https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/big-boost-coming-for-utahs-wildlife-conservation-efforts/

MISSOULA, Mont. — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation committed $760,519 in support of 49 projects across Utah to improve wildlife habitat, further wildlife management, bolster research and support hunting.

Collectively, with dozens of partners ranging from county, state and federal agencies to universities, conservation and sportsmen’s groups, $35.6 million will go on the ground to benefit 104,000 acres of habitat used by elk, mule deer, moose, pronghorn antelope, turkey, birds, fish and other wildlife species, and enjoyed by hunters, anglers, wildlife watchers and others.

“This latest batch of habitat stewardship work includes ongoing efforts to restore more than a dozen different watersheds,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “There is also a significant focus on enhancing winter range, migration corridors and supporting wildlife crossings.”

Dating back to 1987, RMEF and its partners completed 858 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Utah that conserved or enhanced 1.4 million acres of habitat. The combined value of that work is more than $184.2 million.

“We are grateful for our RMEF volunteers spread across 16 Utah chapters who are so diligent in generating funding for this conservation work,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO.

Below is a list of all 49 projects and their locations.

Beaver County

  • Install 29,800 feet of pipe and three metal troughs to increase water storage for elk, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, other wildlife and cattle on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Richfield Field Office and state land in the Mineral Mountains.
  • Restore 24 acres of riparian habitat and 250 acres of sagebrush habitat on state land in the Indian Peak Range through improved fencing, brush mowing, conifer lop and scatter, seeding and water development.
  • Supply funding for the Milford Young Guns, a participating team in the Utah Youth Education in Shooting Sports program for youth 5th grade through college

Box Elder County

  • Provide funding to trap and relocate beavers to sites where they can help return natural processes and function to streams and improve riparian habitat (also benefits Cache and Summit Counties).

Cache County

  • Reconnect Red Rock Creek to its historic floodplain through the construction of beaver dam analogs and let-down fencing to keep livestock out of riparian habitat on the Cinnamon Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA), an 8,107-acre WMA RMEF helped conserve in 2021. The property supplies summer range for elk and mule deer as well as brooding and summer habitat for sage grouse.
  • Survey 7,000 acres of aspen stands across the Logan and Ogden Ranger Districts of the Unita-Wasatch-Cache National Forest to identify future habitat enhancement treatments (also benefits Rich and Weber Counties).
  • Implement juniper removal, aerial seeding of shrubs and grasses, and invasive weed treatments across 2,662 acres in the Mahogany Ridge area on the Hardware WMA and Logan Ranger District of the Unita-Wasatch-Cache National Forest to benefit forage for elk, mule deer, moose, sage grouse and other wildlife.

Carbon County

  • Supply funding for the initial phase of a collaborative, multi-year restoration targeting 13 project locations within the Upper Price River Watershed. The project features riparian restoration, timber stand improvement, shaded fuel breaks, fuels reduction, invasive weed treatment and planting trees across on 8,137 acres of BLM Price Field Office, Manti-La Sal National Forest, Lower Fish Creek Wildlife WMA and private land in the foothills and mountains surrounding the Price and Wellington areas (also benefits Duchene, Emery, Sanpete and Utah Counties).
  • Provide funding for WB Hunting, a nonprofit organization that hosts hunts for disabled and youth hunters who do not have the ability or supplies to hunt on their own.
  • Supply funding for Mont Harmon Middle School’s fishing and shooting program. Activities include hunter safety, archery and trap shooting, fly tying and other activities.

Duchesne County

  • Remove conifers encroaching across 2,361 acres of sagebrush, mountain brush and upland meadow habitat in the Roosevelt-Duchesne Ranger District of the Ashley National Forest as well as state land in the Anthro Mountain and Avintaquin Canyon areas.
  • Install firebreaks and make stream improvements to control erosion on the Tabby Mountain WMA and private land.

Emery County

  • Supply funding for a research project to capture and place GPS collars on bison in the Book Cliffs, Range Creek and Henry Mountains to gather survival and movement data to guide management (also benefits Garfield, Grand, Unitah and Wayne Counties).

Garfield County

  • Thin pinyon-juniper encroaching on sagebrush steppe and ponderosa pine habitat across 10,294 acres in the Powell Ranger District on the Dixie National Forest to improve wildlife habitat and watershed health near Mt. Dutton. The work is part of a multi-year 30,000-acre project.

