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BLM Ranger.

BLM Ranger Aaron Kania.

Receiving a helping hand.

Kania receives a helping hand from a few hard-working volunteers from the Big Horn Basin Adolescent Program during a workday in the Lower Renner Wildlife Habitat Management Area.


Volunteers haul a couch off of public land during a summer cleanup day.

The JAKES are worn out.

The JAKES are worn out after picking up target-shooting debris all morning.

Hay used to rehabilitate.

Kania peeks out from behind the hay used to rehabilitate roads in the Upper Nowood Road Management Area.

Involving Community in Public Land Improvements is a Priority for Worland Ranger

When he’s not enforcing off highway vehicle (OHV) regulations or checking backcountry BLM roads, Law Enforcement Ranger Aaron Kania can often be found working with the local community to improve public lands during the summer months. This year alone, Kania organized several cleanups and two road rehabilitation projects on public lands in the Worland Field Office area.

In May, Kania coordinated a work day with the Big Horn Basin Adolescent Program in Basin, Wyo., to reclaim roads that are no longer used in the Lower Renner Wildlife Habitat Management Area. After the old routes had been tilled and seeded by contractors, the young volunteers placed limbs and sagebrush branches over the routes to break up the visual line and help protect the new seedlings. The Big Horn Basin Adolescent Program specializes in helping troubled youth, and provides long-term care for boys and girls ages 10 through 17.

Kania sees the benefits of working with members of the local community and finds opportunities to do so. This summer, a group of local recreationists suggested a cleanup of an area where they enjoy riding OHVs. Kania organized the project and enlisted the help of the recreationists and other volunteers. The BLM provided the trailer and paid the landfill fees. The group removed approximately three tons of tires, metal and other trash that day.

"The BLM wouldn't be able to do this kind of work without the dedication and enthusiasm of volunteers like these," said Kania, who guides and works side-by-side with volunteers during projects like these.

July 8 was a busy day for Kania—he organized two simultaneous cleanups along Fifteenmile Road west of Worland. The first was a community service project for the National Wild Turkey Federation’s JAKES program. The JAKES program is dedicated to informing, educating and involving North America’s youth in wildlife conservation and the wise stewardship of our natural resources.

The JAKES cleaned-up public land that has historically been used as a target shooting area. The young people spent the morning picking up shotgun shells, targets, cans and bottles. Other illegal dumping also occurs in the area: TVs, microwave ovens and other electronics were found.

At the same time, just down the road, Kania had arranged for a group of inmates to clean up a gravel pit area where a 4th of July fireworks event had just been held. The JAKES and the inmates removed approximately two tons of trash that day. The BLM provided the trailer and paid the landfill fees for both cleanups.

Private landowners near Otto, Wyo., have made another public land cleanup an annual community event in conjunction with the BLM. They brought in groups to help including the LDS Young Women and Men Groups, the National Honor Society and the Boy Scouts. This summer, the community removed 120 cubic tons of trash from public land. Kania organized and paid for the dumpster and landfill fees.

“With the help of all these different groups, we basically got rid of a train car load of garbage from public land this summer,” said Kania.

Kania finished off the summer improvements with a second road rehabilitation project. This time, he hosted two work days in the Upper Nowood Road Management Area to reclaim roads that are no longer authorized following the implementation of a travel management plan in the area. Volunteers and BLM staff alike spread bales of certified weed free wheat straw onto old routes to provide cover for new plants and to help retain water. A BLM contractor spread native seed and sugar on the reclaimed routes. The sugar is intended to give the seed an advantage over cheatgrass by adding carbon to the soil. The Upper Nowood area is a multiple use area that is heavily used by hunters.

As snow begins to cover some of the two million acres of public land he is responsible for patrolling, Kania has been busying himself with hunting season and his other duties. But when the roads begin to dry again next spring, he’ll return to his public land improvement projects, rallying the local communities along with him.

Last updated: 12-22-2010