Regional Offices > Laramie Region > Laramie Region News > Wyoming Army National Guard assists Game and Fish with projects

Wyoming Army National Guard assists Game and Fish with projects

September 03, 2020
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The Wyoming Army National Guard and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department teamed up to improve more than 17 miles of dirt roads and bring the regional patrol cabin up to code at the Laramie Peak Wildlife Habitat Management Area near Wheatland.

More than 70 soldiers from the 133rd Engineer Company worked on the project for their annual two-week training exercise. As an Engineer Support Company, the 133rd can accomplish a wide array of earthmoving and vertical construction projects; the team actively seeks community projects to practice field skills they may need when called upon in the future.

Preparations for the project began in 2017 when the Game and Fish began the application process for the Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) project. IRT is a Department of Defense military training opportunity, exclusive to the United States and its territories, that delivers joint training opportunities to increase deployment readiness. Simultaneously, IRT provides key services with lasting benefits for American communities. The Laramie Peak project ultimately benefits wildlife and provides immediate enjoyment for citizens.

The lengthy approval process routed a substantial amount of paperwork through Washington, D.C. and resulted in a five-year cooperative agreement that was signed in February. Game and Fish Department Director Brian Nesvik, also a brigadier general and Commanding General for the Wyoming Army National Guard, toured the project site in mid-August. He thanked the soldiers and the Kennedy family who owns the land that provides the permanent easement for the Laramie Peak WHMA.

“This partnership between the Guard, Game and Fish and local landowners really reflects Wyoming values and the way we get good things done in our state,” Nesvik said “The Army National Guard’s efforts will benefit sportsmen and women who use these areas to hunt and surrounding landowners who make their living here.”

The soldiers expressed equal appreciation for the chance to employ their job skills. “We are grateful for this opportunity to work on these projects,” said Captain Eric Jacobs, 133rd Company Commander in charge of the project. “We don’t get a lot of hands-on work like this. The soldiers get to practice their MOS (military occupational specialty) while doing something good for the people of Wyoming. The soldiers are really happy to be working out here.” 

The soldiers tackled the work with military flair and fury. A Horizontal Crew worked on the roads, installing five 24-inch culverts, adding 502 cubic yards of gravel, grading roads, adding water bars, and raising the roadbeds to aid in runoff. A Vertical Crew worked on updating the regional patrol cabin to current building codes. “The wiring and plumbing from 1960s would not meet current building codes,” said Jerry Cowles, Habitat and Access supervisor for the Laramie Region Game and Fish office. The work involved replacing old pipes, adding new wiring throughout the cabin, and reframing some interior walls. They also installed interior and exterior lights, new circuit breakers, a breaker panel, and a new 220-volt line in the barn. Materials were provided by the Game and Fish while the equipment and personnel were managed by the National Guard.

The 1333rd Engineer Company will return to the worksite during their September drill to complete as many remaining items as possible, such as continued road improvements and adding an egress window to the basement of the cabin.

Cowles said these are projects that have been sidelined as a result of heavy workload and competing project demands. “Game and Fish staff would be doing these projects; none of this work would be contracted out,” he said. “The cooperation from the Wyoming Army National Guard has saved the department a tremendous amount of time and money. They completed 17 miles of road in no time. Our small statewide and Laramie Habitat and Access crews of eight staff and two dump trucks/backhoes combinations would have taken about six weeks to complete only a few miles,” he said. “The facility modification would have taken WGFD three years due higher public safety priorities across the region. Harnessing the ability to display combined work force efforts between the two agencies will provide lifelong training opportunities for soldiers, enhance wildlife habitat, and increase public trust throughout this great state.”

In 2021, the 133rd Engineer Company will work to improve nine miles of dirt road at the Wick /Beumee WHMA near Arlington. This project will include the installation and maintenance of cattle guards, culverts and water bars, spreading gravel, and making upgrades to the campground. Historic buildings will be restored for employee safety and to continue the architectural conservation for the property. Preserving these historic buildings holds the intrinsic value and displays the history of the buildings for how the Wick family used them.

For Nesvik, the project was the best of both worlds. “It is remarkably rewarding to see a project like this come together at a time when I have the honor and privilege to lead both the Army Guard and the Game and Fish Department,” he said.

- WGFD -

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