Mule Deer Foundation Increases Conservation Projects, Grows Conservation Team for Work in California

The Mule Deer Foundation (MDF) has added two key conservation staff positions in California to support the growing habitat projects the organization coordinates. Over the summer, MDF has been involved in dozens of projects across the mule deer and black-tailed deer range. Projects have focused on the organization’s priority activities of post-fire restoration, invasive plant management, water availability, and reducing barriers to wildlife movement. The two new positions helping to implement these projects include Chris Daunt, a conservation ranger focused on the Plumas National Forest, and Zach Craft, a habitat projects coordinator who will implement restoration projects in the Modoc National Forest.

“The Mule Deer Foundation conservation program continues to grow, and with the growth, MDF is adding key, qualified staff to increase the beneficial impact we are having in fulfilling our mission,” said Mule Deer Foundation President and CEO. Joel Pedersen. “Whether it is removing barriers to deer movement and migrations through fence modifications or improving the health of forests and grasslands through habitat restoration projects, MDF is making a significant difference on the ground for the mule deer and the black-tailed deer”.

MDF projects emphasize priority habitat goals for the organization. For example, in the Medicine Bow/Routt National Forest and adjacent private lands in southern Wyoming, MDF implemented a brush-cutting project to improve forage in the critical winter range, treated invasive plants, and collected seeds for future harvests. shrub planting projects. In Arizona, MDF continues chewing, cutting and spreading projects on more than 1,200 acres of the Apache-Sitgreaves and Kaibab National Forests to improve vegetation; Similar projects are underway in Colorado and Utah. Fence modification projects have been completed in Idaho, Montana and Arizona, and in Idaho, wildlife jumps have been repaired along the migration corridor of Highway 28. MDF presence in California also increased this year with reforestation of more than 100 acres in Mendocino National Forest and preparation for more than 300 additional acres in Lassen National Forest, brush chewing in Stanislaus National Forest, post-fire tree removal in Lassen National Forest and Plumas National Forests, installation of two guzzlers burned in the Whaleback Fire in the Lassen National Forest, and more. The work in California has expanded due to the addition of two new conservation staff positions this year.

Chris Daunt, who started with MDF in the spring, is a conservation forester based out of the Plumas National Forest Supervisor’s office in Quincy, California. His focus is working to improve wildlife habitat and promote overall forest health in the Plumas National Forest, which has had numerous large wildfires in recent years. He graduated from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly) with a bachelor’s degree in Forestry and Natural Resources and spent five years working with the timber industry in Northeast California before joining MDF. Chris is a Registered Professional Forester through the California Board of Forestry, a Certified Archaeological Surveyor through CAL FIRE, and an FAA Certified UAV (Drone) Pilot.

As a Habitat Project Coordinator working with the Modoc National Forest in California, Zach Craft will lead habitat projects to benefit mule deer in the Long Bell Game Refuge and to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfires in the Doublehead ranger districts. and Big Valley. Zach received his undergraduate degree in Natural Resource Conservation with a concentration in Natural Resource Policy and Planning from the University of Montana. His previous work focused on recreation management for the US Forest Service in Montana and California.

“Our conservation team is working very hard to develop innovative partnerships to expand the number of habitat management projects we undertake each year,” concluded MDF Conservation Director Steve Belinda. “We are excited to see our team grow in areas with key partners like the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and other agencies so we can see even more work being done on the ground.”

About MDF
The Mule Deer Foundation is the only conservation group in North America dedicated to restoring, enhancing and conserving mule deer and black-tailed deer and their habitat, with a focus on science and program efficiency. MDF is a strong voice for hunters on issues of access policy, wildlife management, and conservation. MDF recognizes regulated hunting as a viable management component and is committed to the recruitment and retention of men, women and youth in shooting sports and conservation. Get involved in your state or become a member at or call 801-973-3940.