Wyoming has received $14 million in grants that will enable the state to construct nine underpasses to aid wildlife migration – an unexpected gift that will move projects along.

“A lot of us thought it was a longshot,” Game and Fish director Brian Nesvik told the G&F Commission Nov. 18-19 at a wide-ranging meeting in Powell.

“This is a really good thing for Wyoming,” he said. “This is really important work for our state.”

Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development grants through transportation discretionary funds were awarded to the Wyoming Department of Transportation.

As part of its work at the session conducted in the Yellowstone Building at Northwest College, the commission approved $560,000 for 10 projects to support mule deer across the state.

The projects involve habitat and migration through the Statewide Mule Deer Initiative.

Efforts on the agenda for next year would aim at benefiting nine mule deer herds and 1.2 million acres of land.

An issue of concern for the commission revolved around challenges in operations in Jackson. The community is so expensive for office space and employee housing, it was suggested the department pull out of that city and look for alternatives.

There was a feeling of preference to maintaining an office in the community of 10,000 people, but an ongoing worry about finances.

“It is a situation; this is going to come to a head,” said commissioner Richard Ladwig.

Mention was made of moving regional operations to Pinedale, 77 miles away, or Alpine, 37 miles distant.

“Every state agency is having this problem,” said commissioner Patrick Crank.

Commissioner Ralph Brokaw indicated he would be hesitant to give up on Jackson.

“I think it’s important we keep a presence in Jackson,” Brokaw said.

No decisions were made, but hope was expressed community officials might work with G&F to possibly alleviate costs.

Longtime Cody regional office biologist Jason Burckhardt was awarded a framed certificate of appreciation for his 20 years of service to the department by fisheries chief Alan Osterland, his former boss in Cody.

“Jason is a very talented fisheries biologist,” Osterland said. “He’s very passionate.”

Although two decades may seem like a long time, Burckhardt said, “It seems like it’s gone by quickly.”

Also, the commission will return to the area, this time in Cody, for one of its monthly meetings, March 19-20.

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