The Conservation Fund announced its purchase of 32,396 acres of working forestland in southern West Virginia that will eventually create the state’s largest, conserved block of prime habitat for elk restoration.
In partnership with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR), the Fund’s historic conservation purchase will establish a vast protected landscape of sustainably managed land, supporting working forests and forestry-based jobs and increasing tourism opportunities for public hunting and other forms of wildlife-associated recreation.
The Conservation Fund purchased the property through its Working Forest Fund®, with support from the Richard King Mellon Foundation. Under The Conservation Fund’s ownership, the property will be sustainably managed as working forestland.
Over the next few years, the Fund will convey the land to the DNR in phases, starting in the spring of 2016. These lands will provide public, wildlife-associated recreation, and they will be managed for a variety of conservation benefits, including elk restoration.
The purchase conserves more than 10,000 acres of currently leased lands at Laurel Lake Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and Big Ugly WMA, ensuring permanent public access and enhancing connectivity with other important conservation lands in the region.
West Virginia joins a multi-state landscape level effort to restore elk to the Appalachian region.
source: West Virginia Division of Natural Resources