Grant funding provided by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will improve 22,065 acres of wildlife habitat across 18 Montana counties including Missoula. Mark Holyoak with RMEF said the projects will be everything from prescribed burning to noxious weed treatments—and all in support of the elk foundation's mission: looking out and ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, and their habitat.

"We've got three different projects that were approved for Missoula County this year, I believe two of the three have taken place," Holyoak said. "One of them was a forest thinning, another burn project in the Lolo National Forest. Also earlier this year was the Bonner Outdoor Fest 2015. It was a family event that had educational activities about wildlife, shooting and outdoor activities, those sorts of things. We're just trying to tackle these things little pieces at a time."

"Prescribed burning, meadow restoration and noxious weed treatments are just a few of the many projects funded by these grants that will enhance habitat for elk and other wildlife," RMEF president and CEO David Allen said. "In addition, wolves continue to remain well above minimum objectives and this funding will help managers better determine how many wolves are on the landscape and where they’re located so they can be better managed."

Holyoak said projects like these come to RMEF’s attention from small groups dispersed among over 25 different "elk states" where they pitch different ideas for such projects like the ones performed in Missoula.

"These projects will be pitched by different groups for funding," Holyoak said. "We get the funding from our volunteers who when they have banquets and other fundraising activities, they're the ones that generate the funding. Then we'll take that amount of funding, we'll go back and meet together as a group, we'll go over all the different habitat enhancement or hunting heritage projects that are available, and everyone agrees on what's best and we forward from there."

Holyoak said the 2015 grants total $386,080 and directly impact Beaverhead, Broadwater, Carbon, Deer Lodge, Jefferson, Flathead, Lewis and Clark, Lincoln, Madison, Missoula, Petroleum, Powder River, Powell, Rosebud, Sanders, Stillwater, Sweetgrass and Teton Counties.

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