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

Friday, April 3, 2015

A Toast to Protecting Washington’s Elk Country

It was a modest gathering of just a little more than a dozen people but they came together to recognize and celebrate a major accomplishment. At one point, representatives of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), and the Cowiche Canyon Conservancy (CCC) paused in unison to raise a glass, filled with either champagne or sparkling apple cider, to salute a joint effort to permanently protect and secure access to nearly 2,900 acres of elk habitat in south-central Washington. 

North Fork Cowiche Creek project
(located in green)
The North Fork Cowiche Creek project is located about 15 miles northwest of Yakima on the east slopes of the Cascade Mountains. Nearly 3,000 elk migrate eastward through the area from publicly-owned summer range toward Cowiche Mountain. The elk must also cross several miles of privately-owned grounds undergoing significant development pressure so the project thwarts a possibly similar fate to this crucial migration corridor. In addition to elk, the project also benefits mule deer, bighorn sheep and a wide array of other species connected to the shrub-steppe and riparian habitats. 

The tour included three stops that allowed participants the opportunity to walk in the mountains, soak in the scenic landscapes and view nearby past projects while also celebrating the North Fork Cowiche Creek project. They found themselves surrounded by abundant bunchgrass, Ponderosa pine, Oregon white oak, aspen and beautiful blue skies.

Among those on hand included Washington State Chairs Rick Barlin and Greg Ganick, contractor Rance Block and Lands Program Manager Bill Richardson of the RMEF; CCC Director Betsy Bloomfield and several board members; and South Central Regional Director Mike Livingston, Oak Creek Wildlife Area Manager Ross Huffman and contractor Jeff Tayer of the WDFW.

Go here to learn more about the North Fork Cowiche Creek project and here to view a national map of RMEF’s conservation efforts.

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