Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s Great Elk Tour scheduled to make a stop in Steamboat | CraigDailyPress.com

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s Great Elk Tour scheduled to make a stop in Steamboat

Audrey Dwyer

— Six gigantic bull elk heads are not commonly seen on the side of a trailer. But with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Great Elk Tour, it is an expected sight.

For the first time, the tour will be in Steamboat Springs from 2 to 6 p.m. Friday, April 10 near Straightline Sports at the corner of Eighth Street and Lincoln Avenue and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 11 at Elk River Guns, 1320 Dream Island Plaza.

"It's pretty impressive to see because you rarely see elk like this in the wild and to see such a mature, exceptionally large bull" is a great opportunity, said Winston Walker, co-chairmen of the local Northwest Colorado chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for the last 20 years. "It's exciting for anyone to see what a majestic animal it is."

"The bulls are three to four times the size hunters in Routt County normally see," said Bill McKelvie, also a co-chair of the local chapter. "They are just huge."

It's an opportunity the community won't see again for another 15 to 20 years, said Jeff Sexton, who helped bring the display here. The cost to host the tour is $4,000 with travel costs and other expenses. Members from the local chapter helped donate funds toward the two-day event.

"Most of the time this traveling displaying is only shown at big shows or regional and national conventions," McKelvie said. "Rarely does it come to a small town like Steamboat."

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The Steamboat chapter is one of two chapters in the nation to have this tour accompany its annual banquet.

The banquet, benefiting the national foundation that preserves and enhances wildlife habitats, will be held at 4:30 p.m. April 11 in the Sheraton Ballroom. There will be a dinner and raffle packages with a number of valuable prizes.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is a conservation organization that was founded in 1984 and continues to thrive today with a mission to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and hunting heritage. Over the years, the foundation has conserved more than 6.3 million acres of elk country and has secured acres to nearly 670,000 acres of previously off-limits land.

With help from local chapters, the foundation commits itself to conserving, restoring and enhancing natural habitats in addition to educating the public about conservation, the value of hunting, ethics and wildlife management, Walker explained.

"Whether we are successful in a hunt or not, we get excitement just from that thrill of being outdoors in this beautiful valley," Walker said. "It's about giving back because we want to protect that for future generations."

Last year alone, the local chapter raised $50,000 from its annual banquet. The funds were used to support projects similar to the conservation easement project at Flying Diamond Ranch on Colorado Highway 131.

"The thing is, RMEF is not doing all of this alone," McKelvie said. "We work with state wildlife agencies and conservation groups to achieve a common goal, to ensure conservation and preservation of critical habitats."

For ticket information and to RSVP to attend the annual Steamboat benefit, contact Kim Symalla at 970-846-4823.

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email adwyer@ExploreSteamboat.com or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1

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