Game and Fish Commission selects Cody Office construction company

Funding for priority mule deer projects allocated

1/29/2021 8:36:02 PM

Cheyenne - The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission met this week in Cheyenne for their January meeting. Director Brian Nesvik and Commission President Pete Dube recognized two outgoing commissioners, David Rael of Cowley and Pat Crank of Cheyenne, and thanked them for their service and dedication over the last six years. These two vacancies will be filled by Wyoming Gov. Gordon in the coming weeks. Commissioners serve a term of six years each in the voluntary roles that commence on March 1. The Commission also welcomed Ken Roberts of Kemmerer, who participated in his first meeting, filling former Commissioner Mike Schmid’s vacant seat. 

The Commission moved forward on the next steps to build a new Cody Regional office. BH Construction, Inc., of Rock Springs, was awarded the contract with the lowest bid at $8,831,913. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department remains on-track for breaking ground in May.

“This new office building in Cody is important for sportspeople living in the Bighorn Basin in order to receive the best representation, customer service and information they deserve from Game and Fish, as well as the best support for the Cody region department employees who work to deliver those services,” said Commissioner Rael, who represents Park, Big Horn, Hot Springs and Washakie Counties. “The Commission has planned for over a decade to build this office, and managed our operating fund so we could responsibly allocate sportsperson dollars within our means for this building. It will bring value to all in the Bighorn Basin as a community resource.”

The Commission approved updates to the department’s guidelines for wind and solar projects. The updated guidelines will provide a consistent process for Game and Fish communications and recommendations on renewable energy projects when asked to provide comments in efforts to reduce impacts to fish and wildlife. 

“When it comes to solar and wind, we feel that it is about location. If sited in the right place we can drastically minimize the impacts for fish and wildlife up front,” said Angi Bruce, Game and Fish deputy director of external operations, during the presentation.

The updated guidelines will also serve as a resource for project proponents to inform proposals and clarify the standards Game and Fish use in voluntary evaluations. 

The Commission approved $500,000 for fourteen Mule Deer Initiative projects to enhance habitat for mule deer and support the ugulate’s migrations. Commission dollars will be matched $6 to every one by other sources amounting to a total of $3.56 million on the ground. The projects are anticipated to benefit 2.17 million acres and 35% of the state’s mule deer population. 

Commissioners also authorized funds for two Platte Valley Habitat Partnership projects for $113,000 to directly enhance 21,975 acres of important mule deer habitats for the Platte Valley herd unit. Commission dollars will be matched about $4 to one, resulting in total project funding of $672,557 for mule deer habitat improvement.
Commissioners allocated $9,743,000 from their discretionary account to begin work on employee housing for Jackson region employees. The next steps will be to drill two test wells on the South Park property. 

“I want to commend the Teton County Commission who have put forth a significant effort to help Game and Fish stay in Teton County,” Commissioner Crank said.

The Department will move forward with a new online system to register black bear bait sites this spring, following Commission approval of Chapter 3 - Black Bear Hunting Seasons. Game and Fish intends to build on last year’s emergency system, propped up quickly during COVID-19 to make it easier and  more accessible to customers. 

The Game and Fish website is on-track for a major update. The Commission heard about the progress of an internal team who is working on the redesign. A survey collecting the public’s thoughts on the current website and suggestions for improvements is open until Jan. 31.

The meeting recording will be available in the coming days online. The next commission meeting is planned for March 16-17 in Cody.

(Sara DiRienzo (307-777-4540))

- WGFD -

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