Wildland fire mitigation, public recreation access, youth education, and upland habitat will all benefit this year from funding from the Montana chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation.

The Montana State Board of the NWTF met last weekend in Billings to distribute over $24,000 in funds in support of the NWTF’s national “Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt.” campaign. The funds, raised in conservation banquets held around in communities around Montana, are held in the “Superfund,” an account that earmarks money for a variety of qualifying habitat, education, and hunting-heritage projects in Montana. Since 1985, the Turkey Federation has distributed over $400,000 in Superfunds in Montana. Nationally, state Superfunds have put more than $450 million on the ground for conservation, habitat enhancement, and education.

Here are Montana projects that will receive NWTF funding this year:

  • Tin Can Hill Fuels Treatment, Petroleum County – The BLM requested funding to help reduce fuels and wildfire threat on thousands of acres of public land in the Musselshell River Breaks.
  • College Scholarships – Two Montana high school seniors will receive $1,500 in scholarship funds from the NWTF. Keely Benson of Plains is the statewide scholarship winner while Keelie Smith of Colstrip is the runner-up. One of the remarkable details of this scholarship is that, while it rewards community service and academic performance, it also requires applicants to be active hunters, verified by submission of a copy of their current hunting license.
  • West Fork Bitterroot River Vegetation Treatment, Ravalli County – The Bitterroot National Forest requested funding to help plant native forbs and shrubs on public land to enhance habitat for wild turkeys, elk, and other wildlife.
  • Frenchtown Face Fuels Treatment, Missoula County — The state board awarded funds to help the Lolo National Forest reduce fire-prone fuels on over 1,000 acres of public land west of Missoula. The project will improve wild turkey habitat on public lands.
  • Custer National Forest Fire Mitigation, Powder River County – The NWTF in Montana has funded wildland fire mitigation efforts on the Ashland Ranger District of the Custer National Forest in southeast Montana for several years. For 2014, the forest will get funds to support public-land managers in their prescribed fire efforts to minimize the impact of catastrophic fires like those that devastated the area in 2012.
  • Manhattan School District Archery in the Schools, Gallatin County – The NWTF donated funds to purchase six bows and associated archery equipment to implement the National Archery in the Schools Program in the Gallatin Valley.
  • Pompeys Pillar Naturalist Program, Yellowstone County – The state board awarded funds to the Audubon Society’s Naturalist in the Schools program at Pompeys Pillar National Monument east of Billings. The funds will be used for classroom materials to educate students about wildlife in the riparian corridor.
  • Custer National Forest Access, Powder River County – Finally, the state board completed the fifth and final year of contributions to a term easement program on Cub Creek north of Ashland. The program has provided sportsman access to thousands of acres of landlocked land on the Custer National Forest.

The National Wild Turkey Federation is committed to improving wildlife habitat, expanding public access, and introducing hunting to new populations of sportsmen. The national organization boasts 7 chapters in Montana.

“The remarkable detail about the NWTF’s funding mechanism is that funds raised in Montana stay in Montana to do good work for wildlife, sportsmen, and kids,” says Ed Sugg of Glasgow, the Montana state president of the NWTF.

Logo courtesy National Wild Turkey Federation

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