By Emily Stifler
Big Sky resident Kelli Delzer tagged her first elk when she was 13. She still loves to hunt and believes fiercely in land conservation.
She and her husband Pete are longtime supporters of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and both of them, as well as their three grown children, are life members.
“I believe in the mission statement, which is basically ‘conserve, protect and enjoy,’ ” Kelli said. “We hope to instill that belief in others,” she added.
Pete is the Chair of the Yellowstone-Taylor Fork Chapter of RMEF, and with help from fellow volunteers and committee members Kelli, John Flach, and Angela Search, runs the Big Game Banquet in West Yellowstone every June. None of the group’s volunteers, committee members, or donors are paid or receive any other services for their work.
Near Big Sky, in the mid-90s the Foundation was part of a larger land exchange project in which they coordinated with the Forest Service and FWP to protect land that might otherwise have been developed. Notably, RMEF acquired 640 acres in the Taylor Fork drainage, and 6182 acres in the Porcupine Drainage.
It’s not just about the elk, Kelli says. It’s also about protecting wildlife habitat, in general.
She and Pete plan to take their grandchildren hunting one day, and they believe that without the land acquisitions for which they’re striving through RMEF, that may not be possible because of the rate at which land is being lost to development.
The Yellowstone-Taylor Fork Chapter is the smallest in the state, Kelli says, but that doesn’t mean it lacks support. She noted many individuals, foundations, and local establishments that donate to the Foundation’s local efforts.