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Wyoming Conservation Corps Prepares for Summer Projects


May 23, 2008 — A rigorous summer with 24 projects lined up is in store for 32 University of Wyoming students participating in the Wyoming Conservation Corps (WCC) program.

WCC is a UW program serving the state of Wyoming through the completion of service-based conservation projects aimed at maintaining Wyoming's public lands. Formed in 2007 by the Wyoming State Legislature, the WCC seeks to introduce Wyoming's young adults to hands-on natural resource and environmental experiences. Last summer, 16 UW students completed a dozen 10-day conservation projects throughout Wyoming.

"This year, both the scope of the projects and the number of students will double," says Nick Agopian, WCC director.

Agopian says that the WCC has been aided the past two years through a generous donation from Devon Energy Corporation, which has donated two pickups.

Devon last year donated a 2003 Ford quad cab half-ton pickup truck to the WCC and this spring the program received a 2005 three-quarter ton extended cab pickup. The WCC students will use the trucks for a variety of purposes, including short service projects, conservation projects throughout the state and travel to training sessions, Agopian says.

Additionally, Devon contributed $11,000 for a project with the Rawlins Bureau of Land Management field office, May 27-June 4, to tear down and reconstruct 11 miles of fence at Powder Rim near Powder Mountain in Carbon County.

Matt Wilson of Rawlins, a junior in rangeland ecology and watershed management, will be the project's crew leader.

"There is a great need for the work the WCC is performing in Wyoming. Devon is so pleased to be able to continue to help this organization succeed," says Devon supervisor Thom Holmes. "We hope these donations will spur other organizations to support the WCC as well."

Agopian says support from the state and federal agencies, UW administration and environmental programs and private companies, such as Devon, has enabled the program to double in size the last year.

"It just shows the buy-in from all those involved that are supporting this program," he says. "They see the values and ideas that we are teaching our students."

Devon is an Oklahoma City-based independent energy company engaged in oil and gas exploration and production. The company is the largest U.S.-based independent oil and gas producer and is included in the S&P (Standard & Poor) 500 Index.

"By completing conservation projects with Wyoming's various public lands managers, we are looking to teach the students and provide them personal skills training and technical skills training," Agopian says. "We will also convey the importance of community service and civic engagement. When they leave this program and graduate from UW, these students will have the tools and skills necessary to be active community members and community leaders."

The other projects scheduled, and the sponsoring agency, are:

-- May 27-June 4: Game and Fish Department, Dubois area, maintenance and rehabilitation of Trail Lake Lodge; State Parks, Curt Gowdy State Park, trail construction/bridge construction; BLM, Lander field office, fence relocation project.
-- June 9-18: Game and Fish Department, Dubois area, maintenance and rehabilitation of Trail Lake Lodge/fencing, Whisky Basin Habitat Management Area; U.S. Forest Service, Wasatch National Forest/Evanston area, stand survey; State Parks, Curt Gowdy State Park, trail construction/bridge construction; U.S. Forest Service, Medicine Bow National Forest, bark beetle tree removal.
-- June 23-July 2: U.S. Forest Service, Wasatch National Forest/Evanston area, stand survey; State Parks, Curt Gowdy State Park, trail construction/bridge construction; State Engineer, southeast Wyoming, rehabilitating and painting gage houses; Office of State Lands, Beartooth Ranch, Clark, fencing.
-- July 7-16: State Parks, location and project not yet finalized; U.S. Forest Service, Wasatch National Forest/Evanston area, stand survey; BLM, Rawlins field office/Atlantic Rim area, fencing project; BLM, Lander field office/Green Mountain, thinning project.
-- July 21-30: U.S. Forest Service, Big Horn National Forest/Buffalo area, back country trail project; State Parks, location and project not yet finalized; BLM, Newcastle field office, energy resource management project, sage grouse/raptor survey; Office of State Lands, X-Bar Ranch (west of Laramie); Brown Ranch (Chugwater).
-- Aug. 4-13: U.S. Forest Service, Wasatch National Forest/Evanston area, stand survey; U.S. Forest Service, Medicine Bow National Forest, road decommission; State Parks, location and project not yet finalized; State Engineer, southeast Wyoming, rehabilitating and painting gage houses.

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