Nearly 4,500 acres of prime wildlife habitat in southwestern Washington are permanently protected and opened to public access thanks to ongoing collaborative efforts by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and PacifiCorp, an electric utility company.
The just-completed 1,880-acre acquisition is the third phase of a project that previously protected an additional 2,590 acres of habitat in the upper Lewis River basin north of Swift Reservoir
Why It’s Important
The combined 4,470-acre property was originally in a checkerboard ownership pattern. It is now blocked up and provides connectivity with state and federal lands to the north and is part of a 15,000-acre landscape managed as wildlife habitat by PacifiCorp. This management is conducted with input from RMEF, the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and resource agencies.
The landscape provides vital elk migratory corridors and is home to blacktail deer, black bear, mountain lions and a wide array of bird and other animal life.
This is a tremendous accomplishment. This forestland is crucial habitat for Roosevelt elk. It’s now forever protected and conserved in a region where designation of the Mount St. Helens National Monument restricts management options.Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer
“Conserving and managing this habitat on the southwest slopes of Mount St. Helens, where elk are threatened by forage loss from forest succession and habitat loss to development is a just part of PacifiCorp’s ongoing commitment to environmental stewardship,” said Todd Olson, the company’s compliance director. “We highly value the partnership with the RMEF and the other parties that makes this possible.”
“Federal forests near Mount St. Helens are overgrown and contributed to the decline of what was once one of Washington’s most productive elk herds. This project greatly improves forest management which is a huge benefit for elk and other wildlife,” added Henning.
With few exceptions to provide public safety, PacifiCorp wildlife lands are open to non-motorized public access including hunting and other recreation.