MISSOULA, Mont. — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation successfully collaborated with two local landowners to acquire and convey 239 acres of big game habitat in western South Dakota to the Black Hills National Forest (BKF). The property, previously a private inholding within BKF, is now in the public’s hands and open for hunting and other recreational activities.
“This project not only protects habitat and connectivity for elk, mule and whitetail deer, turkey and other game species but it ensures quality hunting opportunities today and for future generations,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “Properties surrounded by national forest lands are at risk of development, which would create impacts for wildlife and recreation throughout the surrounding forest. And for that reason, the U.S. National Forest Service considered this property a high priority.”
The property is in the heart of Black Hills elk country, home to more than 6,000 elk. Located near Hill City, it features aspen and mixed conifer habitats, meadows and grasslands that supply abundant wildlife habitat.
“The Black Hills National Forest is very excited about this acquisition, which secures and protects these lands for future wildlife conservation efforts and public recreation opportunities, and values the partnership with RMEF, to negotiate and facilitate this purchase,” said Meagan Buehler, Black Hills National Forest lands program manager.
Since the headwaters of Cold Springs Creek originate on the property, it provides quality riparian habitat for mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds including waterfowl, songbirds and raptors.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund supplied recreational access funding for the project.
RMEF previously carried out dozens of conservation and habitat projects in the region including Wildcat Canyon and Grand Canyon of the Black Hills, just across the border in Wyoming.
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 more than 8.6 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.