You have to hand it to the folks at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. They’re always on the lookout for land that matters.

RMEF recently found some more ground worth buying, this time in partnership with the Cowiche Canyon Conservancy and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The partnership helped to protect nearly 3,000 acres of elk habitat in south-central Washington in a $1.55 million purchase deal. The land will become part of Washintong’s Oak Creek Wildlife Area, providing area hunters with opportunities at not only elk but mule deer and big horn sheep as well.

Anglers will also benefit. The land includes the headwaters of the North Fork of Cowiche Creek and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife intends to plant steelhead there.

“This is an important step toward conserving crucial habitat in a key elk migration corridor between higher elevation summer range and winter range on Cowiche Mountain,” said Blake Henning, RMEF vice president of Lands and Conservation in a media release. “This also thwarts significant development pressure taking place on nearby lands from occurring on this key corridor.”

This project is also interesting because the land has been in use as a grazing area for beef cattle – a practice that will continue showcasing that wildlife habitat and agricultural interests can work together with proper planning.

“It’s not often you get to protect nearly 3,000 acres of habitat and also protect a sustainable historic grazing operation that produces locally sourced grass fed beef,” said Betsy Bloomfield, CCC executive director. “The combination of habitat and recreation protection with a cultural legacy makes this a wonderful project, secured by the collaboration among great partners. We need to recognize and thank the Tieton Cattle Association which kept the native grasses and forbs in great condition while grazing their cattle on this same land during the summer.”