MISSOULA, Mont. — It is a ways off the beaten path, but a 1,300-acre slice of western Idaho elk country is now much more accessible and greatly improves public access to surrounding federal and state lands as well.
Originally donated to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, it is now known as the Joseph Plains Wildlife Habitat Area (JPWHA) and lies high above the Salmon River near the small town of White Bird, not far from the Oregon border.
“We appreciate our partners at the Idaho Fish and Game Department (IDFG) and Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation (IFWF) for working with us,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “As snow in high country melts, hunters and others will now find it much easier to access this scenic landscape that’s teaming with wildlife.”
IDFG, IFWF and RMEF provided funding for the recent access work including fencing, gravel and installation of improved signage and kiosks leading to the property’s main entry point.
“It’s kind of a hidden gem—both secluded and gorgeous,” said Brandi Felts, IDFG Clearwater regional habitat biologist. “You definitely need hiking boots and strong legs to take full advantage of it, but I challenge anyone to come here. It reaches into your soul and grabs a hold of you, and instantly becomes a part of you.”
Lying at the head of the Sotin, Howard and Gregory Creek drainages, which flow into the Salmon River, JPWHA features steep canyons, sharp ridges and forestland that provide prime habitat for elk, deer, black bears, mountain lions and other wildlife.
RMEF holds a conservation easement that forever protects the property’s wildlife values. IFWF oversees management of the area by IDFG for both habitat and access with the agency’s help but if it ever seeks to dispose of the property, ownership automatically reverts to RMEF to ensure it stays intact and open to the public. Since the parcel is not officially state land, it appears as private land on ownership maps.
About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Founded more than 36 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.