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MDF Awarded Rocky Mountain Rangelands Grant

MDF Awarded Rocky Mountain Rangelands Grant

Mule Deer Foundation Receives Grant from National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for Habitat Work

Salt Lake City, Utah: The Mule Deer Foundation (MDF) announced today that it has received $395,000 in funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s (NFWF) Rocky Mountain Rangelands grant program. The grant funding will support MDF’s Migration Corridor and Winter Range Initiative and be matched by $756,000 to implement habitat projects that focus on big game migration corridors and greater sage-grouse core areas. The new grant expands upon a 2018 Sagebrush Landscapes grant through NFWF that allowed MDF to launch the initiative, which has resulted in collaborative projects in several western states. With the new funding, MDF will expand the coordination between conservation partners across jurisdictional boundaries in order to increase the number and quality of habitat projects in western rangelands that benefit mule deer and other wildlife.

A strutting sage grouse on a dancing lek.

“The Mule Deer Foundation’s Migration Corridor and Winter Range Initiative has been our conservation focus for the last three years since NFWF helped kickstart our efforts in 2018, and the new Rocky Mountain Rangelands grant will allow us to grow these collaborative conservation efforts,” said MDF President/CEO Joel Pedersen. “MDF has the ability to work across state boundaries and with a wide range of federal, state, local, and nonprofit partners. The NFWF grant and matching funding will give us even more opportunities to improve rangeland habitat across the West.”

Since the signing of Department of the Interior Secretarial Order 3362 in 2018, MDF has been a leader in coordinating efforts to improve rangelands and sagebrush landscapes that are in state-identified priority big game migration corridors and seasonal ranges. Many of these areas also overlap with key sage-grouse habitat and provide benefits to the more than 300 species that depend on sagebrush rangelands throughout their lifecycle. MDF has worked with the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, private landowners, and others to further refine priority areas for project implementation based on ecological need, partnership opportunities, funding availability, and overlap of mule deer and sage-grouse priority areas. Project goals through the new NFWF grant include 12,000 acres of annual invasive species removal, at least 10 miles of fence removal or modification, 3,000 acres of sagebrush shrubland restoration, and 300 acres of invasive juniper removal in sagebrush habitats in several western states.

Aerial spraying to control invasive species like Cheatgrass, Japanese bromme, and Medusahead

“MDF is constantly working to maximize our conservation impact by working at the landscape level, leveraging funds to implement habitat projects, providing the best technical advice and leadership through highly experienced employees, and targeting habitat conservation efforts where mule deer need the most help,” noted MDF Director of Conservation Steve Belinda. “The team we have built through the support of NFWF and other funding is highly effective, as evident from the amount of work we complete each year and the influence we have in the policy arena. The new Rocky Mountain Rangelands funding will allow MDF to continue to function at this high level and provide much needed on-the-ground conservation where it is needed most.”

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