MISSOULA, Mont.— – The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will fund conservation projects in Arizona this year that improve elk habitat by adding water and rejuvenating forage.

RMEF grants for 2012 total $152,620 and directly affect six counties: Apache, Coconino, Navajo, Randolph, Yavapai and Yuma.

An additional project has statewide interest.

““Our organization worked for many years to improve watering sources for elk and other wildlife in Game Management Unit 9, and those efforts continue in 2012. Increasing water availability and spreading out the watering locations is expanding usable habitat and mitigating any effects of wildlife concentrating in limited areas,”” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. ““All together, the water and habitat improvements that we’re funding this year will enhance 12,107 acres of Arizona elk country.”

“RMEF’’s mission is to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. Since 1985, the organization and its partners completed 398 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Arizona with a combined value of more than $35.8 million.”

Funding for RMEF grants is based on local membership drives and banquet fundraising by RMEF chapters and volunteers in Arizona. Allen thanked RMEF supporters for their dedication to conservation both in Arizona and all across elk country.

RMEF grants will help fund the following 2012 projects in Arizona, listed by county:

Apache County – —Provide sponsorship for the White Mountains 2012-13 Youth Hunter Camps to introduce young people to traditional outdoor recreation and conservation (also affects Navajo County).

Coconino County— – Develop a 30,000-gallon, underground, gravity-fed water catchment to provide a reliable water source for elk and other wildlife in Game Management Unit 9; provide sponsorship for a special 3-day hunter education course with approximately 150 people in attendance near Flagstaff; prescribed burn and mechanical thinning on 12,000 acres in Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest to maintain habitat benefits created by the Rodeo-Chediski 2002 wildfire and reduce risk of intense future fire behavior (also affects Navajo County).

Navajo County – —As part of a multi-year project, remove encroaching pinyon/juniper to improve forage for elk on 2,467 acres south of State Highway 260 in the Railroad Allotment area of Kaibab National Forest.

Randolph County— – Provide sponsorship for White Mountain Trap and Skeet Club youth shooting team participation in the Scholastic Clay Target Program national championships.

Statewide – —Provide sponsorship for Unit 6A-Mormon Lake 2012 Youth Elk Hunting Clinic to educate young people on hunting techniques, regulations and safety.

Yavapai County – —Provide sponsorship for Prescott Valley AAEC High School to purchase equipment in order to launch a National Archery in Schools Program.

Yuma County— – Provide sponsorship for Yuma Young Guns 2012-13 Scholastic Trap and Skeet Program to engage students in traditional outdoor recreation and conservation.

Conservation projects are selected for grants using science-based criteria and a committee of RMEF volunteers and staff along with representatives from partnering agencies and universities. RMEF volunteers and staff select hunting heritage projects to be funded.

Partners for 2012 projects in Arizona include the Arizona Game and Fish Department, U.S. Forest Service and other agencies and organizations.

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