It was a rather modest but important gathering in the Wasatch Mountains of northcentral Utah near Soldier Summit Pass. Joined by representatives of the U.S. Forest Service and Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands (FFSL), the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation hosted a celebration to recognize and honor the Simonsen family for permanently protecting 4,900 acres of their land that serves as vital habitat for elk and other wildlife.
“We greatly appreciate and recognize Randy, Braden and other members of the Simonsen family for their vision and cooperation,” said Rob Andress, RMEF land program manager, who attended the event. “Any threat of development is gone as this wildlife habitat is now forever protected thanks to their conservation ethic.”
In March 2021, the Simonsens entered into a volunteer conservation agreement with RMEF that protects a swath of land surrounded on three sides by the Unita-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. It provides spring, summer and winter range for elk as well as an important calving area while also serving as a migration corridor for both elk and mule deer.
“We are excited that this collaboration between RMEF and the Simonsen family will contribute to maintaining a contiguous forested landscape in this rapidly developing area of Utah,” said Natalie Conlin, FFSL Forest Stewardship & Legacy Program coordinator. “We also commend the landowner’s ongoing management of this Forest Legacy property, and the important contributions it makes to the local economy.”
Everyone in attendance shared their individual experiences with the project and expressed appreciation for the teamwork and partnership so crucial to the success of the project. Numerous attendees also acknowledged the legacy the Simonsen family is leaving for future generations.
“It was only fitting that it was such a beautiful, sunny day, too,” added Andress. “Just a terrific way to celebrate a family, a group of committed partners and a conservation success.”
Photo source: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation – (left to right) Braden Simonsen, Rob Andress & Randy Simonsen