Jul. 9—ENTERPRISE — The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will hold an informational meeting on Tuesday, July 13, to discuss the potential acquisition of a 15,000-acre property along the Minam River.
The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. on Zoom, and the public is invited to attend to ask questions and learn more about the project.
According to Bill Richardson — senior lands program manager for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, which is helping ODFW purchase the property — this acquisition has been three years in the making.
"It's a primary migration corridor (and) there's a lot of connectivity for aquatic species along the river and streams. It's going to be a good addition to the current wildlife area," Richardson said.
The property is about 30 miles northeast of La Grande and is managed by Hancock Natural Resource Group. It is valued at $18.7 million.
The acquisition would expand the current 440-acre Minam River Wildlife Area in two phases over the next two years. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has agreed to fund at least $5.15 million for both phases.
The first phase would add 4,609 acres and would make the land available in December 2021. The second phase would buy the remaining 10,964 acres, which would be available in December 2023.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is working closely with ODFW and Hancock Natural Resource Group to buy this property with the aim of protecting big game during the winter and providing safe environments for fish and other smaller wildlife dependent on the river.
Along with conservation practices, the organizations hope to bring new recreational opportunities to the area. At the meeting, they will mention the possibility of a footbridge over the Minam River to provide easier access to the Minam River Trail, which bridges the Wallowa Mountains and Eagle Cap Wilderness.
"We're going to have non-motorized access available for use once we open it up," Richardson said. "It'll take some time. The whole process has to get approved, and then, even with those December dates, it won't be open until a few months later because of winter range closures."
For information on the Zoom meeting, contact Nick Myatt at ODFW at 541-962-1824.