Elk foundation to fund projects
Elk herds and other wildlife in Mesa County and 13 other western Colorado counties are expected to benefit from a variety of conservation projects funded for this year by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
The foundation has announced it will spend $146,250 on projects that include prescribed burns in over-mature forests, restoring riparian habitat and research into the causes of Sudden Aspen Decline.
The projects will be done in Archuleta, Chaffee, Delta, Fremont, Garfield, Grand, Gunnison, Las Animas, Mesa, Montrose, Ouray, Park, Rio Blanco and San Miguel counties.
In Mesa County, elk foundation funds will be used to improve winter forage for elk and deer on the Grand Mesa National Forest by burning 2,167 acres of decadent shrubs and juniper in the Kannah Creek Basin and another 2,317 acres in the Mud Hill and Reservoir Gulch areas.
Research on the possible causes of Sudden Aspen Decline will include building fencing around 10 aspen stands in Montrose, Mesa, Ouray, San Miguel and Delta counties for study of of ungulate browsing and conifer encroachment.
Eighty acres of noxious weeds in the Tabeguache area of Uncompahgre National Forest will be treated and reseeded with native grasses.
“These grants are possible because of the successful banquets and fundraisers staged over the past year by our Colorado volunteers, most of whom are elk hunters as well as devoted conservationists,” said David Allen, chief executive officer and president of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. “Since 1984, our annual grants have helped complete 502 different projects in Colorado with a combined value of more than $115 million.”
Projects are selected for grants using science-based criteria and a committee of Elk Foundation volunteers and staff along with representatives from partner agencies and universities.
Partners for 2010 projects in Colorado include the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Colorado Division of Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, other agencies, corporations and landowners.