MISSOULA, Mont.—The largest private inholding in Oregon’s most popular and biggest wilderness area is now in public hands and open to public access thanks to a collaborative effort between the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the U.S. Forest Service.
The project permanently protects 471 acres adjacent to the Eagle Cap Wilderness in northeast Oregon and improves access to nearly 23,000 additional acres of surrounding public land.
“This area contains vital habitat for elk and a myriad of other wildlife and fish species,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer.
Located southwest of the town of Joseph and directly west of Wallowa Lake, the narrow property runs approximately two miles in length. It serves as an important elk transition area as it lies between elk summer range in the high country and winter range in the lowlands. Mule deer, white-tailed deer, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats are also present within the surrounding area.
Additionally, Little Granite Creek and Falls Creek, two major tributaries to Hurricane Creek, cross the property. Spring Chinook salmon use the waterways for spawning. The creeks also provide crucial riparian habitat for other wildlife.
“In addition to improving public access for hunters, this project also ensures unimpeded access to Hurricane Creek and Falls Creek Trails, two of the most popular trails that provide access to the Eagle Cap Wilderness, including access to Legore Lake, said to be the highest true lake in Oregon at 8,950 feet in elevation,” added Henning.
RMEF conveyed the 471 acres to the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest which now oversees its management.
Vital funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund helped complete the project.
About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Founded over 30 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of more than 220,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 7.1 million acres for elk and other wildlife. RMEF also works to open and improve public access, fund and advocate for science-based resource management, and ensure the future of America’s hunting heritage. Discover why “Hunting Is Conservation™” at www.rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK. Take action: join and/or donate.