The Mule Deer Foundation (MDF) announced today expanded partnerships with the USDA Forest Service and the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that will leverage millions of dollars with MDF to implement habitat restoration projects across the West. The announcement, made during the Western Big Game Migration Forum held in conjunction with the Western Hunting & Conservation Expo at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Utah, expands upon decades of previous successful partnerships with both agencies.
The agreements with the Forest Service are for up to 20 years and will allocate as much as $60 million over the first 5 years for forest health projects that will improve wildlife habitat while also reducing the severity of wildfires, protecting communities, and improving the health and resiliency of fire-adapted forests. BLM announced it will provide up to an additional $5 million for habitat restoration projects that will focus on the sagebrush biome and conservation of mule deer corridors and habitat. These new partnerships will significantly increase MDF’s ability to address habitat concerns along the full length of mule deer seasonal migration corridors from summer range in mountain forests managed by the Forest Service to winter range often managed by the BLM and private landowners.
“The Mule Deer Foundation has significantly increased our commitment to habitat restoration and over the last few years we have implemented or funded 333 projects with $14 million that was matched or leveraged with another $62 million for a total of $76 million that benefitted approximately 392,000 acres of habitat treatments and 171 miles of fence removed or modified,” commented Mule Deer Foundation President/CEO Joel Pedersen. “This work with the Forest Service and BLM will allow us to greatly increase the scale and scope of MDF’s habitat projects. We thank Forest Service Deputy Chief Chris French and BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning for joining us at our annual convention to announce these incredible new partnerships that will result in even more work getting done on the ground.”
The wildfire crisis impacts MDF’s approach to conservation delivery of actions that focus on habitat enhancement or restoration, wildfire recovery and prevention, water availability, and climate resiliency. MDF’s experience in active habitat management, and specifically in forest and rangeland restoration, has positioned MDF as one of the leaders among conservation organizations in delivering the primary goals of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law as a stewardship partner on federal public lands.
“This agreement reflects our long-standing relationship with the Mule Deer Foundation and how we work together to support forest management on the national forests and grasslands,” USDA Forest Service Chief Randy Moore said. “Larger wildfires, more frequent natural disasters, and other disturbances continue to threaten the health of these public lands, especially wildlife habitat, habitat connectivity, and big game migration corridors. We must continue to come together and do this work in the right place, at the right time, and at the right scale. Together we can make strides to reduce wildfire risk across the country and improve the health and resilience of fire-adapted forests.”
“The Bureau of Land Management is proud to be a part of this important effort, based on longstanding partnerships with the Mule Deer Foundation and the U.S. Forest Service,” said BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning. “These types of collaborations are central to the approach of managing our shared public lands and will not only help protect the mule deer we all cherish, but countless other wildlife and natural resources that share their habitat.”
MDF has worked throughout the range of mule deer in different ecotypes—forest, rangeland, and grassland and is positioned well to work with the agencies to increase habitat resilience to a changing climate. In addition, MDF’s partnerships with the BLM have resulted in planting of shrubs and invasive plant treatments as well as improvements for better water retention on arid western rangelands. MDF has developed an organizational approach to landscape-scale, initiative-based conservation delivery and has identified and mapped numerous landscapes and herds where habitat work is needed. The new funding from the Forest Service and BLM will help MDF implement this Priority Herds & Landscapes approach to project implementation.
“These new partnerships will help MDF fast track our new Priority Herds & Landscapes initiative—we know where the work needs to be done, we have a growing staff able to deliver conservation and habitat restoration projects on the ground, and we have a strong history of working with our federal, state, and private landowner partners to make a difference for wildlife,” Pedersen concluded. “We thank the Forest Service and BLM for their faith in our ability to help them reach their goals for land management that will also meet our mission of ensuring the conservation of mule deer, black-tailed deer, and their habitat.”
The Mule Deer Foundation is the only conservation group in North America dedicated to restoring, improving and protecting mule deer and black-tailed deer and their habitat, with a focus on science and program efficiency. MDF is a strong voice for hunters in access, wildlife management and conservation policy issues. MDF acknowledges regulated hunting as a viable management component and is committed to recruitment and retention of youth into the shooting sports and conservation. Get involved in your state or become a member at www.muledeer.org or call (801) 973-3940.
The Mule Deer Foundation is the only conservation group in North America dedicated to restoring, improving and protecting mule deer and black-tailed deer and their habitat, with a focus on science and program efficiency. MDF is a strong voice for hunters in access, wildlife management and conservation policy issues. MDF acknowledges regulated hunting as a viable management component and is committed to recruitment and retention of youth into the shooting sports and conservation. Get involved in your state or become a member at www.muledeer.org or call 1-888-375-3337.