Grand County

  • Purchase and helicopter transport materials and supplies to maintain fence that protects the remote Little Creek WMA from nearby livestock.

Juab County

  • Plant 5,000 shrub seedlings across elk and mule deer winter range on the Levan WMA.
  • Restore 1,776 acres of winter range on the Santaquin, Spencer Fork and Mona Bench WMAs by removing encroaching junipers and seeding and planting shrub species where wildfire, drought and invasive plants affected habitat condition (also benefits Utah County).

Iron County

  • Enhance and restore 2,902 acres of sagebrush steppe, wetlands, springs and wet meadows in critical big game and sage grouse range in the Cedar City Ranger District on the Dixie National Forest and private land as part of a multi-year restoration effort across land ownerships. Install a new 10,200-gallon big game guzzler on the North Hills Herd Management Area in Pine Valley, an area that serves as mule deer summer and winter range.

Juab County

  • Supply funding for a study to determine the influence of predation versus habitat quality on elk and mule deer population dynamics in the Central Mountains Nebo Unit, an area that appears to have relatively high-quality summer and winter range.

Kane County

  • Supply funding for the construction of three new wildlife underpasses along Highway 89 near Kanab to benefit a mule deer migration corridor. The project includes several miles of wildlife fencing along with escape ramps, gates and cattle guards, where needed.
  • Aerial seed grasses and forbs, and then masticate 488 acres of juniper and pinyon on private land to improve wildlife migration corridor habitat for mule deer and elk south of Navajo Lake. The project will also help keep mule deer and elk from entering Zion National Park. Beaver dam analogs will also be installed to support riparian habitat.

Millard County

  • Disburse seeds across 4,760 acres in the Fillmore Ranger District of Fishlake National Forest, BLM Field Office and Fillmore WMA land that burned in the 2022 Halfway Hill Wildfire. The area serves as both critical elk winter range and elk calving grounds. It also supplies habitat for mule deer, wild turkey, upland game birds, small mammals and livestock.

Rich County

  • Supply funding to help with costs associated with emergency deer feeding related to the severe 2022-23 winter. Preliminary data shows survival of fed deer was significantly higher than non-fed deer (also benefits Summit and Weber Counties).

Salt Lake County

  • Improve big game habitat across 2,083 acres in the Salt Lake Ranger District on the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest and private land on the east side of the Salt Lake Valley. The project includes cutting, piling and burning of dead or dying conifers as well as conifer removal from aspen stands, invasive plant treatment and installation of beaver dam analogs (also benefits Summit County).
  • Supply funding for the most recent phase of an ongoing, collaborative project to improve watershed health from Summit Park at the top of Parley’s Canyon down through the canyon to the east side of Salt Lake Valley. Objectives in the Salt Lake Ranger District of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, BLM Salt Lake Field Office and private land include improving forest health, weed management, wildlife and fish habitat, water quantity and quality, mitigating wildfire risk and enhanced recreational opportunities (also benefits Summit County).

San Juan County

  • Enhance 8,497 acres of wildlife habitat in the La Sal Mountains with pinyon-juniper thinning, lop and scatter, seeding, prescribed burning and riparian protection treatments on BLM Moab Field Office, Manti-La Sal National Forest, state and private land.

Sanpete County

  • Implement mastication, hand-cutting with slash pile burning, seeding and the construction of beaver dam analogs across 947 acres on the 12-Mile WMA, Manti-La Sal National Forest and private land to restore a watershed and its habitat affected by mudslides.
  • Install beaver dam analog structures in Indian Creek, Willow Creek and Pinchot Ponds to restore stream function. The project also includes reintroducing beavers and planting riparian seedlings (also benefits Utah County).
  • Thin conifers, burn slash piles, plant shrubs, install beaver dam analogs and apply prescribed burning over 2,824 acres in the Sanpete Ranger District on the Manti-La Sal National Forest and adjacent Black Hills WMA as part of a multi-year landscape-scale restoration along the Sanpete Face. The project also includes fencing and installing gates and parking improvements to limit disturbance to wintering wildlife. Improve wildlife habitat in the Lost Creek area, including big game transition and winter range by thinning pinyon-juniper and seed application on 6,095 acres of Fishlake National Forest, BLM Richmond Field Office, state and private land (also benefits Sevier County).
  • Implement a series of treatments across 17,586 acres of BLM Richfield Field Office, state and private lands to enhance wildlife habitat and forest health in the Sanpitch Mountains (also benefits Juan County).

