Soon the Wyoming Game and Fish Department will break ground on an essential project for the Big Horn Basin. 

We are building a new regional office in Cody, finally replacing an old, failing facility with a new building of our own that will better serve the public and meet the expectations you have for Game and Fish services. 

If you’ve visited the current office in Cody off Highway 120, you know it’s difficult to make the turn safely, particularly if you are pulling a horse or utility trailer, as many of our customers do. Traffic moves at a top speed of 60 mph, and the existing landscaping and topography limit visibility at the entrance. Once at the office, there’s little space to park and turn around. Inside, there is limited room to buy licenses and have conversations with employees. There are no public meeting spaces, and the building doesn’t accommodate customers with disabilities. The building was designed for nine employees; now we have upwards of 26 full- and part-time employees spread out in the existing building and modulars, and there is limited space to do important and safe wildlife work with large carnivores. 

Not to mention, the 42-year old building itself is failing. The roof leaks, the plumbing is poor, and there are significant drainage problems on the exterior of the office and shop. The costs for repairs are high and are expected to increase. The office sits on leased ground where Park County has graciously allowed us as tenants for almost no cost, but the opportunities for expansion are limited.

A new building is always a major investment and a big project, and the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission takes that very seriously. This need was identified over a decade ago, and the Commission began saving. It’s important to have adequate facilities for us to serve you and take care of the wildlife resource the way you’ve entrusted us to do. The Commission is always judicious with our budget. Now, we are finally able to make this purchase – free and clear. The Commission bought land one mile north of Cody off the Belfry Highway for the new building.

The building’s overall cost, including land and construction, is $9.2 million, and it’s important for you to know that this is supported 100% by the Commission’s budget. No State of Wyoming funds are being used; the entire cost of the building comes from sportsperson funds that have been stowed away until we could afford this expenditure. It’s good news that funding for certain elements of construction is eligible for a reimbursement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Program. Eligibility for that match is determined by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The use of PR funds for this project will not take funding away for on-the-ground wildlife projects, and it is one of the most efficient ways to use this available funding.

Over the past two years, we have worked closely with community leaders and local citizens to gather input on this project. We have coordinated with the architect contracted for the facility design to ensure it is functional and aligned with public expectations for a government building. The building will have an attractive appearance, but was designed to be usable and cost efficient. It will be a facility that local citizens can be proud of and is welcoming to visitors from outside of the Big Horn Basin.

The new Cody office will be our home in the Big Horn Basin for the future, which is why we’ve taken great care to design a building that will be flexible enough to meet expanding wildlife needs. When the existing office was built, we didn’t have large carnivore biologists, AIS inspectors, hunting and fishing access personnel or information and education personnel working in the region. The department will own the new building and the land. We feel like this is very important, especially given the increasing costs of property in Park County and the ever-growing fish and wildlife needs. 

The new office will be in a better location that is safer to access with a turning lane, lower speed limits and better visibility. There will be adequate parking and front-counter space and a large, indoor area for checking harvested animals, collecting biological samples, pulling disease samples and plugging bighorn sheep. The office will have an aquatic invasive species decontamination system that will help keep zebra and quagga mussels out of waters like Buffalo Bill Reservoir. 

The facility will have a dedicated, contained area for required work on anesthetized large carnivore species, like grizzly bears, with the ability to hold large carnivores in traps overnight safely. With increased storage capabilities at the new facility, our equipment, such as boats and ATVs, can be stored indoors out of the elements resulting in reduced maintenance costs and equipment lasting longer. Moreover, the entire building will be ADA compliant and will have a meeting space that anyone can reserve. 

Game and Fish is glad to invest in this office because it gives us the ability to deliver top-notch services to you. That is important to us. We’re thankful for your support – hunters, anglers and trappers – over the last several decades who have made investments like the Cody Office possible. While the building will say the Wyoming Game and Fish Department on the front, it belongs to you. 

For updates on the construction of the office, visit https://wgfd.wyo.gov/Regional-Offices/Cody-Region/Cody-office.

 

(Brian Nesvik is the Director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department)

(5) comments

Jaron Curyea

Let’s start with the obvious Dewey, I already spoke to the fact that most trout are nonnative in my previous post. Reading comprehension doesn’t appear to be a skill you possess as you also called me by the wrong name. As far as other game fish species native to Wyoming, Mountain whitefish, channel catfish, sturgeon, sauger. The only reason any game exists in North America is because hunters and anglers have been voluntarily funding it through license sales and self imposed taxes through the Pittman Robertson and Dingell Johnson acts. People such as yourself have never spent a dime to further wildlife in this country. You get on your keyboard and complain about wildlife management without any skin, aka money, in the game. You’ve been riding the backs of hunters and anglers meanwhile complaining about what they do. Taking pictures with your old timey camera isn’t helping anymore than your self righteous rants on the Cody enterprise do.

