Rocky Mtn. Elk Foundation funding projects in 19 counties

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation this year is funding 18 habitat projects that impact more than 6,000 acres in 19 Colorado counties, including Mesa, Garfield and Gunnison.

The conservation group recently announced it will spend more than $260,000 on the projects to protect and improve elk habitat and assist with research efforts, a wounded veterans’ elk hunt and several hunting heritage outreach gatherings.

Since 1985, the Elk Foundation has completed more than 570 different conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Colorado with a combined value of more than $147 million.

“This latest round of grants further solidifies our longstanding commitment to elk and elk country in Colorado,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “These projects will improve habitat by treating noxious weeds, using prescribed burns and thinning to improve forage, decommissioning old logging roads, and collaring elk to better determine their seasonal movement patterns to assist wildlife managers in dealing with conflict areas.”

Garfield and Mesa counties will benefit from hydro-axe mulching of dense oak brush to improve habitat on 600 acres of mountain shrub, sagebrush and pinyon-juniper growth across elk winter and transition ranges.

Areas to be improved are in the Wallace Creek and Hells Gulch areas on the White River National Forest.

In Gunnison County, work crews will: install rock structures to retain water in adjacent stream banks, reduce sediment and restore stream access on 1,254 acres to improve elk winter survival; thin and prune 200 acres and burn 500 acres of lodgepole pine, Douglas fir, and ponderosa pine to improve forage for elk range and to reduce conflicts on adjacent private lands within the Upper Gunnison Basin within the Gunnison National Forest; and provide funding to install 10 GPS radio collars on elk to determine habitat use and movement over time.

These projects also impact elk habitat and management in Saguache and Hinsdale counties.

Partners for 2013 projects in Colorado include the Arapaho and Roosevelt, Grand Mesa, Gunnison, Medicine Bow-Routt, Uncompahgre and White River national forests; Bureau of Land Management, Colorado Parks and Wildlife; and other federal, state and local agencies, private landowners, foundations, organizations and universities.

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