The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation funded more than 25 habitat projects in Utah this year that positively affected more than 27,000 acres. RMEF also sponsored research, installed guzzlers and provided outreach to advance Utah’s rich hunting heritage.
RMEF grants for 2012 total $187,750 and directly affect 16 counties: Beaver, Cache, Carbon, Duchesne, Garfield, Grand, Iron, Kane, Millard, Piute, San Juan, Sanpete, Sevier, Tooele, Uintah and Utah. Six additional projects have statewide interest.
“We have a deep history with Utah that dates back almost to our roots as a land and conservation organization,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “Looking ahead, these projects further solidify our commitment to elk and elk country in a part of the West where the elk population is growing.”
RMEF’s mission is to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. Since 1985, RMEF and its partners completed 395 different conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Utah with a combined value of more than $ 42.4 million.
Funding for RMEF grants and projects is based on local membership drives, banquet fundraising by RMEF chapters and volunteers, and funds raised through the auctioning of Utah conservation hunting permits. Allen thanked RMEF supporters for their dedication to conservation in Utah and all across elk country.
RMEF grants will help fund the following 2012 projects in Utah, listed by county:
- Beaver County—Installation of a new 10,200-gallon guzzler to benefit elk, mule deer, pronghorn and chukar in the Wah Wah Mountains west of Milford.
- Cache County—Replace a deteriorated elk trapping structure with a new structure used for annual testing of wintering elk for brucellosis and gathering other biological data at the Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area (WMA); provide sponsorship of Cache Valley Scholastic Shooting Sports Program which introduces school-age youth to clay target sports and recreational shooting.
- Carbon County—Spread a mix of perennial grasses, forbs, shrubs and sagebrush in the 14,864-acre Gordon Creek WMA, which is home to 5,000 wintering mule deer and 1,000 elk. Seeding followed up by herbicide treatment for cheatgrass.
- Duchesne County—Thin dense, young ponderosa pine stands on 590 acres in the Burnt Mill Spring area to reduce stand density and improve habitat for a variety of species including elk, northern goshawk, turkey, mule deer, moose and small mammals.
- Garfield County—Mechanically mulch and seed 2,000 acres of pinyon-juniper encroachment to restore sagebrush steppe habitat, open wildlife movement corridors and reduce hazardous fuel loads near Panguitch and Hillsdale; lop and scatter pinyon and juniper trees encroaching on 570 acres southwest of Circleville; restore aspen stands through conifer removal and fencing on 783 acres of summer habitat northwest of Escalante; and drill seed 38 acres of habitat in the Kingston and Black Canyon WMAs along the East Fork of the Sevier River to prevent future establishment of invasive species (also affects Piute County).
- Grand County—Burn, drill seed and apply herbicide to restore 1,200 acres of desert grassland habitat as part of four-year, 4,400-acre project in the Cisco Desert near the Utah/Colorado border to benefit wildlife and livestock; reduce pinyon and juniper trees on 670 acres that crowd out grasses and forbs in the Little Jim area; use chaining to remove pinyon and juniper trees on 1,166 acres to improve forage for elk, bison and other wildlife on Moon Ridge; and install four guzzlers in the north Book Cliffs to provide alternate water sources (also affects Uintah County).
- Iron County—Thin and scatter pinyon and juniper trees to restore sagebrush steppe habitat on up to 4,000 acres throughout the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources’ Southern Region; and aerial seed 575 acres of mountain brush habitat in big game transition/winter range on the northern portion of the Cedar City Ranger District.
- Kane County—Lop and scatter pinyon and juniper trees followed by seeding select areas with grasses, forbs and shrubs on 2,530 acres of elk, mule deer and sage grouse habitat northeast of Kanab on the Skutumpah Terrace.
- Millard County—Remove pinyon and juniper trees to improve 900 acres of habitat in the foothills of the Pahvant Range and 600 acres south of Kanosh near Damron Canyon; and install guzzlers on the east slope of the Pahvant Range to provide water for wildlife (also affects Sevier County).
- San Juan County—Use prescribed burning, mechanical, chemical, seeding and livestock grazing management strategies to improve 1,000-2,000 acres of the sagebrush ecosystem for a variety of species in the Beef Basin; and use thinning methods on pinyon and juniper on 800 acres in the Johnson Creek and Recapture Creek drainages north of Blanding.
- Sanpete County—Lop and scatter pinyon and juniper on 853 acres and apply seeding to unauthorized and now-closed ATV trails to restore sagebrush steppe habitat in the Manti Face WMA; and lop and scatter pinyon and juniper to restore 869 acres of sagebrush steppe habitat on winter range near Manti.
- Statewide—Sponsor the final year of a three-year study to determine the effectiveness of many wildlife road crossing designs; provide “elk education trunk” to educate youth and the public about elk biology and habitat needs; sponsor the final year of a four-year study on how to best place guzzlers to maximize their effectiveness; sponsor a study to isolate factors likely responsible for the continuing decline of the moose population; and sponsor a study to understand key factors that affect aspen sustainability and the ecosystem services that are forfeited when quaking aspen disappear from the landscape. The study conducts a survey of aspen regeneration responses in intact forest stands on the Dixie, Fishlake and Manti-La Sal National Forests.
- Tooele County—Project to improve sagebrush habitat and reduce fuel loadings on 898 acres of the western foothills of the Oquirrh Mountains southeast of Stockton.
- Uintah County—Provide aerial seeding of grasses, forbs and browse species on 550 acres of land in the Book Cliffs near Pine Spring Canyon followed by the removal of encroaching pinyon and juniper trees to improve forage for wildlife; remove pinyon and juniper on 200 acres on big game winter range and sage-grouse brood rearing/winter habitat north of Calder Reservoir on Diamond Mountain; remove pinyon and juniper to restore 415 acres of sagebrush steppe habitat on Winter Ridge in the Book Cliffs; construct temporary exclosures around 26 acres of regenerating aspen stands to protect them from browsing near South Canyon in the Book Cliffs (also affects Grand County); and remove pinyon and juniper trees to restore sagebrush steppe habitat on 620 acres in the Book Cliffs south of Vernal.
- Utah County—Remove pinyon and juniper trees across 860 acres in Spanish Fork Canyon and seed the areas with perennial forb browse and thermal cover species.
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 Utah include the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, the Bureau of Land Management, the United States Forest Service and other agencies, foundations, organizations and universities.
Logo courtesy Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation