Elk NetworkKentucky Access Project Receives Key Funding

Conservation | December 9, 2022

Hunters are one step closer to permanent access to a large swath of elk habitat in eastern Kentucky.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, in partnership with Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and The Nature Conservancy, will protect and manage 54,556 acres in eastern Kentucky for public recreation, sustainable forestry, drinking water security, and wildlife habitat and connect 274,000 acres of conservation land stretching into neighboring Tennessee. The land is home to Kentucky’s growing elk herd and will provide important habitat for birds including ruffed grouse and migratory songbirds as well as numerous at-risk aquatic species found in the many streams that cross the property. The entire property will be open for public use and enjoyment.

“RMEF always has and remains deeply invested in the success of Appalachian elk herds. The Cumberland Forest – Ataya conservation and access agreement is a significant step in protecting the future of elk in Kentucky. This project will permanently secure a historic level of public access for all people while ensuring continued working forest and habitat management.” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “RMEF is grateful for our long-standing partnership with NFWF and applauds the collaboration of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and The Nature Conservancy.”

This award marks the first Walmart Acres for America project in Kentucky and is one of six projects announced as receiving this important conservation funding.

“The Cumberland Forest land acquisition project will create the largest state wildlife management area in Kentucky, providing 54,000 acres for permanent public access for present and future generations to enjoy and conserving in perpetuity important habitats for wildlife,” said Rich Storm, Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “We are thrilled to learn of the ‘Acres for America’ grant to help make this exciting project a reality. We are thankful to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and all of our partners, including the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, the Kentucky General Assembly and the federal Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, all of which are providing vital funding and in-kind assistance.”

(Photo credit: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)