Grants provided by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will fund prescribed fire, aspen stand assistance, seeding, and conservation projects to improve forage in Minnesota. RMEF grants total $34,650 and will enhance 3,901 acres of habitat in four counties: Beltrami, Kittson, Marshall and Ottertail. They will also pay for multiple hunting heritage outreach events across the state.
“It is vital for elk to have high quality forage not only for their day-to-day nutritional needs, but also located in areas that keep them away from private farmland,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “We are also thrilled to help further Minnesota’s rich outdoor heritage by sponsoring a series of statewide activities that include hunting, fishing, shooting sports, and other outdoor-related events for youth and adults alike.”
Since 1990, RMEF and its partners completed 125 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects with a combined value of more than $2.1 million.
“Kudos goes out to our volunteers and members in Minnesota. Their hard work raised the funds for these on-the-ground projects through banquet fundraising and membership drives,” added Allen.
Allen also thanked RMEF chapters and volunteers around the country for their passion and dedication.
RMEF grants will help fund the following 2013 projects, listed by county:
Kittson County—Establish quality forage plots on 150 acres of state and private land in the Karlstad area to draw elk away from agricultural crops and increase acceptance of elk. Bear, deer, moose, sharp-tailed grouse and sandhill cranes will also benefit.
Marshall County—Implement multiple prescribed burn, aspen girdling and removal operations to reclaim open landscapes, restore oak savanna habitat and re-create open grassland areas encroached by aspen and willow over the last 70-plus years on 3,675 acres of the Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge; and seed and fertilize 76 acres on the Grygla and Wapiti Wildlife Management Areas to establish and maintain forage plots to alleviate depredation while assisting elk and other wildlife (also affects Beltrami County).
Ottertail County—Sponsor a hands-on outdoor learning experience for 300 Fergus Falls 4th and 5th graders as part of the annual Minnesota Governor’s Deer Hunting Opening Youth Field Day. Activities include archery, hatchet throwing, a deer drag obstacle course, shooting and ATV demonstration.
Statewide—Sponsor the Women Hunting and Fishing in All Seasons organization by assisting with outreach literature, website work and other means to help inspire women to hunt and fish through education and empowerment; exhibit and conduct Shooting Access for Everyone, or SAFE, event for the entire family at the Minnesota 2013 Game Fair; sponsor scholarships for youth age 12-16 at the Minnesota Horse and Hunt Club’s Youth Hunting Camp which offers instruction in archery, shotguns, rifles, pistols, dog handling, tracking, and other activities; provide funding for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus and the Minnesota Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus to promote hunting and angling traditions; co-sponsored two trade show displays for the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League which reaches more than 3,400 students from 114 high school teams representing 195 schools; sponsor the Becoming an Outdoors Woman and Family Programs which provide opportunities to learn hunting, fishing and outdoor skills; and sponsor the 54th Annual Minnesota Outdoor Youth Expo designed to get kids outdoors and learn hands-on skills such as shooting, archery, firearm safety, fishing, water safety and mock pheasant hunting.
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 Minnesota include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and various other organizations, civic groups, corporations and volunteers.