MISSOULA, Mont. — Ninety acres of prime elk habitat is now permanently protected and opened to public access in northern Idaho. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and partners worked with private landowners to purchase and convey their property to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG).
“This is a unique project that touches on several positive facets of both conservation and access. It benefits elk and other wildlife, forestland, riparian habitat and boosts public access for hunting and fishing,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “We thank the McKee Family and Idaho Fish and Game for their vision and cooperation in making this happen.”
The Smelterville Flats property is in a historic mining area between the towns of Pinehurst and Kellogg with its southern edge bordering the South Fork Coeur d’Alene River. The parcel features 50 acres of forest, 32 acres of floodplain habitat and eight acres of wetlands.
“Increasing efforts are being made to restore fish habitat and recover native Westslope cutthroat trout in the South Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River,” said Andy Dux, IDFG regional fishery manager. “We are very excited about this acquisition because it benefits fish conservation, improves public access to the river and benefits other wildlife.”
The transaction protects fish habitat and enhances opportunities for stream and wetlands restoration. It also improves access to state lands to the east. At its western boundary, the property adjoins the Trail of the Coeur d’Alene’s, a rail trail beginning at the Idaho-Montana border that follows the Union Pacific Railroad right-of-way across Idaho to Washington.
Additionally, IDFG plans to construct a fishing access site on the premises.
The property is near several past RMEF habitat stewardship efforts as well as the 2019 Reeds Ridge project that is now in the public’s hands.
About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Founded more than 36 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of more than 231,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 8.1 million acres for elk and other wildlife. RMEF also works to open and improve public access, fund and advocate for science-based resource management, and ensure the future of America’s hunting heritage. Discover why “Hunting Is Conservation™” at rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.