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RMEF Conserves, Opens Access to West-Central Montana Elk Habitat

MISSOULA, Mont. — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation partnered with a conservation-minded family and the U.S. Forest Service to permanently protect 317 acres of prime elk habitat in Montana’s Elkhorn Mountains.

“We are grateful to the Williams family for their desire and commitment to protect and conserve this inholding within the Elkhorn Mountain Range,” said Blake Henning, RMEF vice president of Lands and Conservation. “This is crucial elk winter range that is also home to mule and whitetail deer, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, bear and a wide variety of other wildlife and bird species.”

The property is about 14 miles west of Townsend in the Missouri River-Canyon Ferry Lake Valley. It is also located in the southwestern section of the Elkhorn Wildlife Management Unit which is well-known to sportsmen and women as a prime area for trophy bull elk.

RMEF supervised the purchase of the land and will convey it to the Helena National Forest for public use.

“The Jenkins Gulch property, as it is called, has never been open to the public but now it will be accessible year-round for hunting, hiking, camping and other recreational outings. More importantly, since it is now permanently protected, there is no longer a potential threat of development which could have led to a loss of habitat,” added Henning.

Aside from the Williams family, conservation partners and supporters include the Land and Water Conservation Fund through the Helena National Forest as well as the Montana Fish and Wildlife Conservation Trust (MFWCT), Mule Deer Foundation, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Broadwater and Jefferson County Commissioners, and Elkhorn Restoration and Working Groups.

“The Montana Fish Wildlife and Conservation Trust is very pleased to be a part of the Jenkins Gulch critical inholding acquisition. This parcel was our flagship project for 2015 and helps to ensure that the Forest Service can manage habitat, wildlife, access and recreation for the benefit of the public,” said Bill Orsello, MFWCT chairman.

Since 1985, RMEF and its partners have completed 862 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Montana with a combined value of more than $149 million. These projects have protected or enhanced 781,157 acres of habitat, of which 228,519 acres have been opened or secured for public access.

Courtesy of RMEF