A land conservation and access project that ranks among the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s 2023 organizational priorities received a grant from the Forest Legacy Program. Phase two of the Minam River Acquisition project aims to conserve and convey 10,964 acres of prime wildlife and riparian habitat to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW).
“This commitment of Forest Legacy funding is a vital step toward completion of a landmark conservation project that will conserve and protect habitat for elk, mule deer, fish, birds and other wildlife, while also providing access by hunters, anglers and others,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “We would like to recognize our partners at Manulife, ODFW and the U.S. Forest Service as well as support from elected officials, both locally and in Congress, for making this conservation victory possible.”
Combined with phase one of the project that closed in late 2021, the completed project will conserve and open public access to 15,573 acres and be managed by ODFW as the Minam River Wildlife Area (WA), the fifth largest wildlife area in the state. Creation of the WA allows for better management of both the public land and its resources.
When completed, the Minam River Wildlife Area combined with the 361,000-acre Eagle Cap Wilderness will create a block of public land larger than Yellowstone National Park. The project also improves access to 6,000 acres of U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands.
The Forest Legacy Program is a conservation program administered by the U.S. Forest Service in partnership with state wildlife agencies to encourage the protection of privately owned forest lands through conservation easements or land purchases. Protection of private forests via the program maintains public benefits such as opportunties to hunt, fish and camp; clean and abundant drinking water; habitat for fish and wildlife, and timber, fuel wood and other forest products.
The Minam River Acquisition project is expected to close later in 2023.
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(Photo source: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)