Agency helps acquire key Pennsylvania elk country

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation recently teamed up with the state Game Commission to purchase and conserve 81 acres of prime elk habitat in Elk County’s Benezette Township, which is among areas with the highest elk population density in the state.

“This new land acquisition complements the work we funded in Pennsylvania through our habitat enhancement projects and our state grant program,” said Blake Henning, RMEF vice president of lands and conservation. “The RMEF is proud to further our commitment to Pennsylvania’s elk program. This once private property may now be enjoyed by the public forever.”

RMEF committed $100,000 to secure the purchase and it marks RMEF’s 10th land acquisition in Pennsylvania.

“The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has been a monumental partner over the years for the Pennsylvania Game Commission in regards to elk management,” said Barry Zaffuto, PGC Northcentral Regional Director. “Those that have ever seen an elk in Pennsylvania owe that experience to the men and women of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.”

Known as Woodring Farm, the property now becomes part of State Game Lands 311. Future plans include parking areas and walking trails to an overlook that will offer the public an opportunity to view Pennsylvania’s wild elk herd.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission and RMEF are making plans for an on-site dedication ceremony later this fall.

Funding for the acquisition came from the Torstenson Family Endowment, which is only used to further RMEF’s core mission programs of permanent land protection, habitat stewardship, elk restoration and hunting heritage.

Since 1991, RMEF and its partners completed 311 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Pennsylvania with a combined value of more than $22.6 million that opened or secured public access to 8,546 acres.