|April 14, 2006|
Curt Yanish, BLM Fuels Management Specialist, 307-367-5350
Kathy Gunderman, BLM Pinedale Field Office, 307-367-5355
Steven Hall, BLM Wyoming External Affairs Chief, 307-352-0399
Al Christopherson, RMEF Director of Habitat Stewardship, 406-523-3478
Tom Waddell, RMEF Marketing Communications Specialist, 406-523-3497
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and BLM sign agreement to improve habitat, reduce fire danger in the Upper Green River valley
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) have partnered to improve forest health and wildlife habitat, with a focus on aspen stands, on 9,000 acres of public land in Wyoming’s Sublette and Lincoln Counties. The two organizations signed a Memorandum of Understanding at the Elk Foundation’s annual Pinedale Chapter Big Game Banquet in Pinedale, Wyoming on April 22.
“The aspen ecosystem is critical to providing healthy habitat for wildlife species in the area. Restoring healthy aspen stands also creates a natural green fuel break that will reduce the potential for catastrophic wildfires in the area,” said BLM Wyoming State Director Bob Bennett.
Work within the habitat enhancement project is expected to take place over the next ten years. The project area is within 123,000 acres of BLM land. Funding will come from a number of sources, including a $500,000 commitment from the BLM to be dispersed over the life of the project. Fundraising efforts by the Elk Foundation and the sale of timber byproducts from forest fuels reduction work will cover additional costs.
“When we finish this project, we will have restored aspen groves, created a healthier ecosystem and enhanced wildlife habitat,” said Curt Yanish, Fuels Management Specialist for the BLM’s Pinedale Field Office. Yanish oversees implementation of the Healthy Forests Initiative in Pinedale and actively sought a way for the BLM and the Elk Foundation to partner in a way to meet the initiative’s goals.
“The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is very excited to be a partner in this habitat restoration project with the Bureau of Land Management,” says Jim Gladen, Vice President of Lands and Conservation for the Elk Foundation. “This agreement is a landmark effort to create, in partnership, a new level of landscape habitat management for elk and other wildlife. We intend to continue to work together to build new partnerships with other organizations and donors to help bring this project to completion over the next ten years.”
The BLM and the Elk Foundation have a long history of conservation partnership. The value of the cooperative efforts of the non-profit organization and the agency through the years totals $45.6 million and has positively impacted over 1.2 million acres of public lands.
Founded in 1984 and headquartered in Missoula, Montana, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife and their habitat. The Elk Foundation and its partners have permanently protected or enhanced more than 4.5 million acres, a land area nearly twice as large as Yellowstone National Park. More than 450,000 acres previously closed to public access are now open for hunting, fishing and other recreation. The Elk Foundation has 153,000 members, a staff of 150 and nearly 11,000 active volunteers. To help protect wild elk country or learn more about the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, visit www.elkfoundation.org or call 800-CALL-ELK.
The BLM, an agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior, manages more land - 261 million surface acres - than any other Federal agency. Most of this public land is located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The Bureau, with a budget of about $1.8 billion, also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM’s multiple-use mission is to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. The Bureau accomplishes this by managing such activities as outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, mineral development, and energy production, and by conserving natural, historical, cultural, and other resources on the public lands.