MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation awarded $148,800 in grants to acquire and enhance elk habitat in Pennsylvania as well as help fund more than 20 youth hunting heritage and other projects around the state.
The grants directly affect Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Bradford, Bucks, Cameron, Centre, Chester, Clearfield, Clinton, Dauphin, Elk, Fayette, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Huntingdon, Lancaster, Lycoming, Perry, Philadelphia, Potter, Sullivan, Tioga, Washington and Westmoreland Counties. Three other projects have statewide benefits.
“We have a long history in the state of Pennsylvania and this latest round of grants demonstrates our continued commitment to improving elk country there,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “A good chunk of the funding went toward the purchase of prime elk country in Elk County’s Benezette Township which is now protected and open for the public to enjoy.”
RMEF has approximately 11,000 members in Pennsylvania. Allen thanked them and the local volunteers who raised the grant funding at banquets, through membership drives and other events. He also thanked volunteers and members around the nation for their dedication to conservation, elk and elk country.
The grants will help fund the following projects, listed by county:
Armstrong County—Provide funding for parents and boys and girls in grades K-12 attending the Armstrong County Sportsmen and Conservation League Youth Field Day where they learn about water safety presented by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission plus other outdoor skills such as fishing, archery, trapping, wildlife identification and calling, compass reading, and shooting muzzleloaders, shotguns and .22 rifles.
Beaver County—Provide funding to purchase equipment and supplies to add muzzleloader as a club and youth field day activity for Aliquippa Bucktails Young Bucks Youth Club participants.
Bedford County—Provide funding for the Bedford County Sportsmen Club’s Youth Pheasant Hunt for youth ages 12-16; provide funding to help purchase ammunition for the Everett Sportsmen Junior Rifle Club which serves 64 members, many of which move on to shoot at the collegiate level; and provide funding to help offset the cost of ammunition for the Everett High School Rifle Team.
Cameron County—Continue long-time habitat enhancement work with herbicide, lime, seed and fertilizer treatments on 2,050 acres of herbaceous openings in the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Northcentral Region (also affects Elk, Clearfield, Clinton and Centre Counties).
Dauphin County—Provide sponsorship funding and volunteer support for the Capital Area Sportsmen Youth Field Day in Harrisburg where more than 300 youth participated in archery, fishing, shooting, fly tying, boating safety, canoeing, a Cherokee Run obstacle course and other activities.
Elk County—Provide funding for disking, fertilization and the planting of clover and desired grasses and natural forbs on 16 acres of reclaimed surface mines at State Game Lands #311 to benefit elk, elk viewing and hunting in an area visited by more than 100,000 people annually; provide $100,000 of Torstenson Family Endowment (TFE) funding to acquire and open 81 acres of prime elk habitat in Benezette Township to the public which also includes parking areas and walking trails to enhance elk viewing; provide funding for the Elk County Sportsmen for Youth 2014 Field Day where youth ages 10-14 participate in eight different hands-on events dealing with hunting, fishing, trapping and conservation.
Fayette County—Assist the Fayette County Sportsmen's League in providing six months of weekly training for youth in preparation for the regional and statewide Pennsylvania Youth Hunter Education Challenge competitions.
Fulton County—Provide volunteer manpower and funding for the Fulton County Sportsmen for Youth Field Day at Camp Sinoquipe near Ft. Littleton where boys and girls ages 10-15 take part in outdoor-related activities ranging from small bore and black powder rifle shooting, clay bird shooting and archery, to trout fishing, fly tying, waterfowl retrieval, wild turkey hunting tips and hunter safety, furbearer trapping, ATV safety and wildlife education (also affects Franklin, Huntingdon and Perry Counties).
Greene County—Provide co-sponsorship and volunteer manpower for Hunting Hills Youth Day which introduces boys and girls from across the Tri-state region to bird dogs, shotgun shooting, rifle shooting, muzzleloader shooting, archery, nature walks, history of firearms, fishing, turkey calling and gun safety; and provide funding for the Hunting Hill Hawkeyes, Greene County's Scholastic Clay Target Program team, in order to promote the program's mission and teach young people the fundamentals of gun safety and the value of wildlife conservation.
