RMEF Works to Protect 10,000 Acres in Oregon

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A rancher in eastern Oregon has placed over 10,000 acres of wildlife habitat under permanent protection via conservation easement with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF).

The easement ensures the future of vital winter range for a regional herd of 600-800 elk.

John and Patricia Habberstad of China Peak Ranch, near Monument, Ore., have placed 10,334 acres under easement with RMEF in three stages dating back to 2002. The most recent action, completed in January, added 5,101 acres to the total.

Bill Richardson, RMEF lands program manager for Oregon and Washington, said, "The Habberstads are doing a wonderful job of managing their land for the benefit of wildlife. They have worked to rejuvenate decadent fields, control invasive weeds and juniper, establish water sources and develop springs. The native bunchgrasses on the ranch are flourishing and the habitat quality is on an upward trajectory."

"We appreciate the Habberstad family for the conservation ethic and generosity that led to this donated conservation easement and a guarantee of outstanding wildlife habitat-forever." added Richardson.

The China Peak Ranch is a private working ranch, with cattle and timber operations, south of the North Fork John Day River and north of an area known as Rudio Mountain.

Elk can be found on the property year round, but hundreds more depend on China Peak Ranch for winter range. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife says most of the elk that winter here inhabit public lands in the area during hunting seasons.

The ranch also is home to mule deer, pronghorn, black bears, mountain lions, eagles, hawks, neo-tropical migratory birds and a host of other species. Cottonwood Creek, an important tributary to the North Fork John Day River, provides coldwater inputs and spawning and rearing habitat for spring Chinook and summer steelhead, as well as bull trout.

A conservation easement ensures the property will remain much like it is today. The legal agreement to protect and manage wildlife habitat alongside working-ranch operations will stay with the land-even beyond the lifetimes of the Habberstads and all future owners.

RMEF holds several other conservation easements, and has completed a number of habitat enhancement projects, in the China Peak Ranch area.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Snowy peaks, dark timber basins and grassy meadows. RMEF is leading an elk country initiative that has conserved or enhanced habitat on over 5.9 million acres-a land area equivalent to a swath three miles wide and stretching along the entire Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico. RMEF also works to open, secure and improve public access for hunting, fishing and other recreation. Get involved at www.rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.


hunter25's picture

I love it when I read stories

I love it when I read stories like this of the land being protected forever. I don't know the details of deals like this or the how and why they did it but thanks to the Rocky Mountain ELk foundation another elk herd will be protected from developement forever.Hopefully the public will have the opportunity to enjoy it.

The ranch I used to hunt on is now sprouting with huge expensive houses and I'm afraid the BLM that borders all these areas will someday get shut off because of safety concerns. The rancher that worked these lands was a good friend and I watched him cry as he was forced to sell because of brothers and sisters who wanted the quick cash now and forced him out. More and more ranches are vanishing here for the same reason.

It is amazing how much the RMEF has been able to acomplish all over the country and I hope their success storeis continue.

numbnutz's picture

This is sweet, I know this

This is sweet, I know this area pretty well, I have not hunted inthat part. I really like RMEF and all they do for habitat. Like you said CA_ thats why i donate to them every year. I'll have to look and see if there is public acess to there land, Theres a Ranch over where I hunt that i wish would allow public acess, well he does for a fee, a pretty steep fee for the type of deer/elk that are there. not monsters by any means but desent. He owns somewhere in the ball park of 12,000 acres and its prime land if he would do more in the way of water sourse and habitat. Great hunting though on the public land that borders his land. Hopefully more and more ranchers will donate there land to causes like this instead of selling out to developers.

Ca_Vermonster's picture

Very cool.  That's why I

Very cool.  That's why I donate every year to the REMF.

The only thing i wonder is if this will be a public access place or not.  The last line of the article mentions how the RMEF works to improve public access to hutning and fishing.

However, it does not seem to mention anything specifically about this land acquisition.

jaybe's picture

I have never been there and

I have never been there and probably never will, but I certainly applaud the Habberstad's for this action. The RMEF is widely-known for its excellent work in preserving and restoring habitat for elk and all other animals that live in these areas. They are a large enough organization and have enough political influence (a necessary factor in today's world) to stand against those who would make the land they manage into "petting parks".

I hope that this will encourage other owners of large plots of land to do something similar. United we stand, divided we will certainly be run over by big government.