RMEF Funds Conservation Projects in Washington
MISSOULA, Mont.—Prescribed burns, forest thinning, and spraying for noxious weeds are treatments involved with the 20 conservation projects designed to improve elk country and forage in Washington. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation announced grants totaling $191,726 that will enhance habitat in 11 different counties: Asotin, Columbia, Cowlitz, Ferry, Garfield, King, Kittitas, Lewis, Pend Oreille, Skamania and Yakima.
“Invasive weeds and closing forest canopies continue to overtake many areas that once provided elk with plentiful forage on the forest floor,” said Blake Henning, RMEF vice president of Lands and Conservation. “These RMEF grants specifically target critical areas of elk summer and winter range for improvement.”
Since 1985, RMEF and its partners completed 498 different conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Washington with a combined value of more than $109 million.
“Funds from these projects are generated by RMEF volunteers in Washington through membership drives and banquet fundraising to enhance the future of elk and elk habitat in their state,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “We can’t say enough about their hard work and passion.”
Allen also thanked RMEF chapters and volunteers around the nation for their dedication to conservation all across elk country.
RMEF grants will help fund the following 2013 projects, listed by county:
- Asotin County—Improve elk range in the Blue Mountains by treating 2,300 acres for noxious weeds (also includes Columbia and Garfield Counties); revitalize forage plots of the Asotin Creek Wildlife Area (WA) (also includes Garfield County); burn 1,200 acres in the Umatilla National Forest to improve critical summer range; treat 325 acres of invasive weeds across public and private lands in Asotin County; treatment for Mediterranean sage control in Asotin Creek WA; and revitalize riparian area in Chief Joseph WA.
- Columbia County—Improve 1,015 acres of winter elk range in the Rainwater WA at the foot of the Blue Mountains by restoring grasslands via seeding and goat grazing on weeds; and rip and seed road closed to motorized access but still used illegally to improve elk security and summer range (also includes Garfield County).
- Cowlitz County—Improve 150 acres of winter elk range forage within the Mount St. Helens WA by applying fertilizer and lime; treat noxious weeds on 100 acres of winter range in the Toutle River drainage.
- Ferry County—Conduct two separate burn projects covering 940 acres in Colville National Forest to enhance forage and reduce threat of catastrophic wildfire as part of 7 to 10 year improvement plan.
- Garfield County—Improve elk security in the Cowlitz Valley by replacing old, ineffective gates with newer style to withstand snow loads and require less maintenance.
- King County—Thin trees and pile/burn slash to improve forage openings and increase huckleberry growth in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
- Kittitas County—Stabilize the soil in draws of the 2012 Table Mountain Wildfire area by reseeding with native grass seed in severely burned areas of the Colockum WA.
- Lewis County—Replacement of undersized gate in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest to protect wintering elk and keep out poachers.
- Pend Oreille County—Burn 217 acres of shrubs, timber stands and meadow habitat in the Colville National Forest to improve forage and woody browse species for big game with herbicide treatment to follow.
- Skamania County—Reduce noxious weeds through herbicide treatment on 90 acres of the former Wind River nursery fields in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest; seeding of former road bed on PacificCorp land to improve wildlife habitat; the installation of two gates to improve security of summer range; and construction of eight exclosures to monitor forage seeding and shrub regeneration.
- Yakima County—Apply herbicide to control knapweed and other noxious weeds on 300 acres of the Oak Creek WA to improve forage for the Yakima elk herd.
Conservation projects are selected for grants using science-based criteria and a committee of RMEF volunteers and staff along with representatives from partnering agencies and universities. RMEF volunteers and staff select hunting heritage projects to be funded.
Partners for 2013 projects in Washington include the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife; the Colville, Gifford Pinchot, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie and Umatilla National Forests; Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla; and various other organizations, corporations and private landowners.