Photo Credit:Rare Earth Science, LLC
MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation teamed up with conservation-minded landowners and Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) to permanently protect 1,742 acres of prime elk and greater sage grouse habitat in northwest Colorado. The project also improves public hunting in a limited draw unit.
“We appreciate landowners who look outside of themselves and recognize the vital importance of protecting their land,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “Protecting this property will maintain its wildlife, agricultural and habitat values while also benefitting nearby public lands.”
The tract is nearly surrounded by public lands. It is also adjacent to the Diamond Breaks Wilderness Study Area and just a few miles away from Dinosaur National Monument and Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge.
“Projects like this protect migration corridors and enhance the connectivity of wildlife habitat. In this particular case, more than 238,000 acres of landscape are now knitted together for the benefit of wildlife and its habitat,” added Henning.
Located in the Pot Creek and Dry Creek watersheds, tributaries of the Green River, the property is key summer and winter range for big game and home to more than 500 elk as well as mule deer and other bird and animal life. It is also core greater sage grouse range and lies within a two-mile radius of leks in both Colorado and Utah, one of which contains more than 60 males.
Though the conservation easement is on private property, the landowner granted a public access easement to CPW allowing public elk hunts every year going forward in the highly limited draw unit of Game Management Unit 1.
“CPW will manage the hunts and public hunters will be allowed to access the landlocked BLM-administered lands,” said Bill de Vergie, CPW’s area wildlife manager from Meeker. “This is very beneficial for wildlife and our sportsmen and I’m glad to see it happen.”
The landowner previously placed a RMEF conservation easement on a 796-acre plot of adjacent ranch land immediately across the border in Utah