The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation honors and reveres its volunteers and members while celebrating its 31st anniversary of land and wildlife conservation work.
“Entering our fourth decade of conservation successes, we fully recognize that the organization would not be anywhere close to where it is today without the tireless and passionate dedication of our hard-working volunteers and the staunch support of our membership,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “They selflessly give of their time and talents in helping the RMEF carry out its mission of ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.”
Officially established by four hunters in northwest Montana on May 14, 1984, the RMEF founders created a vision to safeguard elk, elk hunting and the habitat they need to thrive. At that time, there were approximately 550,000 elk in North America. Today, there are well over one million.
RMEF has a membership of more than 205,000, including an army of 11,000 volunteers in 500-plus chapters around the nation. To date, those volunteers helped the RMEF carry out 9,336 projects to protect or enhance more than 6.6 million acres of prime habitat for elk and other wildlife while also opening or securing nearly 770,000 acres of land for hunters and others to enjoy. RMEF also helped restore elk to their native range in six states and one Canadian province.
2014 statistics for reported* on-the-ground volunteer projects:
• 1,039+ volunteers
• 10,329 hours
• 155+ projects
• 111+ chapters represented
• 31 states
(*Many volunteer projects are unreported while others are unreported or not yet captured in the RMEF data base. These reported projects do not include significant volunteer numbers or time supplied for chapter banquets and other fundraising events.)
Volunteer activities in 2014 included removing old fencing, planting trees, pulling noxious weeds, hunter education instruction, hosting youth and wounded veteran hunts, installing wildlife water guzzlers, serving as mentors at youth camps, thinning encroaching conifers from meadows, building exclosures around recovering aspen stands, teaching kids about elk and elk habitat, removing “No Hunting” signs on lands protected by RMEF that are now in public ownership, and many other activities.
“It is important to pause and recognize significant accomplishments and milestones as an organization, but going forward we have much more to do. Looking ahead to our fourth decade, we pledge to keep a foot on the gas pedal by doing more conservation and hunting heritage outreach work than ever before,” added Allen.