On July 10, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Malheur National Forest celebrated one of the largest land acquisitions in the history of the Pacific Northwest Region of the Forest Service.
This acquisition of 13,085 acres will consolidate protection of the headwaters of the John Day River, which drain from the Strawberry Mountains. The new land will fill in the gaps of what was a checkerboard arrangement around the headwaters, creating a protected area which now stretches more than 20,000 acres. Along with hunters and other recreationists, several species of wildlife and fish will benefit from this crucial linkage with existing public lands and established wildlife corridors. The river itself is home to endangered bull trout, as well as redband rainbow trout. It is also the destination for spawning mid-Columbia steelhead and chinook. Elk, deer, black bear, pronghorn, mountain goats, grouse and quail also make their home on the land surrounding the headwaters.