Grants provided by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will fund archery, shooting and hunting heritage programs for hundreds of youth in Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma. The funding will also improve elk and small game habitat in Kansas and Oklahoma, and go toward elk research and tree replanting efforts in Nebraska.
“It is vital that we invest resources in promoting and sustaining our hunting heritage,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “These grants show our continued commitment to reaching out to the next generation in a part of the country that was home to historical elk range.”
RMEF’s mission is to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. The RMEF grants, totaling $28,050, will affect three counties in Kansas, two counties in Nebraska and 10 counties in Oklahoma. A project in Kansas has statewide interest as does an additional project in Oklahoma. Since 1985, RMEF and its partners completed 185 different conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in these three states with a combined value of more than $12 million.
Funding for RMEF grants is based on local membership drives and banquet fundraising by RMEF chapters and volunteers in Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma. Allen thanked RMEF supporters for their dedication to conservation in the Midwest and all across elk country.
RMEF grants fund the following projects listed by state and county:
- Riley County—Seed and fertilize 469 acres of existing forage plots on the Fort Riley Military Reservation to improve habitat for elk, white-tailed deer, turkey, bobwhite quail, ring-necked pheasant and many non-game species (also affects Clay and Geary counties).
- Statewide—Sponsor Kansas Pass It On-Outdoor Mentors program to help introduce at-risk Kansas youth to outdoor recreation and conservation.
- Cherry County—Assist Nebraska Game and Parks to capture and fit elk with telemetry collars to determine distribution and population census method in vicinity of the 19,131-acre Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge, which may provide a future hunting opportunity; RMEF volunteers and others plant conifers and hardwoods in 2006 Big Rock wildfire area; provide grant for equipment to launch the National Archery in the Schools Program at Zion Lutheran School in Valentine.
- Sioux County—RMEF volunteers remove woven wire boundary fence and replace it with wildlife-friendly fencing to facilitate safe movement of elk, deer and bighorn sheep.
- Adair County—Use dozer operations to push timber 15 feet back along 8.1 miles of roads that serve as firebreaks to enhance safety and effectiveness of controlled burning operations to benefit wildlife in the Cookson Wildlife Management Area, 85 to 90 percent of which is in closed canopy condition. Disking, mowing and herbicide treatments to be used to maintain firebreaks. Downed timber to enhance small game habitat (also affects Cherokee County).
- Delaware County—Implement herbicide treatments and ridge-top clearing renovations in the Spavinaw Wildlife Management Area to maintain forage openings and increase forage quality for elk, white-tailed deer and other species; re-establish nesting structure and brood rearing habitat for turkey and quail; perform maintenance on nine existing ponds; burn 5,000 acres on elk summer and winter range to improve forage for elk, deer, turkey, quail and migratory songbirds (also includes Mayes County).
- Oklahoma County—Provide grant for archery equipment for the City Kids Outdoors National Archery in the Schools Program to introduce at-risk youth to the outdoor recreation.
- Pittsburg County—Provide grant for archery equipment, rifles and other supplies to assist growth of the largest 4-H shooting program in Oklahoma (also affects Haskell, Latimer and Leflore counties).
- Pushmataha County—Burn 5,000 acres on elk summer and winter range in the Pushmataha Wildlife Management Area to improve abundance and quality forage for elk, deer, turkey, quail and migratory songbirds.
- Statewide—Provide funding for the Oklahoma Youth Hunter Education Challenge that gives outdoor skills and safety training to youth who complete their hunter certification.
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. RMEF volunteers and staff select hunting heritage projects to be funded.
Partners for 2012 projects in Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma include the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and other agencies, schools, organizations and foundations.
Logo courtesy Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation