MISSOULA, Mont. — A significant section of an important northwestern Colorado elk and mule deer migration corridor will remain undisturbed thanks to a collaborative conservation effort by landowners and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
“We appreciate the willingness of the Keystone Ranch to enter into this volunteer conservation agreement,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “Thanks to their vision and prudent stewardship, the wildlife values of 11,752 acres will remain intact going forward.”
The Keystone property is approximately 15 miles northwest of Meeker and features a landscape varying from grasslands, sagebrush shrubs and canyons to aspen and conifer woodlands, cultivated croplands and riparian areas. In all, it provides vital elk calving and winter range, and is also home to sage grouse, pronghorn antelope, black bears and other wildlife.
The Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) Action Plan indicates the acreage encompasses the state’s number-one priority migration corridor used by Colorado’s two largest migratory herds, the White River elk and mule deer herds. Up to 10,000 thousand elk cross the property twice each year.
The agreement also cements hunter access to the private property since it finalizes a 20-year access easement with CPW through its Ranching for Wildlife Program, which it administers. Hunters will have access to a specified number of hunts annually while additional time is set aside solely for wildlife viewing.
“As an example of how prudently the landowners utilize their land, they use a grazing cycle where each pasture rests for two years for the benefit of livestock and wildlife alike. That’s a win-win,” added Weaver.
Great Outdoors Colorado, CPW, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Gates Family Foundation provided financial support for the easement and access.
About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Founded more than 38 years ago and fueled by hunters, RMEF maintains more than 225,000 members and has conserved nearly 8.4 million acres for elk and other wildlife. RMEF also works to open and improve public access, fund and advocate for science-based resource management, and ensure the future of America’s hunting heritage. Discover why “Hunting Is Conservation™” at rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.