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MISSOULA, Mont. — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners awarded $542,481 in grant funding to enhance wildlife habitat and assist scientific wildlife research in New Mexico. RMEF directly granted $71,481 and leveraged an additional $471,000 in partner dollars.

"New Mexico features beautiful landscapes and prime habitat but it can also be extremely dry and arid. Some of this funding goes directly toward water developments to help elk and other wildlife during seasons they need it the most," said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. "Additional funding is earmarked to benefit grasslands, meadows and research centered on predator-prey relationships."

New Mexico is home to more than 4,100 RMEF members and 13 chapters.

"The only reason this funding is available to be put back on the ground is because of the dedication of our volunteers and members," said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. "We salute and recognize them for their fundraising efforts."

Since 1987, RMEF and its partners completed 431 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in New Mexico with a combined value of more than $44.9 million. These projects protected or enhanced 534,960 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 109,620 acres.

Below is a list of New Mexico’s 2020 projects, shown by county.

Catron County

  • Remove encroaching pinyon-junior growth across 90 acres of historic grasslands in the Reserve Ranger District on the Gila National Forest as part of a multi-year effort to increase forage and reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire.
  • Install a new wildlife water development along an elk migration corridor on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) within the Pelona Mountain landscape. It includes the construction of fencing to keep out livestock but allow wildlife to enter.
  • Thin 676 acres of pinyon-juniper, ponderosa pine and mountain mahogany within selected canyon bottoms, swales and ridges on BLM-managed land as a pre-treatment for a future prescribed burn.
  • Provide funding to remove silt from four wildlife water developments in the Reserve Ranger District caused by runoff following the 2012 Whitewater-Baldy Complex Wildfire.
  • Provide funding to benefit research designed to better understand relationship dynamics between elk and Mexican gray wolves. Scientists placed more than 400 GPS collars on elk and tagged an additional 200 calves. Findings will help biologists with future management decisions (also benefits Socorro and Sierra Counties).

Lincoln County

  • Construct a pipe fence to protect a wet meadow at Benado Gap within the Smokey Bear Ranger District on the Lincoln National Forest. A new unauthorized road threatens the meadow and its use by elk and other wildlife. The fencing will still allow use by hikers and those on horseback.
  • Construct fencing around the only wetland on Grindstone Mesa within the Smokey Bear Ranger District on the Lincoln National Forest. It will allow access to elk and other wildlife but not feral horses that can damage riparian habitat.

Project partners include the Bureau of Land Management, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, Lincoln and Gila National Forests, and various conservation groups and organizations.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Founded more than 36 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of nearly 235,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 7.9 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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20191110