the Lincoln National Forest; remove ponderosa pine and pinyon/juniper then prescribe burn to improve 467 acres of habitat in the Slaughter Mesa area of the Gila National Forest.
Mora County—Restore riparian and wet meadow areas to improve habitat for a regional herds of elk and deer and other wildlife near Wagon Mound, N.M.
Otero County—Replace an existing guzzler in the Dry Burnt area, and relocate the old guzzler to a new area, to improve two water sources for elk and other wildlife in the Lincoln National Forest.
Sandoval County—Replace 15 miles of old barbed and woven-wire fencing with wildlife-friendly fencing to reduce mortality on elk, especially calves, in the Valles Caldera National Preserve (also affects Rio Arriba County).
Socorro County—Mechanically thin encroaching pinyon/juniper to promote growth of forage shrubs and grasses for elk in the North San Mateo area of BLM lands; repair and improve existing guzzler to provide a more reliable water source for wildlife in the Kellog Canyon area of BLM lands.
RMEF volunteers recently thinned beetle-killed trees and removed 18 miles of old barbed wire fencing to improve a major elk migration corridor crossing the Medio Ranch in Rio Arriba County, and assisted with improving a 3,500-gallon guzzler on BLM lands in Socorro County.
Conservation projects are selected for grants using science-based criteria and a committee of RMEF volunteers and staff along with representatives from partnering agencies and universities.
Partners for 2012 projects in New Mexico include the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, U.S. Forest Service and other agencies, organizations, corporations and landowners.
Logo courtesy of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation