MISSOULA, Mont. — California received $6,664,333 in grant funding from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners for habitat improvement, elk-related scientific research and hunting heritage projects. RMEF directly granted $326,616 and leveraged $6,337,717 in partner dollars.
“Perhaps the most visible of these 11 projects is construction of the first structure of its kind in California specifically designed to allow elk and other ungulates to cross a busy roadway. It will restore a migratory route and reduce wildlife-vehicle incidents,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “Other notable projects includes three different studies to help ensure the future of elk in the state.”
There are 27 chapters and approximately 13,000 RMEF members in California.
“We recognize and salute our volunteers for raising these funds that are put back on the ground in their home state,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO.
Since 1988, RMEF and its partners completed 643 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in California with a combined value of more than $74.4 million. These projects protected or enhanced 192,011 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 24,266 acres.
Below are California’s 2020 projects, listed by county.
• Provide funding for the first ungulate-specific crossing structure in California to allow elk and other wildlife to cross State Route 20. Data from collared elk in the Cache Creek herd shows that the highway is a significant barrier thus putting them at risk for genetic isolation. The structure will connect subherds and open more than 50,000 acres of habitat.
• Provide funding for a study testing a newer method of estimating elk population numbers in the Lake Pillsbury Elk Management Unit on the Mendocino National Forest. Modern techniques can produce quality results through this non-invasive, efficient method, compared to conventional aerial surveys.
• Enhance a combination of 200 acres of meadows and aspen stands along migratory routes on the east side of the McCloud Ranger District on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.
• Improve 400 acres of forage habitat in meadows and aspen stands in the Goosenest Ranger District on the Klamath National Forest. The work is designed to encourage elk to remain on public land and reduce the likelihood of agricultural depredation.
• Provide funding for research to examine elk movement to better define forage habitat and identify localized movement and/or longer distance migration patterns. This approach will allow more accurate and biologically realistic estimates of habitat use and availability, thus improving elk management (also benefits Del Norte, Humboldt, Lassen, Modoc, Shasta and Trinity Counties).
• Provide funding to continue a multi-year study to estimate elk abundance and develop a better understanding of elk population dynamics, movement and space use on public and private lands in the Marble Mountains. Researchers previously deployed 153 GPS collars on cow elk and 141 VHF ear tags on calves. Findings will inform scientifically sound hunting proposals and identify key areas for habitat enhancement and conservation (also benefits Del Norte, Lassen, Modoc and Shasta Counties).
• Provide funding and volunteer manpower for the Shasta Mountain Archers Range and youth workshop.
• Provide funding for the Miners Outdoor Club Clay Target Team that focuses on safety, fun and competition. Participants enhance their shooting skills, teamwork and knowledge about conservation issues.
• Provide funding to examine the genetic diversity of Rocky Mountain, Roosevelt and tule elk, all of which live in California. Researchers sequence DNA from all three subspecies by using genetic samples from hunter-harvested animals and fecal samples. Insights learned will assist with elk management.
• Support a collaborative that promotes wildlife conservation and the outdoor heritage by focusing on state legislative issues that could impact science-based wildlife management and hunting and fishing opportunity for California’s sportsmen and women.
• Provide funding and volunteer manpower for the annual Junior Apprentice Elk Hunt at the Chimineas Ranch that provides a mentored hunt experience for a first-time youth hunter.
Project partners include the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California Department of Transportation, California Wildlife Conservation Board, Klamath and Shasta-Trinity National Forests, and other conservation, sportsmen, university, business and civic organizations.
About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Founded more than 36 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of nearly 235,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 8 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.
Courtesy of RMEF