Salt Lake City, Utah: The Mule Deer Foundation (MDF) announced today that it is starting a Wildfire Disaster Fund to raise much needed funding to help restore western landscapes that have been devastated by massive wildfires. MDF will use 100 percent of the donations to the Fund for the restoration of mule deer and black-tailed deer habitat in areas impacted by fire.
“This summer will go down in history as one of the worst fire seasons in North America due to unprecedented drought that has contributed to massive wildfires. The restoration cost will be in the millions of dollars and federal and state agencies will be challenged to fully meet the needs,” said MDF President Miles Moretti. “MDF has existing stewardship agreements with both the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service that will allow us to jump in right away and help with the restoration process. That’s why we started the Wildfire Disaster Fund – so that MDF and our volunteers can pitch in with dollars and hard work to help get these burned areas back to being quality wildlife habitat.”
The National Interagency Fire Center reports that over 9 million acres have been burned this year as compared to 6 million acres burned/year over the last ten years. Over 454,000 acres are still actively burning in California, Montana and Washington.
Leveraging MDF dollars with state, federal and local agencies will help restore critical habitat areas. Areas that had significant loss of vegetation may require more aggressive reseeding of native grasses or planting of native shrubs and forbs – projects that MDF chapters have helped with in the past. In particularly hard hit areas, it may be necessary to support emergency winter feeding to avoid losing deer to starvation if it’s a tough winter. In addition, MDF’s Habitat Stewardship projects will focus on working with agencies and private land owners to improve forest health to mitigate the impacts of future wildfires.
“We’re asking our members, and everyone who cares about wildlife in the West to step up and donate to the Wildfire Disaster Fund,” Moretti continued. “While it has been a bad fire season, it’s time now for us all to work together to restore critical mule deer and black-tailed deer habitat.”