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Magazine honors Elk foundation founders

by Western News
| November 22, 2009 11:00 PM

While compiling a list of 25 people who have had the greatest impact on hunting, fishing and conservation, Outdoor Life magazine made sure to include two founders of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Charlie Decker of Libby and Bob Munson of Lynwood, Wash., are part of the magazine’s third annual “OL 25” list honoring leaders, innovators, conservationists and unsung heroes.

Photos and bios are scheduled to appear in the December/January 2010 edition.

“When we step into the woods or wade into a clear mountain stream, we rarely stop to think about the many people who have made enjoying that experience possible,” Outdoor Life Editor-in-Chief Todd Smith said. “Yet there are thousands who devote their time, talents and energies to building this way of life we call hunting and fishing. Most are just ordinary sportsmen who’ve done extraordinary things – and Bob Munson and Charlie Decker are perfect examples.”

In 1984, Munson and Decker led a charge to launch a conservation organization focused on habitat for elk and other wildlife. Now 25 years later, RMEF is one of the nation’s most effective wildlife outfits, having conserved or enhanced more than 5.6 million acres and helped restore elk herds to historic range across the country.

RMEF has more than 150,000 members in 500 chapters nationwide and a volunteer force that donates countless hours each year to fundraising and on-the-ground conservation efforts.

“We owe it all to Charlie and Bob,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “They started this movement, took personal risks and made sacrifices to see it through tough times, and continue to serve on our board. They are the Elk Foundation’s heart and soul.”

Decker owns and operates Decker Logging of Libby. Munson works in sales for MunsonWorks, a Lynnwood, Wash., firm specializing in inclined elevators.

The Outdoor Life list also includes Sen. Jon Tester for introducing the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act. Tester wrote the legislation with input from Montana loggers, conservationists, hunters, anglers and motor sports enthusiasts who worked together to find common ground on a new plan for managing Montana’s forests.

“There’s something for everyone, but not enough for a single group to claim victory,” Outdoor Life writes.  “The collaborative agreement is being eyed by conservationists across the nation as a model for resolving similarly intractable issues.”

The Forest Jobs and Recreation Act’s purpose is to create jobs and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire through timber harvest and restoration activities in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge, Kootenai and Lolo national forests.  It was also designed to create permanent recreation areas and safeguard some of Montana’s best hunting and fishing spots.

“Now, thanks to a U.S. senator with a flat-top haircut and a butcher’s build, hunters will be able to access these lands, watersheds will be preserved and unemployed loggers and mill workers will go back to work,” Outdoor Life writes.

Tester, who is vice chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, introduced the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act in July, after holding several listening sessions in Montana to seek public input about the legislation.