Foundation system

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation: Preservation Through Perseverance

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) operating out of Missoula, Montana has worked tirelessly to conserve rocky mountain elk people for decades. The RMEF boasts efforts for habitat improvement, outreach programs, game reserves and educational content for its members and elk hunters across the continent.

Founded in 1984, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has blossomed from humble beginnings into a network of over 500 chapters and over 231,000 members. Through years of effort, the RMEF has preserved over 8.3 million acres of elk habitat. His main publication, bugle magazineremains active.

RMEF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with special tax-exempt status, making tax reporting available to the public. These include salaries of key employees, sources of income and expenses, and assets and liabilities. The main sources of revenue for the RMEF are contributions (which include donations of land that can be advertised as acquisitions), corporate sponsorships, and income from various investments. The public keeps this organization afloat.

Their slogan, “Hunting is Conservation,” along with a significant portion of their funding reinvested in public hunting access and anti-poaching efforts, has not wavered in ever-changing political climates. This non-profit organization has stayed true to its vision over the years while providing the public with a return on their investment.

History of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

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RMEF was founded on May 14, 1984 by four avid hunters in northwestern Montana. Sacrifices through private funding and loans from just these four people sparked the start of the now leading conservation organization for North America’s elk populations. Bob Munson, Bill Munson, Dan Bull and Charlie Decker had every reason to drop out early in the development of this organization. Their plan to get boots in the field was a subscription to RMEF’s unpublished magazine, and that was about it. Of their original 43,000 solicitations for hand-folded brochures, only 233 people responded. Perseverance led these men to borrow even more money to fulfill the promise for those original 233 respondents. They printed 32,000 copies of Bugle and hand-delivered them to gas stations, grocery stores and more in the western United States. As a result, the RMEF had nearly 2,500 members in one year, and then grew.

The RMEF has an impressive list of milestone achievements from its inception until today. In Spokane, Washington, the first convention in 1985 led to the RMEF later raising enough funds for a prescribed burn in Libby, Montana along Elk Creek. The organization made further strides in 1988, acquiring the Robb Creek property in Montana, receiving its first endorsement from Anheuser-Busch, and increasing the number of memberships and chapters across the country. RMEF also moved its headquarters to Missoula, Montana that same year. In 2014, the RMEF passed the milestone of 200,000 members and held a special commemoration in Troy, Montana.

Conservation efforts

Big bull elk running with elk cows during the rut north of Yellowstone National Park near the town of Gardiner, Montana in the western United States.

John Morrison via Getty Images

Conservation efforts have now totaled over $1 billion and spread across the United States. This organization defines its conservation efforts as multi-faceted. Responsible hunting practices and regulations, habitat improvement and preservation, and even participation in litigation, help RMEF adhere to its mission and purpose. In 2019, RMEF, with Guidefitter and Nevada Bighorns Unlimited, promised $5,000 to International Wildlife Crimestoppers, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting North America’s wildlife resources through sustainable use and support for conservation law enforcement.

In 2020, RMEF backed crucial litigation in Oregon to “increase the reporting, exposure, and prosecution of wildlife crimes. $4.4 million has been split among three agencies to fund new personnel and equipment critical to these efforts.” Remington also partnered with the RMEF for the year to “increase the visibility of poaching incidents in an effort to reduce poaching nationwide”. This year, Fiocchi Ammunition also partnered with RMEF.

Habitat stewardship projects for the RMEF include prescribed burns, forest restoration, wildfire repair efforts, and habitat reconstruction. All are proposed and completed to enhance elk ranges and natural habitats. Some projects may target invasive flora, including conifers and weeds, while others may target reseeding after scorching wildfires. Impressively, the RMEF recognizes the benefits of natural wildfire cycles and their impacts on the environment. Their efforts to fund prescribed burns are designed to prevent catastrophic events that cause further damage to natural habitats and structural damage over huge areas.

RMEF 2022 projects include seeding, noxious weed management, water development repair and wildfire restoration in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Utah, State of Washington and Wyoming.

Membership, Commitment and Reach

Two bow hunters tracking elk in a mountain range in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States check their location using GPS on a mobile phone.  One of the men holds an elk growl tube between his knees.  The other man is holding a crossbow.

Fly See productions via Getty Images

The RMEF may have had humble beginnings, but that hasn’t stopped the group from adapting to changing public engagement styles, expanding outreach efforts, and recruiting new volunteers, partners, donors. and members each year. With over 500 chapters and nearly a quarter million members across the United States, the hard work has paid off for RMEF.

Membership in the RMEF is a tiered system, and the RMEF offers those interested the opportunity to register through their online platform or by telephone. Tiers and pricing only recently changed in 2020 to accommodate new discount programs with partners such as Browning, Eberlestock and Traeger.

Membership levels range from $35 annual sustaining membership, in which the member receives an annual subscription to Bugle magazine, to $1,500 lifetime membership. This top-tier membership option includes a lifetime subscription to Bugle magazine, a custom Tundra 45 cooler from YETIexclusive gear, freebies, access to clothing, and discounts on car rentals and office supplies.

The RMEF often offers promotions, giveaways, and raffles as incentives to induce membership upgrades (and, therefore, more revenue), donations, and general public engagement. Sponsorship of various events, chapter banquets and fundraising events ensures that the RMEF’s presence remains well known in the hunting community.

RMEF has a management team as well as a board of directors. Their board of directors is elected annually. Members can serve terms of two or three years in total, where their leaders can be hired from outside the organization or promoted internally. Currently, there are 16 positions on the board, including the positions of chair and vice-chair.

There isn’t much to review in the research I conducted on the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. From humble beginnings to national reach, their conservation efforts and partnerships resonate among big game hunters and wildlife enthusiasts who want to make a real difference in preserving hunting heritage, habitat and populations. of elk for generations.


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