The eighteen-year-old Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, based in Missoula, Montana, has reached a milestone in the protection of habitat for elk and hunters. Through land gifts, conservation easements, and purchases from willing sellers, the Elk Foundation and its partners have permanently protected one million acres of elk habitat.
In 2002, another 169,269 acres were added to the lifetime total of permanently protected habitat, passing the 1.2-million-acre mark. Within that total, 80 percent-now more than I million acres-is elk habitat that’s also open for public access.
“Hunting is such an important part of the Elk Foundation’s roots and culture. More than 95 percent of our members are hunters, so this milestone is a real source of pride for our organization,” said Steve Wagner, communications director for the organization.
“We need good habitat to support elk and elk hunting, but America is losing habitat at a rapid pace,” Wagner added. “The American Farmland Trust estimates that 24 million acres, or 11 percent, of Rocky Mountain ranch land will be converted to other uses by 2020. A lot of country is going to be removed from the realm of possibilities for wildlife as well as hunters. Our million-acre landmark is a great accomplishment, but the Elk Foundation has a lot more work to do. And we need to do it fast.”
Copyright Sports Afield, Inc. Aug 2003
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