Sevier County

  • Enhance 2,516 acres of wildlife and fish habitat in the Richfield Ranger District on the Fishlake National Forest and private land big game transition and winter range in the Gooseberry Creek area.
  • Improve big game transition and winter range across 11,120 acres in the Richfield Ranger District on the Fishlake National Forest and private land in the Salina Creek area. Treatments include seeding, mastication, prescribed fire and more.

Summit County

  • Implement a variety of habitat treatments to restore aspen and improve soil, water and vegetation in the Heber-Kamas Ranger District on the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest within the Upper Provo Watershed (also benefits Wasatch County).
  • Thin 1,698 acres of forestland as part of a landscape-scale project to promote forest health, restore aspen growth, diversify stand structure and composition, reduce fuel loads, and improve wildlife habitat within the Bear River Watershed on the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest.
  • Implement various treatments to improve the Weber River Watershed including protect the water supply, mitigate wildfire risk and restore fisheries in the Heber-Kamas Ranger District on the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest and private land (also benefits Davis and Weber Counties).

Tooele County

  • Improve the North Sheeprocks Watershed by treating 2,572 acres in the Spanish Fork Ranger District on the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest with a combination of pinyon-juniper removal, seeding, planting shrubs and cottonwood trees, and beaver dam analog construction to improve habitat for big game, sage grouse, turkey, quail and other species.

Uintah County

  • Implement habitat improvements across 1,402 acres in the Winter Ridge, Meadow Creek and Willow Creek areas in the Book Cliffson BLM, state and private land such as aerial seeding, conifer removal and other treatments (also benefits Grand County).

Utah County

  • Scalp and seed 15 acres of critical mule deer winter range within the the Pole Canyon Wildfire burn scar on the Lasson Draw Fork WMA. Seed and plant shrubs across 46 acres of elk and mule deer crucial winter range in the Sheep Creek area on the Heber-Kamas Ranger District on the Uinta National Forest. Impacted by wildfire, invasive grasses and overgrazing.
  • Plant shrubs and shrub seedlings across 153 acres on the Timpanogos WMA, which is winter and transitional range for elk and mule deer. The project is part of a rehab effort to improve habitat scorched in the 2023 Range Wildfire.

Washington County

  • Supply funding for a study to determine the best ways to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions, increase public safety and improve safe passage for migrating mule deer along State Route 18.

Wayne County

  • Lop and scatter approximately 1,215 acres of pinyon and juniper encroaching on the Fishlake and Fremont National Forests to enhance crucial mule deer winter range and a movement corridor for elk south of the Polk Creek drainage.

Weber County

  • Supply funding for Fremont FFA Chapter members to participate in the 2023 national convention.

Statewide

  • Provide funding to help the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources expand its comprehensive, web-based data tool to include more wildlife and habitat information and robust reporting and GIS analysis capabilities. The tool provides a one-stop-shop for Utah’s natural resource professionals and partners to more effectively conserve and manage wildlife populations and habitat across the state.
  • Supply funding support for the Utah Migration Initiative to document, conserve and enhance movement pathways and migration corridors for Utah wildlife and fish.
  • Supply funding for Becoming an Outdoors-Woman, a nonprofit educational program offering hands-on workshops for women ranging from fly fishing, archery, shotgun and rifle shooting to canoeing, hiking and nature photography.

Nationwide

  • Supply funding and volunteer support for Freedom Hunt, an organization that hosts wounded veterans on a cow elk hunt.

Project partners include the Ashley, Dixie, Fishlake, Fremont, Manti-La Sal, Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forests, Bureau of Land Management, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and various other county, state, civic, conservation and business groups and private individuals.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

Founded in 1984 and fueled by hunters, RMEF has conserved more than 8.9 million acres for elk and other wildlife. RMEF also works to open and improve public access, fund and advocate for science-based resource management, and ensure the future of America’s hunting heritage. Discover why “Hunting Is Conservation™” at rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.

The post Big Boost Coming for Utah’s Wildlife, Conservation Efforts appeared first on Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

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