Black Hills National Forest adds 239 acres through deal with elk group and landowners
Cold Springs Creek in the Black Hills of South Dakota, where parcels of private land are being added to the Black Hills National Forest. (Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)
The Black Hills National Forest is growing by about one-third of a square mile.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation acquired 239 acres of land from two landowners for a total of $1.1 million and conveyed it to the national forest. The land is high in the remote western area of the forest in South Dakota, near the Wyoming border. The property is now publicly owned as part of the national forest, open for hunting and other recreational activities.
“This project not only protects habitat and connectivity for elk, mule and whitetail deer, turkey and other game species, but it ensures quality hunting opportunities today and for future generations,” Kyle Weaver, the Elk Foundation president and CEO, said in a statement.
The foundation said the property is in the heart of Black Hills elk country, home to more than 6,000 elk. The land includes aspen and pine trees, meadows and grasslands. The headwaters of Cold Springs Creek originate on the property.
“The Black Hills National Forest is very excited about this acquisition, which secures and protects these lands for future wildlife conservation efforts and public recreation opportunities,” Meagan Buehler, Black Hills National Forest lands program manager, said in a statement.
Regional public land hunters are also excited. Rob Mahaffey, a board member with South Dakota Bowhunters, said resident hunters have been dealing with overcrowded public lands.
“And anything to take that pressure off a little bit is welcome,” Mahaffey said.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund helped with the project. The fund is a federal program to help states provide outdoor recreation facilities. The program provides up to 50 percent reimbursement funds for land purchases and the development of outdoor recreation projects.
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