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RMEF Announces Grants for Conservation Projects in Utah

Elk, other wildlife, stand to benefit from the projects

 

From RMEF Press Release

MISSOULA, Mont.--Fighting invasive, encroaching vegetation and restoring native forage for elk and other wildlife are the main themes in a list of 2011 grants for Utah from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Combined, the new RMEF funding totals $174,700 and affects 16 counties: Beaver, Cache, Carbon, Duchesne, Emery, Garfield, Grand, Iron, Millard, Piute, San Juan, Sanpete, Sevier, Tooele, Uintah and Utah.

An additional RMEF-funded conservation project--researching best designs for wildlife road crossings--has statewide interest.

"Fire suppression has slowly allowed pinyon and juniper to overtake many areas where elk once grazed, and non-native plants like cheatgrass are further reducing both the size and nutritional value of grasslands across Utah," said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. "Our grants this year are focused on restoring Utah elk country to a more natural and pristine condition."

He added, "All together, the habitat improvement projects that RMEF is funding this year could add at least 18,000 acres to the 891,256 acres that we've previously helped to conserve or enhance for wildlife in Utah."

Nationally, RMEF hopes to impact about 100,000 acres in 2011 to reach the 6 million acre lifetime mark in lands conserved or enhanced for elk and other wildlife.

Allen thanked RMEF volunteers and fundraiser attendees for building the organization's grant coffers in Utah, saying, "Because of their amazing passion and generous support, a major conservation milestone is within reach."

RMEF grants will help fund the following 2011 projects, listed by county:

  • Beaver County--Improve water availability for elk and other wildlife by increasing storage capacity of an existing guzzler in the Woods Reservoir area of the Wah Wah Mountain Range.

  • Cache County--Prescribe burn 1,392 acres to restore aspen and improve forage for elk in the Right Hand Fork area of Logan Canyon in the Wasatch-Cache National Forest.

  • Carbon County--Prescribe burn 603 acres to improve forage for elk and reduce hazardous fuels in the Price Canyon Recreation Area of BLM lands northwest of Helper Utah; clear pinyon-juniper encroachment from 745 acres in Fish Creek and Dugout Creek areas of BLM lands.

  • Duchesne County--Thin 657 acres of ponderosa pine to improve understory shrubs, grasses and forbs for elk, moose, mule deer, turkey and other wildlife in the Petty Mountain area of Ashley National Forest.

  • Emery County--Aerially seed native grass and forbs and remove pinyon-juniper encroachment to improve 541 acres of elk habitat on BLM lands in the Grimes Wash area of Manti Mountains.

  • Garfield County--Install a 10,000-gallon guzzler to provide water for elk, turkey and other species in the Dry Hollow area of Dixie National Forest.

  • Grand County--Thin encroaching pinyon-juniper from 900 acres of sagebrush flats used by elk and other wildlife in the Book Cliffs area between Cedar Camp Ridge and Willow Flats; aerially seed native grass, forbs and shrubs on 324 acres in Moon Ridge area of Book Cliffs; prescribe burn and seed 1,100 acres on the San Arroyo Burn Pasture in the Cisco Desert of BLM lands near the Colorado/Utah border.

  • Iron County--Mulch and hand-thin encroaching pinyon-juniper on 1,700 acres of sagebrush-steppe habitat used as winter range by elk on BLM land southeast of Beaver, Utah. This is the sixth year of an ongoing project to improve habitat on over 9,000 acres in the area (also affects Beaver County).

  • Millard County--Aerially apply herbicide to reduce and control cheatgrass invasion on 645 acres of elk habitat northeast of Holden, Utah.

  • Piute County--Thin pinyon-juniper to improve 1,000 acres of sagebrush-steppe habitat used by elk and mule deer in the City Creek area of Fishlake National Forest; install exclosure fencing to prevent overbrowsing in five aspen stands in the Box Creek area of Monroe Mountain in Fishlake National Forest (also affects Sevier County).

  • San Juan County--Thin encroaching pinyon-juniper from 800 acres of elk winter range in the Dry Wash, Johnson Creek and Recapture drainages of Manti La-Sal National Forest; re-seed native vegetation on 1,311 acres as the first phase of a larger project to improve habitat in the Peters Canyon area of BLM lands north of Monticello, Utah.

  • Sanpete County--Remove encroaching pinyon-juniper from 607 acres of ponderosa pine, sagebrush and cottonwood habitat used by elk and other wildlife in the southern portion of the Ferron Ranger District of Manti La-Sal National Forest (also affects Emery County).

  • Sevier County--Improve elk and deer transitional habitat on 268 acres by mechanically treating pinyon-juniper and aerially seeding native grass and forbs in the Old Woman Plateau area east of Salina, Utah; remove pinyon-juniper, treat cheatgrass and re-seed native vegetation on 966 acres south of Glenwood, Utah.

  • Statewide--Continue research on the effectiveness of different sizes, types and locations of wildlife road crossings across Utah. Results will help determine most effective designs to allow elk and other wildlife to move safely under and over roads.

  • Tooele County--Remove pinyon-juniper encroachment on 150 acres of sagebrush-steppe habitat used by elk on the west side of Deep Creek Mountains on BLM lands; remove pinyon-juniper and reclaim areas damaged by illegal OHV use to improve forage on 1,561 acres in the foothills of the Oquirrh Mountains of BLM lands.

  • Uintah County--Construct temporary exclosure fencing to prevent over-browsing by elk on 14 young aspen stands covering 60 acres in Book Cliffs area; mechanically thin 392 acres of pinyon-juniper encroachment to restore sagebrush habitat in the Boulevard Ridge area of Book Cliffs.

  • Utah County--Improve forage for elk and mule deer by removing pinyon-juniper on 242 acres in Spanish Fork Canyon of Manti La-Sal National Forest.

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.

Partners for 2011 projects in Utah include Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, U.S. Forest Service, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, other agencies, organizations and landowners.

Since 1985, RMEF and its partners have completed 315 different conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Utah with a combined value of more than $30.4 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 5.9 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.

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