Elk NetworkGreat American Outdoors Act Paying Big Dividends

Conservation | December 3, 2021

In an effort to raise awareness about one of the most important conservation landmarks in recent memory, the U.S. Forest Service recently unveiled a story maps about the Great American Outdoor Act.

Signed into law in August 2020, the act permanently and fully funded the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) which appropriates $900 million annually from federal offshore drilling fees for the protection of important land, water and recreational areas for all Americans to enjoy.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation used LWCF funding over the years to help protect more than 168,000 acres of important elk habitat and open access to more than double that amount of land across a dozen states. Below are several recent 2021 examples.

Eel River, California – RMEF worked with a landowner to protect and place nearly 12,000 acres of tule elk habitat into the Mendocino National Forest. The transaction builds upon the Eel River Peninsula Conservation Strategy to protect up to 70,000 acres of northern California’s coastal wildlife habitat.

Southern Elkhorns, Montana – RMEF and several partners acquired 1,418 acres of wildlife habitat in the southern Elkhorn Mountains and conveyed it to the Beaverhead-Deer Lodge National Forest. It provides year-round winter habitat for elk, deer, bears, moose and many other wildlife species.

Wasatch Mountains, Utah – RMEF worked with a landowner to protect nearly 4,900 acres of elk habitat in north-central Utah. Not only does it provide spring, summer and winter range for elk and other wildlife but it is also an important calving area and migration corridor.

Northern New Mexico – RMEF worked with three families to protect nearly 1,200 acres of elk habitat and convey it to the Bureau of Land Management. The property is part of a landscape used by about 10,000 elk that move back and forth between Colorado and New Mexico.

RMEF played an intimate, key role in the process. In March 2020, Senators Steve Daines (R-Montana) and Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) secured a meeting with President Trump and several staffers in Washington D.C. Daines then reached out to RMEF to acquire high-quality maps, photos and other details about RMEF’s Falls Creek project, which permanently protected 442 acres of wildlife and riparian habitat along Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front and greatly improved access to 27,000 acres of public land beyond.

During their meeting, Daines shared project details with the president including how $250,000 in LWCF funds helped close the transaction. President Trump then stated that “sealed the deal” for him and he called on Congress to send him a bill to provide permanent, dedicated funding to LWCF.

(Photo credit: Morgan Timms)