Elk foundation begins $14 million project in Missoula

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation broke ground Friday on a new $14 million headquarters and Elk country Visitor Center.

Hundreds of members and staff joined the festivities, including Bob Munson. Twenty years ago, the RMEF began in the back room of his trailer house-real estate office in Troy.

By The Associated Press

‘‘It has been a wild ride,” Munson said. ‘‘I am thrilled about this building,” he said, remembering the succession of trailers, garages, an old doctor’s office and a remodeled tractor factory that did duty as foundation offices over the years.

‘‘We’ve come a long way,” Munson said. ‘‘But don’t think for a minute that we’ve arrived. We are just warming up.”

Tom Baker of Kentucky, chairman of the RMEF board, said that over two decades the group has conserved or enhanced more than 4 million acres of elk habitat throughout North America.

The future promises more of everything — more habitat at risk, more need for conservation, more money to raise and members to recruit, more success stories to share, he said.

Dozens and dozens of volunteers came carrying tokens from their days afield — hunting elk or restoring habitat — to place in a glass box that will form part of the display in the new visitor center. They included rocks, bones, necklaces, teeth, poetry, an arrow and a radio collar for monitoring an elk’s movement.

When complete in July 2005, the new headquarters will include three centers: the Elk Country Visitor Center, a volunteer service center and an international support center where the group’s 100 paid employees will work.

Information from: Missoulian,

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