Today, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has members around the globe, with its world headquarters right here in Missoula, receiving thousands of visitors every year.

However, RMEF spokesman Mark Holyoak said the organization began as the dream of four elk hunters in a trailer in northwestern Montana.

"It was back in 1984 when four elk hunters up in the Libby-Troy area got to talking about how there were different groups for trout and pheasants, but nothing specifically for elk, so what can we do about that," said Holyoak. "They formed this nonprofit organization to try to ensure the future of elk and their habitat, and as a trickle down effect it has helped so many other species as well. It was quite a vision, even though they struggled financially for years, but we're now to the point where we have over 220,000 members around the world, and it's been a tremendous blessing for lots of folks."

Holyoak touted some major goals that have been accomplished through the organization over the past year.

"In December, we rolled over 7.1 million acres of land that was enhanced or conserved for elk habitat," he said. "Also, access to over a million acres has been confirmed. The RMEF has done over 10,500 hunting heritage or conservation projects, anything and everything we can do to spice things up out there."

RMEF has over 500 chapters in the United States. The world headquarters and visitor center is located on Grant Creek Road in Missoula.