Elk NetworkHabitat Conserved, Opened to Public Access in Pennsylvania’s Elk Range

News Releases | December 20, 2023

MISSOULA, Mont. — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation collaborated with the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) and private landowners to conserve what were 649 acres of private land in the heart of Pennsylvania’s elk range and place it in the public’s hands.

The Goetz Summit Acquisition project area is about five miles east of St. Marys and will be incorporated into State Game Lands (SGL) 14 for hunting, fishing and other recreational access.

“Every little piece of elk habitat matters,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “This transaction protects crucial winter, year-round and transitional range for elk, whitetail deer, black bears, wild turkeys and other wildlife. It also opens the door for active forest management to enhance forage and habitat for all of these species as well as improve overall forest health.”

The project also conserves a segment of Big Run, a designated Class-A trout stream that supports wild brook trout, and its associated riparian habitat.

Funding sources include Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund, PGC, RMEF and The Nature Conservancy.

RMEF has an extensive conservation history in Pennsylvania. Since 1994, it worked with partners to conserve or enhance 29,443 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 10,838 acres. That includes more than 30 land conservation and habitat stewardship projects within 20 miles of this latest project site.

RMEF is working with PGC to close phase II of the project, which would add an additional 1,739 acres to State Game Lands 14, in 2025. Doing so will create a contiguous link of more than 21,500 acres of PGC-managed public access acres previously separated by the Goetz Summit property.

“When RMEF conducted their first land acquisition project east of the Mississippi in 1991, that tract became what is now State Game Lands 311. Since that time, they have been an integral partner in expanding the protected and publicly accessible landscape that is so important for elk in Pennsylvania,” said David J. Gustafson, PGC Bureau of Wildlife Habitat Management director. “With this most recent project, they continue to demonstrate their commitment to elk and elk habitat protection in the core of our PA elk range. The Goetz Summit/Bingaman project will provide connectivity of permanently conserved lands across the larger landscape. Protecting this property from development will add to the biological, recreational and scenic values associated with State Game Land No. 14. By placing this land into public ownership, RMEF helped the game commission expand habitat management opportunities for elk and other wildlife as well as opportunities for both hunters and non-hunters to enjoy wildlife based outdoor recreational pursuits. We look forward to more projects with RMEF as a partner that provide benefits to elk and to people that enjoy wildlife and we thank them for assisting with this acquisition.”

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

Founded more than 39 years ago and fueled by hunters, RMEF maintains more than 225,000 members and has conserved more than 8.8 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.