MISSOULA, Mont. — Twelve counties in Montana are slated for wildlife and habitat conservation projects using $149,665 in new grants from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
The 2009 RMEF grants will affect Carbon, Deer Lodge, Lake, Lewis & Clark, Lincoln, Mineral, Missoula, Park, Petroleum, Powell, Stillwater and Sweetgrass counties.
Additionally, a biological research project has statewide interest.
"Our volunteers across Montana helped drive the 2008 fundraisers that made these grants possible. This is where Elk Foundation banquets, auctions and other events transform into on-the-ground conservation work, and it's part of the payday for our supporters who are passionate about giving something back to the outdoors," said David Allen, Elk Foundation president and CEO.
Elk Foundation grants will help fund the following Montana conservation projects, listed by county:
Deer Lodge County — Treat noxious weeds to improve elk habitat in Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.
Lake County — Restore native grasses and shrubs for elk and other wildlife by prescribe burning 250 acres of overgrown forest in Flathead National Forest.
Lewis & Clark County — Thin 650 acres of overgrown forests to improve winter and transitional range for elk in Helena National Forest.
Lincoln County — Using prescribed fire, reduce tree density and improve elk forage on 989 acres in Kootenai National Forest.
Mineral County — Offset nearby private-land development by prescribe burning 700 acres to improve elk winter range on 700 acres in Lolo National Forest; aerially treat 522 acres of spotted knapweed in Lolo National Forest.
Missoula County — Rejuvenate native grasses and re-establish natural fire regime in upper-elevation shrub fields using prescribed fire on 325-plus acres of elk range in Flathead National Forest and Lolo National Forest (also affects Powell County).
Park County — Treat 300 acres of noxious weeds to enhance habitat for elk in Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness (also affects Sweetgrass, Stillwater and Carbon counties).
Petroleum County — Prescribe burn 1,787 acres to reduce fuel loading in ponderosa pine habitat and improve forage for elk and other wildlife on BLM lands in Lewistown area.
Powell County — Increase winter-range forage for elk using prescribe burns on BLM lands; improve fencing and water developments to distribute livestock away from riparian and overgrazed areas in Blackfoot River watershed.
Statewide — Use data previously collected from Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming to answer questions regarding roles of climate, wolf predation and habitat quality on elk calf recruitment.
Partners for 2009 projects in Montana include Bureau of Land Management, University of Montana, Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, U.S. Forest Service, other agencies, corporations, landowners and organizations.
An additional $159,503 remains in the 2009 RMEF project budget for Montana. A second round of grant proposals will be reviewed later this year. A committee of RMEF staff, volunteers and partner representatives will select projects for funding.
Since 1984, the Elk Foundation and its partners have completed 605 conservation projects in Montana with a value of more than $113 million.
About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Snowy peaks, dark timber basins and grassy meadows. RMEF is leading an elk country initiative that has conserved or enhanced habitat on over 5.5 million acres — a land area equivalent to a swath three miles wide and stretching along the entire Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico. RMEF also works to open, secure and improve public access for hunting, fishing and other recreation. Get involved at www.rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.