Michigan, celebrating 100 years of elk, gets boost from RMEF

(Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)

The Michigan DNR will celebrate 100 years of elk in Michigan with a special event Saturday, Sept. 8 in Gaylord, the DNR announced Thursday, Sept. 6 – a day after it was announced that the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation had awarded more than $30,000 in grant funding to benefit elk, elk habitat and hunting programs in the Wolverine State.

In 1918, seven elk from the western U.S. were released near Wolverine to re-establish Michigan’s elk population. Now, Michigan is home to more than 6,000 RMEF members and 19 chapters. RMEF volunteers raised the funds by hosting banquets, membership drives and other events, the organization said in a news release.

RMEF’s 2018 projects in Michigan, listed by county:

Cheboygan County

  • Remove brush and invasive autumn olive from 70 acres of openings and seed with annual rye to build soils that will later be planted to cool season legumes that are more palatable for elk and other wildlife in the Pigeon River State Forest and can be maintained by mowing and fertilizing.
  • Remove all brush and small trees to maintain and restore openings across 111 acres of the Pigeon River State Forest while also tilling and planting vegetation to benefit elk and other wildlife.

Otsego County

  • Provide funding for a conservation easement to permanently protect 56 acres of prime wildlife and riparian habitat along the Pigeon River.

Macomb County

  • Provide funding for equipment to benefit the Trinity Lutheran School’s archery program in Clinton Township that teaches 6th through 8th grade students about archery, teamwork and competition.

Statewide

  • Provide funding for the two-day Michigan Youth Hunter Education Challenge in Lansing that offers youth an opportunity to test their skills at a variety of hunting techniques under simulated hunting conditions. The event includes archery, muzzleloading, shotgun and .22 rifle shooting in addition to wildlife identification, orienteering and hunter safety and ethics.

RMEF funded its first Michigan project in 1990, a three-year cooperative study with the DNR and Michigan State University to collect data on the movement and population of Michigan’s elk. At the time, Michigan’s elk herd was the only wild, free-ranging huntable elk herd east of the Mississippi.

Since 1990, RMEF and its partners completed 159 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects with a combined value of more than $5.4 million. These projects protected or enhanced 5,897 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 877 acres.

Michigan project partners include the DNR as well as other sportsmen, outdoor industry, additional organizations and private landowners.

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