Almost 1,000 acres of elk habitat near Mount St. Helens have been protected from development, secured for public access and will be managed for wildlife.
The utility company PacifiCorp bought the land from Longview Timber to help fulfill terms of the Lewis River hydroelectric relicensing settlement agreement. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation identified the lands as an important acquisition and negotiated the purchase.
The deal was closed Dec. 23, but the announcement was made last week.
The land is in two tracts southwest of Mount St. Helens. The first tract, north of PacifiCorp’s Swift Reservoir and west of Marble Mountain, adjoins Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The second lies along the Lewis River between Yale Reservoir and Lake Merwin in an area of extensive state lands and other PacifiCorp holdings.
Both tracts also are in areas of high-end residential and recreational development, said a news release. The recent purchase ensures that these areas remain open space for the future.
Both areas are used year-round by a significant number of Roosevelt’s elk and are crucial habitat in the region. Black bears and cougars, along with species of concern such as bald eagles also inhabit the area.
PacifiCorp will manage both tracts, with input from the foundation, to emphasize habitat and increased forage for elk and black-tailed deer.
“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 major accomplishment,” Bill Richardson, the foundation’s lands program manager for Oregon and Washington, said in the news release.