Elk NetworkNearly 12,000 Acres of Eel River Peninsula’s Tule Elk Habitat Protected, Opened to Public Access

Conservation , News Releases | July 26, 2021

MISSOULA, Mont. — Thanks to the strong conservation ethic and vision of a northern California landowner, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is pleased to announce nearly 12,000 acres of tule elk habitat is now permanently protected and in the public’s hands.  

The conservation transaction conserves critical forestlands from threats of conversion and builds upon the Eel River Peninsula Conservation Strategy to protect up to 70,000 acres of northern California’s coastal wildlife habitat. 

“Seldom can one man make such a positive impact on one wildlife species, but that is exactly what Rich Padula has done,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “His actions over a number of years cement a conservation legacy that benefits the future of tule elk as well as other wildlife.” 

RMEF purchased 8,092 acres of the 11,902-acre tract about 125 miles north of San Francisco and conveyed it to the adjacent Mendocino National Forest, thus opening it to public access and protecting critical tule elk and other wildlife habitat. Previously, with a generous donation from the Wyss Foundation, the Trust for Public Land purchased 3,000 acres adjacent to RMEF’s project and conveyed it to the national forest as an addition to the Yuki Wilderness. 

“We thank Mr. Padula for his generosity and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for its assistance in facilitating the transfer,” said Ann Carlson, Mendocino National Forest supervisor. “Located between the Sanhedrin and Yuki Wilderness Areas, the parcel provides excellent backcountry access and connectivity through large tracts of superior habitat.” 

A majority of funding for the project came from the landowner’s generous bargain sale, the Land and Water Conservation Fund and a Wyss Foundation grant, with additional financial support from RMEF and the Trust for Public Land. 

“Thanks to the foresight of the landowner and leadership of Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Trust for Public Land, this incredible piece of land is now open and accessible for all to enjoy,” said Molly McUsic, Wyss Foundation president. “Establishing permanent access and a guarantee the land will be in public hands is a gift to California and to the American public.”  

About the Eel River Peninsula Conservation Strategy: 

In 2006, Padula and RMEF formed a landscape-scale partnership called the Eel River Peninsula Conservation Project, an effort seeking protection of more than 70,000 acres of tule elk habitat. Since then, multiple partners utilized a combination of conservation easements and this latest land protection/access project to protect more than 36,000 acres of that total, with the potential of more projects in the works. Project funders included Coastal Forestlands, U.S. Forest Service, California State Wildlife Conservation Board, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Trust for Public Land and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Project support is vast with the State of California and nationally.  

“California is the only place in the world to find wild, free-ranging tule elk. And the Eel River Peninsula landscape is at the northern end of the species’ geographical range,” said Jennifer Doherty, RMEF director of lands and access. “Partnerships are at the heart of this tremendous conservation legacy that will solidify critical conservation of tule elk habitat.”  

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation: 

Founded more than 37 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of more than 231,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 8.1 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.