August 18, 2019

Public Access Secured to 41,000 Acres in Southwest Montana

Press Release from Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.-The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation teamed up with a private landowner, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), US Forest Service (USFS), Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) and local sportsmen groups to secure permanent public access to approximately 41,344 acres of public lands in time for Montana’s 2014 general big game hunting season.

“This strikes at the very core of our mission,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “RMEF is committed to seeking and finding avenues like this particular project to open public access for increased recreational opportunities like hunting.”

RMEF funding assisted in the purchase of a 30-foot wide permanent road easement to cross 0.66 miles, in three separate road segments, of a private ranch through two drainages in the Medicine Lodge area approximately 35 miles southwest of Dillon in Beaverhead County. The project improves access to both the Tendoy and Beaverhead Mountains.

More specifically, the easement provides 0.16 miles of motorized access to Ayers Canyon (Hunting District 328) between the Medicine Lodge Road and BLM ownership as well as motorized access to Kate Creek (Hunting District 302) through two private segments of 0.29 and 0.21 miles on the northwest corner of Ellis Peak. (These areas are also included in Hunting District 300 for antelope.) The road previously alternated between BLM and private ownership, and the public portions are designated as Road 70095 on both the BLM and USFS ownership. (See maps here.)

“These types of collaborative efforts continue to ensure that sportsmen and women have access to public lands throughout Montana,” says FWP spokesperson Ron Aasheim. “Partnerships are key to FWP’s management of resources which we hold in trust for all Montanans.”

“Improving public access to encourage the public’s responsible use and enjoyment of their lands and resources continues to be a high priority for BLM, both locally and nationally,” said Cornie Hudson, BLM Dillon Field Office Manager. “The partnerships that made this project possible could be a model for future access projects of this nature. Thank you partners!”

RMEF also partnered with the BLM Dillon Field Office in 2013 to complete construction on a road project that re-opened and improved public access to more than 9,355 additional acres at Cow Creek in the Medicine Lodge drainage.

“When you combine our work from last year with these two new projects, RMEF has now improved access to more than 50,000 acres of public lands in this drainage over the last two years alone,” said Blake Henning, RMEF vice president of Lands and Conservation.

Other project partners include the Beaverhead Outdoors Association and the Skyline Sportsmen’s Association.

Since 1984, RMEF has opened or secured access to more than 215,000 acres in Montana and 758,000 acres nationally across elk country for hunting, hiking, fishing, camping and other outdoor activities.

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RMEF Helps Protect, Secure Access to Vital Washington Elk Country

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation teamed up with the Cowiche Canyon Conservancy (CCC) and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to permanently protect and secure access to 2,893 acres of elk habitat in south-central Washington.

“This is an important step toward conserving crucial habitat in a key elk migration corridor between higher elevation summer range and winter range on Cowiche Mountain,” said Blake Henning, RMEF vice president of Lands and Conservation. “This also thwarts significant development pressure taking place on nearby lands from occurring on this key corridor.”

Located about 15 miles northwest of Yakima on the east slope of the Cascade Mountains, as many as 2,800 elk migrate across the property that is also home to mule deer, bighorn sheep and other species of wildlife. The project also encompasses the North Fork Cowiche Creek headwaters where WDFW plans to re-introduce steelhead.

“Conservation of key fish and wildlife habitat and securing public access are top priorities for the Department and working with our partners is essential to achieving those goals,” said Mike Livingston, WDFW south central regional director.

“It’s not often you get to protect nearly 3,000 acres of habitat and also protect a sustainable historic grazing operation that produces locally sourced grass fed beef,” said Betsy Bloomfield, CCC executive director. “The combination of habitat and recreation protection with a cultural legacy makes this a wonderful project, secured by the collaboration among great partners.”

For a century, the landscape has been shared between the elk moving across it in the spring and fall, and during the summer by cattle belonging to the homesteading Rightmire and Decoto families, who later combined to form the Tieton Cattle Association.

“We need to recognize and thank the Tieton Cattle Association which kept the native grasses and forbs in great condition while grazing their cattle on this same land during the summer,” added Henning.

Since 1985, RMEF and its partners completed 521 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Washington that positively affected more than 427,000 acres with a combined value of more than $110.6 million.

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Wolves in Government Clothing

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Hunters Are Losing Access to Hunting Land at Incredible Rate

According to a report from the Spokesman Review and HunterSurvey.com, 23 percent of hunters surveyed said their usual hunting lands had been closed and this resulted in a 7 percent decrease in the amount of time spent in the woods hunting.

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