Increasing Knowledge About Elk in Pittsburgh:
Keystone Elk Country Alliance
Established in 2009, the Keystone Elk Country Alliance (KECA) is a wildlife conservation organization focused on Pennsylvania’s elk herd and the Elk Country Visitor Center, which attracted 81,000 visitors in 2017 and more than 2.4 million since opening the Elk Center in remote Benezette, Pennsylvania, in the northern tier of the state. The Elk Center was built, in part, to drive economic development in the region and to see and hear bugling elk. As a result, the region has new restaurants, stores, galleries, hotels, campgrounds, and cabins; regional tourism spending is almost $2 billion annually; and employs nearly 13,000. The KECA staff of environmental educators offers a conservation curriculum, which meets the state standards established by the Department of Education, to local schools and others that participate through distance learning, reaching thousands of students each year, in addition to the hundreds of thousands of visitors to the center.
Based on a successful initiative in Philadelphia, a Foundation grant of $200,000 will provide two-year support of operations in greater Pittsburgh that will enable KECA to hire a regional coordinator; build partnerships with local conservation groups, including the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania; and expand its education, outreach, local profile, and fundraising efforts, growing by 50 percent within three years.