Project in Jackson Co. protects elk habitat

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JACKSON COUNTY, Wis. (WMTV) A project in Jackson County is permanently protecting 290 acres of elk habitat in Wisconsin's southern elk range.

On Tuesday, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) announced the partnership with Jackson County Forestry and Parks will provide year-round protection.

“Every piece of elk country counts and this particular parcel is quality, year-round elk habitat. Not only are its wildlife values now forever protected but it is open to public access for hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “We appreciate our Jackson County Forest partners in helping make this happen.”

The Starlight Project in east-central Jackson County enlarges the county forest to nearly 123,000 acres. It helps elk relocated a few miles north of there in 2015-16 as part of a multi-year, joint effort between the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and RMEF.

In addition to supporting elk restoration efforts by protecting elk habitat, it creates stewardship opportunities for deer, black bears, turkey, grouse and other game and non-game wildlife species.

"This is the second successful project that was completed with the help of the RMEF. Their knowledge and expertise has been critical to complete the purchase of 650 acres," said Jim Zahasky, Jackson County Forestry and Parks administrator. "Timing is important to purchasing private land and RMEF can complete the purchases quickly compared to a government agency. We plan on continuing our partnership with RMEF and look forward to working with them in the future."

RMEF was created 35 years ago by hunters and has nearly 235,000 members. It has conserved more than 7.5 million acres.