Lycoming County— Provide funding and volunteer support for the Consolidated Sportsmen of Muncy Creeks Fishing Derby for boys and girls ages 12 and under to get out and fish (also affects Sullivan County).
Philadelphia County—Offer funding for the Pennsylvania Master Naturalist Program which trains a corps of citizen volunteers who provide education, outreach and stewardship toward the conservation of natural resources within their communities by providing service to local organizations through projects such as invasive species removal, habitat restoration, citizen science, educational materials development, public presentations and educational program support. Since 2010, volunteers engaged in 3,880 hours of conservation outreach and stewardship, contributed more than $84,000 in conservation value and impact to more than 65 partners in southeastern Pennsylvania, reached more than 6,017 people through outreach and education, improved 257 acres of habitat through stewardship service, and completed 1,281 hours of continuing education in natural sciences (also affects Bucks, Chester andLancaster Counties).
Sullivan County—Provide funding for a day of hands-on instruction about Pennsylvania’s elk herd, shooting, archery, Native American culture, water conservation, and wildlife identification through tracks, scats and skulls for sixth grade students in East Lycoming and Sullivan County School Districts. Sponsorship of the program began in 1993 (also affects Lycoming County).
Tioga County—Provide funding for more than 100 boys and girls and their parents to learn about shooting and safety, wildlife identification, orienteering, fishing and turkey calling at the Tioga County Sportsmen for Youth Field Day (also affects Bradford and Potter Counties).
Washington County—Provide co-sponsorship and volunteer support for the Roscoe Sportsmen’s Association Youth Day where boys and girls ages eight to 16 receive hands-on outdoor skills experience in fly tying, turkey calling, firearms safety, wildlife conservation, ethics and sportsmanship as well as archery, trap, muzzleloader, pistol and rifle shooting (also affects Fayette County); provide volunteer manpower plus funding to cover the cost of materials and supplies for the 12-week Roscoe Sportsmen’s Association Junior Trap League; help offset practice fee and travel costs for members of the California Hill Gun Club competing in the state Scholastic Clay Target Program; and provide funding for the California University of Pennsylvania Sport Shooting Association which provides a setting for Cal U students to learn proper gun safety, continue to practice and compete in pistol, rifle, and shotgun disciplines while at college, and introduce first-time participants to the shooting sports.
Westmoreland County—Provide funding for a guided hunt for first-time hunters in order to engage youth in the excitement of pheasant hunting at the Kingston Veterans and Sportsmen Club Mentored Youth Pheasant Hunt.
Statewide—Provide funding for the Wildlife Leadership Academy (WLA) which empowers high school students from across the state to become ambassadors for wildlife conservation in order to ensure a sustained wildlife legacy for future generations. The WLA begins with rigorous five-day summer field schools that focus on wildlife biology, conservation, leadership skills and teamwork development lead by wildlife biologists, media professionals and educators. Over the last seven years, the program assisted more than 150 students who conducted 745 outreach projects, engaging in more than 3,300 contact hours with the public and reached an audience of greater than 15,000 people across the state; provide funding for the Wildlife Society Northeast Student Conclave which brings students in majors related to wildlife and natural resource conservation together with professionals in the field to gain hands-on experience as they learn skills through workshops and compete in an intercollegiate quiz bowl; and assist with the cost of awards given to shooters at the Scholastic Clay Target Program state competition and various regional competitions.
TFE funding is only used to further RMEF’s core mission programs of permanent land protection, habitat stewardship, elk restoration and hunting heritage.
RMEF volunteers and staff along with representatives from partnering agencies and universities use science-based criteria to select conservation projects for grant funding. RMEF volunteers and staff select hunting heritage projects to receive funding.
Partners for the Pennsylvania projects include the Pennsylvania Game Commission and various business, university, sportsmen, wildlife and civic organizations.
Since 1985, RMEF and its partners completed 341 different conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Pennsylvania with a combined value of more than $22.8 million. RMEF also made ten land acquisition purchases that opened or secured public access to 8,546 acres of Pennsylvania elk country.