Arizona elk habitat awarded $1.3 million for upgrades
PHOENIX — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners were awarded more than $1.3 million in grant funding to support elk habitat enhancement and hunting heritage projects in Arizona.
RMEF directly granted about $232,000 and leveraged an additional $1.1 million in partner funding.
“One [grant] is focused on improving habitat for elk and other wildlife,” Director of Habitat Stewardship Programs Karie Decker told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Thursday. “Another grant program focuses on trying to bridge and bring important our hunting heritage such as those.”
Twelve projects benefit more than 17,000 acres across Apache, Coconino, Gila, Maricopa, Mohave, Navajo and Yuma counties. There are also three projects of statewide benefit.
Elk habitats in Coconino County will have young juniper trees removed that have been encroaching on 1,834 acres via mastication to restore grassland habitat on private land that lies between the Kaibab National Forest’s Tusayan and Williams Ranger Districts to benefit elk, pronghorn, other wildlife and livestock.
Meanwhile in Gila County, there will be a multi-year grassland restoration project on about 3,000 acres in the Deadman Mesa area on the Tonto National Forest.
Crews plan to create large, quality forage openings by removing junipers and non-palatable brush on elk year-round range. The project also reduces the threat of wildfire.
The grant dollars will also provide funding for manpower to carry out habitat enhancement work on the O’Haco Ranch.
Specifically, crews remove and repair fencing while also installing elk jumps where needed, and also construct three different wildlife water drinkers out of large tractor tires.
“We are in the brunt of the elk hunting season across most states right now and we are hearing a lot of great success stories of people just being in the outdoors,” Decker said. “If anyone wants to share those stories we welcome that and love to hear it.”
Arizona is home to nine RMEF chapters and nearly 7,000 members.