July 25, 2013
RMEF Secures 640 Acres of Key Elk Habitat, Public Access in Washington
MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation worked with several partners to acquire and conserve 640 acres of elk habitat in south-central Washington. The tract of land will be conveyed to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
The Pine Canyon property, previously held by Western Pacific Timber, is an inholding within the Wenas Wildlife Management Area located just north of Wenas, northeast of Yakima and on the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains.
“Not only is this vital winter range now permanently conserved for elk and other wildlife but there is an important public access component to this project,” said Blake Henning, RMEF vice president of Lands and Conservation. “A private landowner could have purchased the property and closed a road running through it to surrounding public land. Now it will remain open providing access to those who want to hunt or otherwise enjoy it.”
Pine Canyon ranges from 3,000 to 4,200 feet in elevation. It is comprised of steep canyons and ridges dominated by shrub-steppe grassland with scattered stands of Douglas fir and ponderosa pine. The property is home to more than 200 elk during the winter. It is also important for mule deer, bighorn sheep, mountain lions, black bears, bobcats, eagles and quail.
“WDFW had this property targeted as a key conservation project for many years. We are grateful for a partnership that will now permanently protect it,” added Henning.
Funding for the project, in part, came from the Torstenson Family Endowment which is used solely to further RMEF’s core mission programs of permanent land protection, habitat stewardship, elk restoration and hunting heritage.
Since 1986, RMEF carried out more than 300 land protection and habitat enhancement projects in Washington positively affecting more than 319-thousand acres of habitat.