Parcel near GJ protected for big game

More than 500 acres of land a couple dozen miles east of Grand Junction has been permanently protected as elk habitat. Photo special to the Sentinel / Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

An agreement will permanently protect 524 acres of prime wildlife habitat on the flanks of Grand Mesa about 35 miles east of Grand Junction.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation said in a news release that it partnered with conservation-minded landowners, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Great Outdoors Colorado to protect the land.

What’s called the Bull Creek project provides summer, winter and transitional range and a migration corridor through adjacent Bureau of Land Management land for elk and mule deer. The area also is an important calving ground for elk, provides quality habitat for other animals including birds, and includes vital riparian habitat, with more than three miles of waterways including the South Canal and a portion of Bull Creek.

Almost half of the project’s funding came from a grant from Great Outdoors Colorado, which receives funding from Colorado Lottery proceeds. Mark Holyoak, spokesperson for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, said the project involves buying a conservation easement that prohibits subdivision and limits development on the landscape. He declined to comment on the project cost.

Participants in the project are praising the involvement of the family that owns the property involved. The family has chosen to remain anonymous.

“We appreciate the private landowners for recognizing the important wildlife values of their land and taking action to permanently protect it,” Blake Henning, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s chief conservation officer, said in the news release.

Said J.T. Romatzke, CPW area wildlife manager, “The ability to ensure the perpetuation of elk habitat and benefits to sportsmen is nothing more than exceptional. It is an honor for CPW to collaborate with RMEF and many others on projects that truly have longevity and resource purpose.”

Said GOCO executive director Chris Castilian, “It’s critical for Colorado’s future that we have families like this one with the vision to permanently protect their land. GOCO is proud to have invested critical funding to help bring that vision to fruition and protect critical wildlife and river habitat.”

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has conserved more than 7.1 million acres for elk and other wildlife since its founding more than 30 years ago. It and its partners have completed more than 700 conservation and other projects in Colorado, including two in Mesa County.

Those projects have a combined value of more than $161 million, have conserved or enhanced 438,443 acres, and have opened or secured access to 108,179 acres, the organization says.


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