Minnesotans are the beneficiaries of grants recently awarded by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF). The organization's more than $40,000 in grants are slated for improvement of elk forage and assistance with various projects to help ensure the future of Minnesota’s rich hunting traditions.
The grants total $43,770 and directly benefit Beltrami, Kittson, Marshall and Roseau Counties. Seven other projects have statewide benefits.
“Minnesota has some of the most dedicated sportsmen and women in the country,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “This funding helps promote hunting and outdoor traditions for youth and adults at a variety of activities. It also helps pay for prescribed burning, noxious weed treatments and other needed habitat enhancement projects that improve native grasses and forbs for elk and other wildlife.”
Allen thanked RMEF volunteers in Minnesota who carried out fundraising projects at their banquets, through membership drives and other events to generate the funding. He also thanked volunteers and members around the nation for their dedication to conservation.
“Our volunteers make all the difference for the RMEF. We thank them so much for their passion and dedication to elk and elk country,” added Allen.
RMEF grants will help fund the following projects, listed by county:
Beltrami County—Apply brush-shearing operations to trigger new forage growth on 250 acres of habitat for elk and other wildlife within the Grygla, Moose River and Wapiti Wildlife Management Areas (also affects Marshall County); and provide sponsorship of the 12th Annual Minnesota Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener designed to honor the state's deer hunting tradition, educate youth and promote ethical hunting practices.
Kittson County—Provide funding for Student Conservation Association interns to assist with implementing prescribed burn operations and noxious weed treatments to enhance elk habitat on 2,000 acres of the Tallgrass Aspen Parklands (also affects Marshall, Roseau and Beltrami Counties); and establish high quality forage plots on state (Karlstad Wildlife Management Area) and private lands to draw elk away from agricultural crops and increase their acceptance. Bear, deer, moose, sharp-tailed grouse and sandhill cranes also benefit.
Marshall County—Implement prescribed fire, aspen girdling and removal operations on 2,895 acres of the Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge where lack of disturbance for more than 70 years allowed aspen and willow to encroach on historically open grasslands and oak savannah habitat.
Statewide—Provide funding to help cover the costs for the Minnesota Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, a meeting that offers sportsmen groups an opportunity to interface with legislators and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to make their views and positions known; provide funding to make scholarships available for participants in Minnesota’s Youth Hunting Camps where boys and girls age 12-16 receive instruction in archery and the use of shotguns, rifles and pistols, as well as learning to track, dog handle, identify various types of cover and vegetation and more; provide funding to assist with publication of the Women Hunting and Fishing in All Seasons newsletters that include information on the organization, articles with hunting and gear tips, resources to aid beginner hunters and anglers, and a schedule of women's events for Minnesota's sporting community, as well as pages devoted to information from supporting partners including RMEF; provide funding to underwrite National Archery in the Schools Program archery kit grants to schools across Minnesota; provide funding for two Women Hunting and Fishing in All Seasons activities—the first offers shooting and fishing opportunities while the second is a brainstorming session on how to best serve the needs of Minnesota's sporting women and potential female hunters and anglers; provide sponsorship funding and volunteer manpower for an RMEF SAFE event at the Minnesota 2014 Game Fair; and provide sponsorship of numerous DNR Becoming an Outdoors Woman and Family Outreach Programs which provides women and families with an opportunity to learn skills related to hunting, fishing, and the outdoors.
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 the Minnesota projects include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, private landowners, and various sportsmen, wildlife and civic organizations.
Since 1985, RMEF and its partners completed 149 different conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Minnesota with a combined value of more than $2.3 million.