Leslie Patten

Heard word that a holding area for beaver relocation will be included in the new building footprint. The design I understand would hold an entire beaver family for safe relocation. I hope that will come to pass. We need to restore beavers in our ecosystem.

Dewey Vanderhoff

You say "Wildlife " . I say Wyoming GAME and Fish has trouble distinguishing between wildlife ---native species in is natural ecosystem - and Game - a marketable commodity for sale. Examples: the anachronistic North American Wildlife Management concep is based entirely on hunting , not wildlife conservation. Example 2: Micromanaged hunting , stocking alien exotic nonnative upland game birds , and put and take fishing is not landscape scale natural management at work ... it's a busioness model . Do nonnative Mountain Goats , transplanted European Trout, and Mandarin pheasants count as wildlife ? What about exotic alien bovines of the herford and Anmgus and Rambouillet persuasion that are carrying off all the good mountain grass in the multichambered stomachs while we have to artifically feed Elk in winter ? Worst of all, Wyo G&F long ago forgot all about the crucial role of predation in landscape scale managment of wildlife, hence their political problems with Wolves and Grizzlies etc. of their own making.

I used to be a big fan of Wyo G&F and an ardent supporter , until I looked at the bigger wider picture. There is so much more to genuine wildlife conservation than selling hunting and fishing...

Jaron Curyea

As usual, Dewey’s comments are way off base and anchored in his “perfect world” ideas that could never happen in real life. Pheasants were introduced to Wyoming 1937 and nonnative trout in the late 1800’s, you are holding the current G&F accountable for game management decisions that happened in one case 80+ years ago and the other 120+ years. Game management has evolved over many decades of improving science and interaction with the ever-increasing population of humans on the landscape. To blame these practices on the current G&F would be akin to blaming early 1900’s doctors for severing limbs instead of providing the advanced surgery techniques we now have available. You cannot unring the bell a hundred years later. In regards to wolves and bears, the Department has requested the ability to manage them at a local level, with the data and experience to support the decision, instead of allowing bureaucrats from thousands of miles away to make decisions based on anthropomorphized ideals. Try doing some research before you spout off your uniformed, idealistic dribble.

Dewey Vanderhoff

I am not blaming any living person from Wyo G&F or anywhere else for actions taken a century or so ago . The decisions back then were made with little to nos cientific understanding, or a faux science, and we suffer them. So try not to deflect my thinking where it doesn't want to go . Tell me sage Jason ...what species of game fish beyond the two Cutthroats and the Arctic grayling are native to Wyoming ? The Brown trout , Rainbow , Brook . Golden , Lake ? None of the above . What species of upland game birds commonly hunted in Wyoming are not native to North America ? Most of them , actually. Wildlife conservation is not medical science so your cognitive dissonance is of no value. But not restoring Grizzly bears to ALL the available habitat in the Northern Rockies in lieu of cramming them into a single area is just plain lousy management. Grizzlies and wolves should NOT be subject to State management at this time ... not until Wyoming and USF&WS drops the facade of state control to do what the ESA law requires... restore the threatened species to available sutiable range in all the states. Instead of playing musical bears in NW Wyoming , it's time to start relocating " surplus " bears to Montana Idaho, Washington , and maybe even Utah and Colorado . Guess what happens when you do that ? The lawsuits magically go away , and you can start your limited quota trophy hunts. It really is that simple. Let me reiterate that the North American Wildlife ( Big Game) conservation modelw as flawed the day the blue chip hunting elite adopted it ... looking at you , Teddy Roosevelt. It never was about wildlife conservation , only about hunting harvestability. We need to unlearn much about modern wildlife management, which is bad. But what was done in the late 1800's and early 20th c entury was far worse. The new normal is a travesty when you consider Elk used tor ange from the Berkshiore Hills of western massachusetts all the way to the Pacific Coast, but we idiot humans almost wiped them out... down to the last 40,000. Same story with 60 MILLION ison , the seven subspecie of grizzlies reduced to one shoved intop the Absarokas, Grey wolves , Woodland Caribou to name a few more. I am tired of humans doing the wrong things for the wrong reasons regarding wildlife and somehow saying two wrongs make it right. It ... does ... not.

We need a new Game and Fish regional work center in Cody . But we habve a greater need for much wiser people in that building driven by ecologics, not economics, if they really are serious about their mission to conserve fish , fowl, and fauna. That , and a greater awareness from the p[ublic ( including the blood sports crowd, hook and bullets ) that the wildlife are not their primary provence to exploit. A new North American Model perhaps . Let's start in Wyoming. Cody . Now.

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