https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/washington-receives-1-9-million-for-habitat-research-hunting-heritage-projects/

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 29, 2021

Washington Receives $1.9 Million for Habitat, Research, Hunting Heritage Projects

MISSOULA, Mont. — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners contributed $1,900,848 in grant funding for wildlife habitat enhancement, research and hunting heritage efforts across Washington. RMEF directly granted $215,712 that leveraged an additional $1,685,136 in partner dollars.

“This funding helps enhance nearly 15,000 acres of Washington’s elk country, some of which is ailing due to the spread of noxious weeds and encroaching conifers that choke out native shrubs and grasses so crucial for elk and other wildlife species,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer.

Eleven projects benefit habitat across Asotin, Chelan, Columbia, Cowlitz, Ferry, Garfield, Grays Harbor, Kittitas, Skamania and Yakima Counties. There are an additional four projects of statewide benefit.

Washington is home to 23 RMEF chapters and more than 14,000 members.

“We greatly appreciate our volunteers for the time and effort they put forth in raising vital funding for RMEF’s mission that is placed back on the ground in their home state,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO.

Since 1986, RMEF and its partners completed 729 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Washington with a combined value of more than $132.1 million. These projects protected or enhanced 502,135 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 130,372 acres.

Below is a breakdown of Washington’s 2021 projects, listed by county.

Asotin County

  • Treat noxious weeds across 871 acres of yearlong elk range on the Asotin, Chief Joseph and W.T. Wooten Wildlife Areas in the Blue Mountains (also benefits Columbia and Garfield Counties).
  • Burn 10,380 acres in the Pomeroy Ranger District on the Umatilla National Forest and on the Chief Joseph Wildlife Area to improve winter range for elk and other wildlife. Prescribed burns enhance the health and resiliency of native grasses and shrubs and encourage elk use of public lands, benefitting public land hunting and reducing potential damage to private lands (also benefits Garfield County).

Chelan County

  • Provide funding for a study on elk movement and habitat use in the Upper Stemilt-Squilchuck Basin. The information will help guide wildlife managers in making decisions about when and where to protect and improve critical habitat.

Columbia County

  • Treat 200 acres of noxious weeds on the Rainwater Wildlife Area, which lies at the foot of southeastern Washington’s Blue Mountains and provides critical winter range for elk, whitetail and mule deer.

Cowlitz County

  • Treat 160 acres of noxious weeds across the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Mount St. Helens Wildlife Area and Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument to enhance native plant species for elk and other wildlife. The project is part of a multi-year effort to improve conditions for the Mount St. Helens elk herd (also benefits Skamania County).
  • Enhance 200 acres of winter forage habitat in the Toutle River Valley on the Mount St. Helens Wildlife Area, home to the highest winter concentration of elk in the region. The application of lime and fertilizer is followed up by seeding and planting shrubs and trees where plant cover is low.

Ferry County

  • Burn two treatment units covering 564 acres in the Three Rivers Ranger District on the Colville National Forest to rejuvenate forage for elk and other wildlife while also reducing the risk of large catastrophic wildfire.

Grays Harbor County

  • Improve habitat across 350 acres in the Pacific Ranger District on the Olympic National Forest for Roosevelt elk, other wildlife and pollinators. Crews pile slash and girdle young trees in previously thinned stands, treat invasive weeds and plant and seed native plants.

Kittitas County

  • Treat 300 acres for noxious weeds in the Rock Creek Unit on the Oak Creek Wildlife Area.

Yakima County

  • Remove encroaching small conifers across 1,114 acres of important elk calving and summer range in the Naches Ranger District on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest to increase forage production and nutritional quality. The area features numerous meadows important for many wildlife species.

Statewide

  • Provide funding for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, a nonprofit citizens group that leverages public funds for wildlife habitat, working farms and outdoor recreation opportunities across the state.
  • Provide funding for Outdoors for Our Heroes, an organization that hosts big game hunts for disabled veterans and first responders.
  • Provide funding for Salmon for Soldiers, a group that provides fishing and relationship-building opportunities for military members.
  • Provide funding for Divide Camp to host elk hunts in northeastern Oregon for combat-wounded veterans from Washington struggling with physical and mental health.
  • Project partners include the Colville, Gifford Pinchot, Okanogan-Wenatchee, Olympic and Umatilla National Forests, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and other government, sportsmen and conservation groups and individuals.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

Founded more than 37 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of more than 231,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 8.2 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.

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