Foundation helps convert private land to public in the Black Hills

Black Hills national forest gets expansion in western South Dakota.
Black Hills national forest gets expansion in western South Dakota.(Juliana Alford)
Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 9:28 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has acquired private land near Hill City and is opening it up for public use.

The land is located within the boundaries of the Black Hills National Forest and had been owned by two landowners. Now the 239 acres can be used by the public for hunting and other recreational activities.

In a statement, Kyle Weaver, RMEF president, and CEO, stated it was important to acquire this land because national forests are at risk for development which would push wildlife out of the area.

“When we conserve landscapes and protect the values that are there, protect the habitats that are there, I mean that’s good for elk, mule deer, and whitetail deer, turkey, and everything else that lives that’s wild,” said Mark Holyoak, Director of communication, RMEF.

Overall, RMEF has protected more than 8.6 million acres of wildlife habitat and has opened 1.5 million acres of land for public use. The foundation has helped conserve land all over the United States as well as in other parts of the world.

“We do work where elk are and there’s more than 6,000 elk in the Black Hills. And so this is a great opportunity just to conserve and protect that habitat for them that helps so many other wildlife at the same time,” said Holyoak.

Although the foundation does mainly look out for elk they also look at the impacts on other wildlife.

“It’s kind of a way to look at the landscape in a larger fashion, so it all fits together rather than it be broken up with a private chunk here and a private chunk there,” said Holyoak.

The Land and Water Conservation fund was able to help fund the project. that fund helps by conserving lands, improving public access, and helping with recreation efforts.