Wyoming gets $300K-plus in grants for elk efforts

MISSOULA, Mont. — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation awarded $314,629 in grant funding to assist with elk research, habitat enhancement, permanent land protection and improving public access in Wyoming.

The grants benefit 42,586 acres across Albany, Big Horn, Campbell, Carbon, Converse, Fremont, Johnson, Hot Springs, Lincoln, Park, Sheridan, Sublette, Sweetwater, Teton and Washakie Counties. There is also one project of statewide benefit.

RMEF volunteers in Wyoming raised the grant funding by carrying out banquets, membership drives and other events.

A sampling of highlighted projects, listed by county:

Carbon County — Enhance 11,278 acres of critical winter range and summer range for elk and mule deer near Baggs via noxious weed treatment, removal of encroaching junipers, thinning serviceberry and removal of sagebrush from aspen stands in an area used by 3,000 mule deer.

Park County — Provide additional funding for a multi-year migration study that follows elk from low-elevation winter ranges on the east and southern slopes of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to high-elevation summer ranges mostly within Yellowstone National Park with its findings expected to guide future on-the-ground conservation efforts (also benefits Teton and Fremont Counties).

Sublette County — Provide funding for a conservation easement on the Hoback Rim in northern Sublette County bordering the Bridger-Teton National Forest and an existing RMEF conservation easement thus protecting vital wildlife habitat.

Sweetwater County — Provide funding to assist with the capture and collaring of elk calves as an extension of the Deer-Elk Ecology Research Project that began in 2015 to determine why elk populations are growing in southwest Wyoming while mule deer populations are struggling.

Statewide — Continue sponsorship of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Access Yes Program that seeks to secure access for hunters and anglers to private lands across the state.

Wyoming project partners include the Bighorn, Bridger-Teton, Medicine Bow and Shoshone National Forests, Bureau of Land Management, Wyoming Game and Fish Department and private landowners as well as sportsmen, government, civic, universities and other organizations.

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