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It’s a winning conservation formula – effort plus patience equals success.
Nowhere is this truer than in southwestern portions of South Dakota.
From 2006 to 2011, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation worked with an RMEF life member to complete a five-phase project to conserve his 2,400-acre property.
Wildcat Canyon, as it’s called, stretches between Wind Cave National Park and the Black Hills National Forest.
It’s a twisting landscape featuring a mix of native grasslands spring-fed creeks, ponderosas, oaks and ash.
Pristine country indeed, it supplies some of the best habitat for elk, deer, turkey, and yes, mountain lions and bobcats, across the entire state.
At the time, because of its prime location, there was significant pressure in the immediate area to gobble up and develop the land.
Instead, RMEF worked closely with the landowner to create a multi-phase purchase agreement over several years to not only conserve the property for its wildlife values but also to convey it to the Black Hills National Forest where it would be open for public access.
And that’s exactly what happened.
To this day, almost half of Wind Cave’s elk spend their summer outside the park, exiting straight for the property and some are still there come fall, allowing hunting to keep the population in balance.