Ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Conservation at Work in Washington State

The 640-acre Pine Canyon property is a recent addition to a long list of critical elk country the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has helped conserve in Washington.

Another hunting season had gone by, and again I was not able to enjoy the pursuit of the great wapiti and all the sights and sounds that define elk country. Initially, I was a bit depressed, then angry, then frustrated.

Then I thought of my life in the forests of Washington. I am a hunter and conservationist, born and raised in this state, and have walked many of the lands that have been touched by the RMEF. I have volunteered with the organization for more than 20 years, and have made many friends across this great nation because of it. I am blessed.

Pine Canyon, Washington.
Over the years, our friends in the timber industry have given the citizens and guardians of our state opportunities of a lifetime. Through a series of acquisitions and land exchanges, epic land protection efforts have set aside almost 117,000 acres of wildlife habitat. Through the efforts of RMEF volunteers and staff, and many partners, some of the most valuable habitat in Washington State can now be managed by landscape and not by parcel—meaning safer migration routes for elk, better winter ranges for deer, cleaner water for fish—the list goes on. I don't believe I will see the opportunities for land protection like that again on the East Slope of the Cascades. Land, forest and wildlife managers have suggested this was the best opportunity for public lands to continue as productive wildlife habitat in the long term. As an RMEF volunteer, I can't agree more.

Not only have we protected these lands for wildlife, but for us as well. We can be sure that each of us, our children and, most importantly, those yet unborn, will have the opportunity to hear, see and feel the wild forest awaken. People need places where they can go to hear a chattering squirrel and the footfalls and wing beats of creatures big and small. In this hectic world of ever-changing technology, people need wild places to spend time contemplating whatever they want to contemplate. They need places to hunt, fish, hike and ride horses. Protected wild places create opportunities for all of our citizens.

RMEF is filled with visionaries. I’m so proud to be among the many staff, volunteers and members who give of their time, talent and treasure to help provide my descendants the same opportunities that I have had.

Did I miss hunting season last year? A little bit. But then, thanks to the RMEF, there will always be this year!

Frank McMahon
RMEF Mt. Rainier Chapter

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