Ground breaks on Dry Piney project

SUBLETTE COUNTY – The mood was jovial, proud – even excited – as the Dry Piney wildlife crossings’ past and present collaborators met on the sunny morning of May 10 to officially break ground for nine wildlife passages to run underneath Highway 189 and 16 miles of tall fences lining both sides of the road.

While the ceremonial groundbreaking was hosted by the Wyoming Game and Fish and Wyoming Department of Transportation, federal and county officials also attended to applaud the beginning of the $15-plus-million project they supported over many years leading up to that day.

Former Sublette County commissioners Mack Rawhouser and Dr. Dave Burnett had long emphasized the need for some way to prevent migrating and meandering mule deer and pronghorn from becoming collision victims, as had former Game and Fish Commission member Mike Schmid of LaBarge. The three greeted each other like long-lost friends.

Current county commissioners Doug Vickrey and Dave Stephens attended for their constituents, also aware of the longtime need to mitigate the disastrous results of wildlife and vehicle collisions. The county is providing dirt work and aggregate for the nine box culverts to be installed.

Wyoming Game and Fish Director Brian Nesvik spoke about the project’s importance “to celebrate Wyoming’s values” of wildlife conservation and safe travels through the Dry Piney stretch of Highway 189. As far back as 2008, he said, agencies, landowners and wildlife groups worked behind the scenes to arrive at this day.

“It’s absolutely critical for our wildlife to have connections to their habitat,” Nesvik said. “Hats off to the District 3 team, they are phenomenal partners. This place has one of the highest rates of mule deer-vehicle collisions, which is a bad thing for both the deer and people in the vehicles.”

WYOT Director Luke Reiner also hailed the collaboration that started at the grassroots level.

“In every construction job, we prioritize wildlife, conservation and public safety,” he said.

Everyone wore bright orange or green safety vests and hardhats at the active construction site. As the groundbreaking ceremony wrapped up, equipment was moved into place, signs unveiled and warning lights flashed.

© 2022-Sublette Examiner


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