Elk NetworkUSFS Receives RMEF Elk Country Partnership Awards

General | December 21, 2021

Below is a news release from the U.S. Forest Service.

This month, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) presented three plaques to the Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Region (Region 5), Mendocino National Forest, and Region 5 Realty Officer Kathy Valenzuela for their roles in finalizing the Sanhedrin Land Acquisition this past summer. These prestigious awards commemorate a conservation success that benefits both local wildlife and public recreation for generations to come.

The Sanhedrin land parcel is located between the Yuki and Sanhedrin Wilderness Areas on the Eel River Peninsula and is now part of the Mendocino National Forest. This land’s transfer into the public’s hands secures the permanent protection of nearly 12,000 acres of tule elk habitat.

“California is the only place in the world to find wild, free-ranging tule elk,” Jennifer Doherty, RMEF Director of Lands and Access explained. “This conservation transaction was important for the future of tule elk, and it provides habitat connectivity for salmon, steel-head trout, and other wildlife as well.”

This acquisition also builds upon the Eel River Peninsula Conservation Strategy, a landscape-scale effort that aims to protect up to 70,000 acres of northern California’s coastal wildlife habitat.

To date, the collaboration between Region 5 and RMEF has resulted in the completion of over 100 conservation and hunting heritage projects, with a combined value of over $24 million. These projects have protected or enhanced over 72,000 acres of habitat and improved or opened public access to more than 14,000 acres of land.

“These successes, and the Sanhedrin Land Acquisition in particular, are reflections of diverse partners and all levels of the Forest Service coming together to complete projects that both care for the land and serve people,” said Diana Craig, Region 5’s Deputy Director of Ecosystem Management.

This acquisition was also made possible through funding from the Great American Outdoors Act, specifically the Land and Water Conservation Fund that provides money to federal, state, and local agencies to purchase land, water and wetlands for the benefit of all Americans.

The finalization of the transfer was made possible with additional funding provided by a landowner’s generous bargain sale, a Wyss Foundation grant, the Trust for Public Land, and the RMEF.

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation award certificate for Region 5 given in 2021“The protection of this critical forested land from the threat of conversion was made possible by diverse stakeholders sharing a conservation vision,” said Tami Sabol, the RMEF National Liaison for the U.S. Forest Service. “Bringing a project to the finish line is so much more rewarding with a partner because it is all about relationships.”

About the RMEF & USFS Partnership

The RMEF and the U.S. Forest Service have partnered together for over thirty years. The RMEF aims to secure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage through habitat stewardship wildlife management, permanent land protection, critical wildlife research, conservation education, and improving access to public lands. Through staff and volunteer support, privately raised funding, and legislative advocacy, the RMEF contributes nationally to USFS projects and programs.

(Photo credit: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)