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Oregon Elk Habitat gets RMEF Grants

05/20/14 -- Grants totaling $265,000 provided by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will fund 20 different habitat enhancement projects in 14 different counties in the state of Oregon. The 2014 grants will positively affect a combined 11,020 acres in Benton, Crook, Curry, Douglas, Grant, Harney, Jackson, Josephine, Lake, Lane, Lincoln, Morrow, Union and Wallowa Counties.

“These grants will fund noxious weed treatments, prescribed burning, seeding and planting, meadow restoration, forest thinning and other projects designed to improve forage for elk, deer and a wide variety of other wildlife species,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO.

Allen thanked RMEF volunteers in Oregon for their efforts to raise the grant money through banquets, membership drives and other fundraising activities. He also thanked volunteers and members across the nation for their dedication to conservation.

“We cannot come close to carrying out our mission to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage without our volunteers. Their hard work makes all the difference for elk and elk country,” added Allen.

RMEF grants will fund the following Oregon projects, listed by county:

Benton County -- Co-sponsor 12th annual Youth Outdoor Day at E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area, an outdoor education and recreation event for kids ages 5 to 14 that teaches them about habitat conservation, hunting, fishing and the great outdoors.

Crook County -- Thin small conifers within and adjacent to aspen stands on 450 acres across the Marks Creek, Ochoco Creek and Canyon Creek watersheds on the Ochoco National Forest; burn previously cut juniper on 425 acres on the east side of the Maury Mountains northeast of Antelope Reservoir as a continuation of a wildlife habitat improvement project to enhance upland shrub habitat, improve water availability, and release aspen clones on winter range; and conduct juniper thin, hardwood release and fuels treatment on 859 acres to promote native grasses, bitterbrush and sagebrush steppe habitat in the Upper Beaver watershed on the Ochoco National Forest (also affects Grant County).

Curry County -- Apply weed treatment, prescribed burning and seeding on 391 total acres of the Siskiyou National Forest to maintain and enhance meadow habitat for Roosevelt elk.

Douglas County -- Expand a two-year effort by federal, state, private and tribal scientists who developed and validated new elk nutrition and habitat use models for management in northwest Oregon and western Washington to Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land in southwest Oregon while also providing hands-on career technical training and educational opportunities for youth (also affects Josephine County); and create forest openings on 18 acres and apply fertilization and shrub planting on 20 additional acres on the Diamond Lake Ranger District of the Umpqua National Forest as a part of a multi-year, collaborative effort to reverse declining Roosevelt elk population trends in the Western Cascades by improving forage condition and restoring early seral habitat.

Grant County -- Apply prescribed burning to 1,600 acres of winter range on the North Fork John Day Ranger District in the Umatilla National Forest to improve forage quality and quantity for approximately 150 to 200 elk that use the area during the critical late winter and early spring; treat 1,350 acres of juniper encroaching on winter range on the Phillip W. Schneider Wildlife Area to improve habitat for elk, mule deer, pronghorns, quail and turkeys while also reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire; and thin 300 acres of overstocked lodge pole pine stands to improve forage in an area with high summer elk use within the Pine Creek Wildlife Management Unit on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.

Harney County -- Thin 176 acres of conifers to increase vegetation diversity and improve the health and vigor of aspen, mountain mahogany, choke cherry and other important big game browse species on BLM lands approximately 16 miles northwest of Burns.

Jackson County -- Conduct prescribed burning of 101 acres on Huckleberry Mountain on the Rogue River National Forest to increase productivity of late summer forage for elk, black-tailed deer, great gray and flammulated owls, wild turkeys, bluebirds and other wildlife.

Lake County -- Thin conifer encroachment within 322 acres of aspen stands to improve habitat on elk summer range and calving areas on the Fremont-Winema National Forest.

Lane County -- Treat noxious weeds, plant native grasses and browse species, and place mineral blocks on 155 acres of a 1,422 acre elk emphasis area on the Willamette National Forest to lure elk and deer off of nearby private land; apply mowing and noxious weed treatment to Buckhead and West Fir seed orchards and a power line right-of-way to improve forage plus reinforce standing fences with metal posts to prevent vehicle access and a wildlife watering pond built by RMEF volunteers will receive bentonite treatment; apply herbicide, seeding, conifer encroachment control and browse cutback on 271 acres of Foley Ridge in the Willamette National Forest to improve forage for an elk herd previously numbered at 120 but more recently at 40; apply mowing on 300 acres of meadow and noxious weed treatment on 125 additional acres on the Siuslaw National Forest to improve declining grass, forb and brush habitats (also affects Lincoln, Douglas and Benton Counties); and treat 167 acres in overstocked plantations within the Indigo Wildlife Management Unit with prescribed burning, noxious weed treatments and other activities to increase forage quality for Roosevelt elk and deer as part of a larger project to ultimately enhance 1,650 acres on the Willamette National Forest.

Morrow County -- Apply prescribed burning to 2,300 acres in the Heppner Ranger District within the Monument Winter Range, the largest winter range on the Umatilla National Forest (also affects Grant County).

Union County -- Reduce young conifer density on 400 acres of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest to increase elk summer range forage.

Wallowa County -- Apply low intensity prescribed burning on 350 acres within the Chesnimnus Wildlife Management Unit on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest as part of a 10-year project to improve critical elk transition and summer range in an area where calf recruitment is poor; and apply 800 acres of noxious weed management across federal, state and private lands in the canyons and grasslands of the Grande Ronde and Imnaha River watersheds to improve critical winter and summer range as well as migration corridors and calving grounds for elk where several units are below management objectives (also affects Union County).

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 receive funding.

Partners for the Oregon projects include the Fremont-Winema, Ochoco, Rogue River-Siskiyou, Siuslaw, Umatilla, Umpqua, Wallowa-Whitman and Willamette National Forests; Bureau of Land Management, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife; and various sportsmen, wildlife, civic and government organizations.

Since 1986, RMEF and its partners completed 756 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Oregon with a combined value of more than $44.7 million that also opened or secured public access to 27,213 acres.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Founded over 30 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of more than 200,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 6.4 million acres for elk and other wildlife. RMEF also works to open and improve public access, fund and advocate for science-based resource management, and ensure the future of America’s hunting heritage. Discover why “Hunting Is Conservation™” at rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.

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