A private landowner, John Graytak, has donated 3,450 acres of land near Bearmouth to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Spokesman Mark Holyoak provided details of the gift.

“This is a tremendous post-Christmas gift,” said Holyoak. “A local landowner straight-up donated some land to RMEF, which does happen from time to time. This is a fairly sizable chunk at nearly 3,500 acres up in the Bearmouth area east of town. If you know the area very well it’s very steep and the sun shines on it during the day which melts the snow off and makes it a great place for elk, mule deer and whitetail to hang out during the winter, because as we all know, it’s tough for them to find feed in the winter. This is a tremendous gift and we’re extremely honored to receive it.”

Holyoak said the RMEF will be a caretaker of the land until it can be conveyed to a new owner that will keep the land public.

“We own land when we receive it or when we’re involved in a transaction and then we try and convey it to a public entity like the Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management,” he said. “In the interim, as we look to see who we can convey this land to, then it will be open for public access and managed how surrounding lands are managed to benefit wildlife habitat. There are some streams that flow through there. These are perennial streams that are also important for wildlife. For now and for the upcoming hunting season the land will be open for public access.”