The state Fish and Wildlife Commission on Friday approved the purchase of more than 5,000 acres of Kittitas County forest to protect habitat used by elk.

The state Fish and Wildlife Commission on Friday approved the purchase of more than 5,000 acres of Kittitas County forest to protect habitat used by elk.

The Yakima Herald-Republic reports (http://bit.ly/1bqhkSO) that the move is part of a long-term effort by the state and several conservation groups, called the Heart of the Cascades project, to identify the most important pieces of property to purchase and protect as timber companies look to sell off East Cascade land holdings.

Nature Conservancy’s James Schroeer says the new acquisition will be 5,497 acres along Manastash Creek, south of Cle Elum, a key migration route for the Yakima elk population.

The state will spend $4.6 million to purchase the property.

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Information from: Yakima Herald-Republic, http://www.yakimaherald.com