Grants will advance elk habitat conservation

Elk and other wildlife in Mesa County and 11 more Colorado counties are going to benefit from $144,150 in grants this year from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

The grants will be spent on improving wildlife habitat and funding elk and deer research by state biologists.

The 12 counties receiving funds include Mesa, Dolores, Eagle, Fremont, Grand, Gunnison, La Plata, Mesa, Mineral, Montezuma, Park and Saguache.

“Across Colorado, the native grasslands that elk use for forage are shrinking,” said David Allen, president and CEO of the elk foundation. “The habitat projects that we’re funding this year will help manage these lands.”

Allen said the projects could add more than 6,500 acres to the 388,203 acres that the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation previously has helped to conserve or enhance in Colorado.

The money allotted for Mesa County will go to improving forage for elk, mule deer and other species through prescribed burns on 1,912 acres in the Nick Mountain area.

Nick Mountain is due south of Molina on Grand Mesa.

The grant also will provide sponsorship for the annual Outdoor Heritage Day held early each summer in Palisade.

The event is aimed at educating youths about outdoor resources, wildlife, conservation and recreation.

Allen said the elk foundation hopes to impact about 100,000 acres nationwide in 2011, reaching the 6 million-acre lifetime mark in lands conserved or enhanced for elk and other wildlife.

Money for the grants and research is raised primarily through various fundraisers sponsored by local RMEF chapters.

The Grand Junction chapter has been recognized as one of the nation’s leading fund-raising chapters.


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