July 16, 2009
Kentucky Hunting Access Grows with Elk Foundation Help
MISSOULA, Mont.—By facilitating agreements between corporate landowners and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has helped open or secure over 250,000 acres for public hunting access.
The milestone was recognized at a recent meeting of agency commissioners.
Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources Commissioner Dr. Jon Gassett said, “The Elk Foundation has been vital in this process—without them we wouldn’t be nearly as successful in obtaining these landowner agreements. The Elk Foundation gets things done with coal and timber companies that we, as an agency, have a hard time accomplishing. They have built a great relationship with landowners in Kentucky.”
Participating companies include Molpus Timberlands, KY River Properties, Begley Lumber and International Coal Group. Some lands were previously closed, others were historically open but scheduled to be leased—each situation was different.
David Ledford, initiative director for the Elk Foundation in Kentucky, explained, “Each agreement is different because each landowner had specific goals and sideboards. We worked with companies on an individual basis and helped them determine how to structure hunting access on their lands. Some agreements came together quickly, others took time, but the results are good news for hunters in Kentucky.”
At a June 11 meeting, Gassett presented Ledford and RMEF Regional Director Bill Carman with limited edition art prints as a token of thanks from Kentucky hunters.
Most of the state’s 11,300 elk are on private lands. More than 46,000 people applied for a chance to hunt them, and this fall more than 1,000 lucky selectees will take to the hills in pursuit of a Kentucky elk. Helping hunters and other wildlife enthusiasts access this growing resource is imperative, says Ledford.
Gassett said, “The coal industry has done great things for wildlife in Kentucky. In fact, without the coal industry, elk wouldn’t be here. We appreciate what they’re doing for public hunting access, too.”
For more information and regulations governing public hunting opportunities on corporate lands, visit the KDFWR Web site at http://www.kdfwr.state.ky.us/.