MISSOULA, Mont. – The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation presented the Bob Torstenson family with its highest honor, the Wallace Fennell Pate Wildlife Conservation Award, to honor special contributions of lasting significance for the benefit of elk and elk country.
“Bob Torstenson’s passion and the gift of his New Mexico ranch will have incredibly positive ramifications for RMEF, elk, elk habitat and the ability to pass on our hunting heritage to our kids and grandkids for generations to come,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO.
Torstenson gifted his sprawling 93,403-acre Double H Ranch to RMEF in 2002. A recent transfer in ownership of the since renamed Torstenson Wildlife Center established the Torstenson Family Endowment (TFE). RMEF will solely use proceeds from the $30 million TFE to further its core mission programs of permanent land protection, habitat stewardship, elk restoration and hunting heritage. It also allows RMEF to increase project funding by attracting matching funds both from the private and public sectors, and allows RMEF to more quickly head off the habitat changes and challenges taking place across the country.
Eric Torstenson, Bob’s youngest son, along with Eric’s wife Gwen, accepted a bronze sculpture on behalf of his late father and family in front of a standing ovation of more than 1,000 people during the 29th annual RMEF Elk Camp national convention, which ended March 3 in Las Vegas.
“This is all my father’s doing. He absolutely loved elk. He loved elk, loved kids. And both of those together is what RMEF in his eyes can be and is,” Eric said. “In the long run, so many lives, so many animals, a lot of land – it’s just going to be touched in a broad sphere.”
“In keeping with Mr. Torstenson’s wishes, priority 1A for endowment funds, right up there alongside habitat protection, is support for youth programs. We have to not only help more kids get outdoors and developing some skills, but also start selling the hunting heritage message – that hunting is conservation – to help youths and the non-hunting public see how our wildlife system functions, and how hunting is such a critical part of that,” added Allen. “Priority 1B is hunting access. We’re especially interested in searching for, identifying and developing solutions to challenges of public wildlife on private land.”
RMEF maintains a conservation easement on the entire ranch, thus conserving and protecting the habitat forever.
Wallace Fennell Pate, RMEF’s first president and chairman of the board, dedicated his time, energy and financial resources for the betterment of wildlife in North America. Now deceased, Pate became a national role model for groups or individuals concerned with natural resources conservation.