May 25, 2013
Key Elk Habitat Conserved, Open to Public Access in California
MISSOULA, Mont.—A stretch of crucial habitat for Tule elk in California is now protected and in public ownership thanks to a collaborative effort by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners.
“This is a big win for elk, elk country, and the people in west-central California,” said Blake Henning, RMEF vice president of Lands and Conservation. “This property belonged to a family for more than 100 years. It faced a very real possibility of development but thanks to the work of our dedicated partners it’s now protected and in the hands of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.”
“The Wildlife Conservation Board is appreciative of the RMEF’s partnership in securing the San Antonio Valley property,” said John Donnelly, executive director of the California Wildlife Conservation Board. “Situated in the Mt. Hamilton Range of California, the property is extremely valuable in terms of plant and animal diversity and offers stability in protecting a critical wildlife corridor for elk, mountain lions and other animals. We are proud to have been a partner, along with the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the RMEF in securing this important property for future generations.”
The transaction adds 339 acres to a previously acquired 2,750 acre tract of land in the San Antonio Valley located east of San Jose that butts up to Henry Coe State Park. The property was historically home to cattle ranches. It sits approximately 2,000-2,300 feet in elevation and consists primarily of grassland, wildflowers, and some forbs with scattered oaks, grey pines and dense brush. There is also plentiful riparian habitat with a pond and a seasonal creek on the property, and three ponds on the previously acquired land that provide a year-round water supply for wildlife.
“Tule elk are not the only species that thrives here. The property also caters to black tail deer, quail, turkey, mountain lion, and a variety of migratory birds and raptors,” added Henning. “It’s also a popular destination for people from the Bay Area and valley to watch wildlife and enjoy spring wildflowers.”
Partners in the project include a private landowner, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California Wildlife Conservation Board, California Deer Association, Santa Clara County Open Space, and The Nature Conservancy.
Work continues on a possible third phase of the project to try to protect and open more land in the same area.