MISSOULA, Montana-Wild elk haven't roamed the Maryland countryside in over a century, but the species remains an inspiration to the state's Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation members. These devoted conservationists raise money to ensure the future of elk in other states-and fund public education efforts at home.
Nine Maryland counties including Anne Arundel, Baltimore City, Caroline, Cecil, Charles, Garrett, Hartford, Montgomery and Queen Anne's are slated for conservation education events using $10,158 in new grants from the Elk Foundation.
Four additional projects have statewide interest.
David Allen, president and CEO of the Montana-based Elk Foundation, said, "Our volunteers and members in Maryland 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 and education work, and it's part of the payday for supporters who are passionate about giving something back to the outdoors."
RMEF grants will help fund the following Maryland projects, listed by county:
Anne Arundel County-Sponsor Kids & Cops 2009 Youth Field Day in Pasadena to introduce youths to safe hunting and fishing.
Baltimore City-Sponsor Upper Bay Greenwing Youth Event hosted by Ducks Unlimited in Baltimore to build interest in conservation and outdoor recreation.
Caroline County-Sponsor Maryland 2009 National Hunting and Fishing Day celebration at Schrader's Bridgetown Manor in Henderson to introduce the public to hunting, fishing, sport shooting and conservation.
Cecil County-Sponsor Northern Chesapeake Sportsmen for Kids 2009 Field Day in North East to introduce youths to hunting, fishing, sport shooting and conservation.
Charles County-Sponsor Patuxent Sportsmen for Kids 2009 Youth Field Day in Waldorf to introduce youths to conservation and outdoor recreation.
Garrett County-Sponsor Cecil County Forest Conservancy college-credit conference in Sudlersville for high school students interested in a career in forestry or natural resource management (also affects Montgomery and Garrett counties).
Hartford County-Sponsor Mason-Dixon Outfitters 2009 Youth Hunt Day in Pylesville to introduce youths to conservation and hunting, including an actual bird hunt.
Montgomery County-Sponsor Maryland 2009 National Hunting and Fishing Day celebration in Germantown to introduce the public to outdoor recreation and conservation.
Queen Anne's County-Sponsor Maryland 2009 Junior Hunter Field Day in Sudlersville to provide youths with opportunities to learn from Maryland Department of Natural Resources professionals (also affects Montgomery and Garrett counties).
Statewide-Sponsor the Maryland Legislative Sportsmen's Foundation, which assists the Maryland Legislative Caucus in advancing issues related to hunting, fishing, sport shooting and conservation; sponsor Maryland Natural Resource Police Wildlife Display, a mobile exhibit that will appear at fairs and other events to educate the public about native species; sponsor Maryland National Archery in the Schools for 2009-2010 to introduce students to archery; provide support for redesigned Maryland RMEF Web site as a resource for hunters and conservationists.
Since 1984, the Elk Foundation and its partners have completed more than 54 education and conservation projects in Maryland with a value of more than $440,000.
Partners for 2009 projects in Maryland include the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, local sportsmen associations, retailers and conservation organizations.
Support from Maryland RMEF members helped reintroduce elk into parts of their historic range in Kentucky, Tennessee and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Those herds are now expanding into Virginia and West Virginia. Pennsylvania also has a thriving elk herd. Funding from Maryland is currently helping to build a new Elk Country Visitor Center in central Pennsylvania, which will be the largest elk viewing and conservation education facility in the eastern U.S.
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 5.6 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.
Steve Wagner, Blue Heron Communications, 800-654-3766 or firstname.lastname@example.org