In 2011, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation teamed up with a group of like-minded conservation partners to cap off a four-year effort that permanently protected and opened 10,386 acres to public access. Combined with the surrounding Forest Service land, the overall public ownership acreage jumped to more than 20,000.
Located in central Washington state on the eastern flank of the Cascade Mountains you’ll find a sprawling landscape ranging from 2,500 to 6,000 feet in elevation.
The land is now part of the 47,000-acre Oak Creek Wildlife Management Area which is open for hunters, anglers, hikers and others to enjoy.
Why It’s Important
It is home to myriad of wildlife species including elk, mule deer, big horn sheep, a wide variety of birds, plus a series of small streams used by amphibians, steelhead, bull trout and Chinook and Coho salmon.
These 10,000 acres of wildlife and riparian habitat were once under an alternating checkerboard ownership pattern of private timber and U-S Forest Service land making it a bane to both private and public land managers. The private portion was for sale on the open market with a looming threat of development hanging over it.
Today, what was dubbed the Rock Creek project now stands as a testament to the power of cooperation and collaboration.
The project is a boon for the landscape itself. Public ownership translates into the ability to provide active forest management which maintains a healthy forest and lowers the danger of catastrophic wildlife.
Transferring the land to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife ensured that critical elk range and calving grounds as well as low elevation winter range up to high-country summer range for other wildlife remain forever protected.
And it stands as a testimony of RMEF’s dedicated efforts to permanently protect, open and secure public access to the best of elk country.