The extensive monitoring of elk to deal with Chronic Wasting Disease, prescribed burning to improve habitat, and various projects to enhance wildlife water supplies and promote hunting heritage are among 2013 efforts funded by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation in South Dakota.
The RMEF grants total $71,232 and directly affect Aurora, Brule, Butte, Charles Mix, Custer, Douglas, Fall River, Lawrence, Lincoln, Meade and Pennington Counties. There are also several projects of statewide interest.
“Chronic Wasting Disease can have a devastating impact on elk populations in South Dakota so it’s important we remain committed to an intensive program at Wind Cave National Park designed to monitor and remove those that appear infected,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “Funding a prescribed burn will also improve elk habitat in the same region.”
Allen thanked dedicated RMEF volunteers in South Dakota who conducted fundraising projects at their banquets and via membership drives to generate the funding. He also thanked volunteers and members around the nation for their dedication to conservation, elk and elk country.
RMEF grants will help fund the following 2013 projects, listed by county:
Butte County—Provide RMEF volunteer manpower to help install 3/8-inch aluminum cable along a 1/4 mile stretch of fencing on private land to ease movement for the Red Water elk herd and minimize fence damage.
Charles Mix County—Provide funding for a wildlife display at the Cecil and Phyllis Melcher Museum in Platte (also affects Aurora, Brule and Douglas Counties).
Custer County—Prescribed burning for 1,986 acres in the southwest corner of Custer State Park, northwest corner of Wind Cave National Park, a portion of Black Hills National Forest lands and a small portion of private land to improve elk habitat by treating encroaching ponderosa pine and cleaning up down and dead woody debris; monitor elk movement in and out of Wind Cave National Park, conduct cow-calf counts to assist management decisions, and take part in CWD monitoring and removal of suspect animals to safeguard the herd; monitor and repair wildlife guzzlers across the Black Hills National Forest by utilizing RMEF volunteers (also affects Pennington, Lawrence, Fall River and Meade Counties); provide funding for a high quality interactive display in Custer State Park focusing on game management and conservation featuring elk, bison, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, antelope and other species to be seen by nearly 2,000,000 visitors annually; and provide funding for the South Dakota Wildlife Federation Conservation Camp that focuses on introducing high school age girls and boys to wildlife, conservation, and other subjects that provide background for careers in wildlife, biology and similar fields.
Lawrence County—Replace and maintain ten wildlife guzzlers on the Northern Hills Ranger District of the Black Hills National Forest by using RMEF volunteer manpower while also monitoring 14 additional guzzlers (also affects Meade County); and provide RMEF volunteers labor to assist with the clean-up and recycling of scrap metal on an RMEF-held conservation easement.
Lincoln County—Provide the Harrisburg School District with an elk education trunk which contains lesson plans, activities, books, antlers, fur, skulls and other hands-on instructional tools used to offer wildlife and conservation education for educators teaching grades five through eight. (Funding from RMEF’s Torstenson Family Endowment covered this project.)
Pennington County—Enhance and protect three developed springs used by elk, deer and other species by improving fencing while still providing water for wildlife and livestock on the Black Hills National Forest; provide funding to assist members of the South Dakota Senate and House Agriculture and Natural Resource Committees in a tour of South Dakota West River counties to view completed and proposed conservation and outreach projects; provide sponsorship of South Dakota Youth Hunting Adventures, a non-profit organization that pairs youth age 12-16 from the Rapid City area, who do not have the opportunity to hunt, with mentors to learn shooting, conservation education, landowner relations, fishing, camping and other outdoor skills as they head into the field for an antlerless deer hunt; and provide funding for an RMEF sign capping a $10,000 donation to finance an elk display at Outdoor Campus West in Rapid City, an educational facility that serves approximately 10,000 visitors every year.
Statewide—Provide sponsorship of the South Dakota Division of Wildlife Conference, a gathering that offers training, team building and professional development of staff; and replace South Dakota’s RMEF State Leadership Team elk education trunk.
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 receive funding.
Partners for 2013 projects in South Dakota include South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks, the Black Hills National Forest, Wind Cave National Park, local businesses, private landowners, and various sportsmen, wildlife, civic and government organizations.
RMEF’s mission is to enhance the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. Since 1985, RMEF and its partners completed 196 different conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in South Dakota with a combined value of more than $32.3 million.
Logo courtesy Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation