Elk NetworkRMEF Completes First Land Conservation & Access Project in Kentucky

Conservation , News Releases | October 4, 2022

MISSOULA, Mont. — Strengthening a relationship with a state that dates back nearly three decades, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation successfully collaborated with Kentucky River Properties to conserve and open access to a rugged slice of Kentucky elk country. 

RMEF acquired five parcels, all earlier private inholdings covering nine acres, in a rugged area known as Steel Trap and donated them to the Daniel Boone National Forest (DBNF). 

“This seemingly small transaction has big hunting and access ramifications,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “Much of Kentucky’s elk zone covers private land where access can be challenging. This project helps alleviate that and may serve as a springboard to future, larger land conservation and public access possibilities.” 

Steel Trap’s features include a closed canopy forest with flat to moderately steep terrain about 19 miles northeast of Pineville. It borders Phillips Fork, which feeds the Red Bird River. Two of the parcels are bisected by an unimproved road that secures permanent access to interior portions of the DBNF, heavily used by elk. 

The surrounding landscape supplies quality habitat for elk, deer, black bears and other wildlife. And the Steel Trap project opens the door for more habitat stewardship treatments in an area where RMEF completed invasive vegetation control and other habitat work over the last couple of years. 

“We greatly appreciate this donation to America’s public lands,” said H. Scott Ray, Daniel Boone National Forest supervisor. “By working across organizations and leveraging our individual strengths, we have secured permanent access for hunters, hikers, and many other recreationists to enjoy their public lands. We are very appreciative of RMEF and Kentucky River Properties for their partnership in providing this opportunity that will benefit current and future generations.” 

RMEF has a long, successful history of carrying out conservation work in Kentucky. In 1997, it provided more than $1.4 million and volunteer support to help restore elk to their native historic range. That initial release of seven elk since translated into a thriving herd of more than 11,000, the largest such elk population east of the Mississippi River.  

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation: 

Founded more than 38 years ago and fueled by hunters, RMEF maintains more than 225,000 members and has conserved more than 8.5 million acres for elk and other wildlife. RMEF also works to open and improve public access, fund and advocate for science-based resource management, and ensure the future of America’s hunting heritage. Discover why “Hunting Is Conservation™” at rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.