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Shawano native takes over as Fort McCoy Natural Resources specialist

Shawano native takes over as Fort McCoy Natural Resources specialist

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Kevin Luepke

Natural Resources Specialist Kevin Luepke with the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch pounds in a stake to hold a tree in place June 4, 2020, at South Post Housing at Fort McCoy.

He’s only been on the job as a natural resources specialist for the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch for six months, but Kevin Luepke has a long history of supporting Fort McCoy’s programs.

“My responsibilities are quite broad,” Luepke said. “This includes supporting the invasive plant species, wildlife, threatened and endangered species, and prescribed burn programs at Fort McCoy. My biggest contribution, I believe, will be with the invasive plant species program, but I hope my contributions to other natural-resources programs also have a big impact as well.”

Luepke worked for many years with the Colorado State University Center for the Environmental Management of Military Lands, which completes work through a cooperative agreement directly supporting Fort McCoy’s natural- and cultural-resources programs.

“During my time with CSU, I worked as part of the field crew for two years before moving into the field crew leader position, which I held for roughly nine to 10 years. I became very familiar with Fort McCoy, its wildlife, and invasive plant species,” Luepke said. “From there, I moved into the wildlife coordinator position with CSU for roughly two years, which strictly dealt with the planning and coordination of wildlife projects that the Fort McCoy wildlife biologist Dave Beckmann oversaw. I then applied for and was selected for my current position as part of the Natural Resource Branch team.”

Luepke is a native of Shawano, where he graduated from high school in 2000. He later attended the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in wildlife management in 2005.

“From an early age, I enjoyed being in the outdoors,” Luepke said. “When I needed to start thinking about a career field to pursue, I heard from teachers, guidance counselors, and others that ‘if you enjoy your work, you will never work a day in your life.’ From then on, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in natural resources, specifically a career in wildlife management.

“During my time in Shawano and Stevens Point, I became very accustomed to the rather flat ground with the occasional rolling hills in the Wisconsin countryside. After I moved to the Fort McCoy area in 2005, I fell in love with the Coulee Region with the steep ridges and beautiful bluffs.”

Luepke said protecting natural resources is important.

“Protecting and conserving natural resources is very important to me for many reasons, but the main reason is that even though many natural resources are renewable resources, they still need to be protected and conserved for future generations to enjoy and use,” he said.

Luepke said he also enjoys working with a very experienced staff within the NRB.

“Over the past 15 years of working on Fort McCoy with CSU, I have gotten to know the Natural Resources Branch staff very well,” Luepke said. “The folks within the NRB are always very team oriented, easy to work with, and very willing to pass along the knowledge they have accumulated over the years.

“The NRB team is very dedicated to protecting the natural resources on the installation and doing their part for the Fort McCoy team that makes it possible for Fort McCoy to continue to provide many great training opportunities for the Army and the Department of Defense.”

He added that he is looking forward to new opportunities in the future to support the installation.

“I am very gracious and excited for the opportunity to continue my career in natural resources at Fort McCoy,” Luepke said. “I look forward to the new opportunities and challenges in the years to come.”

NRB chief Tim Wilder, who is also a longtime biologist at Fort McCoy, said he appreciates what Luepke brings to the team.

“Bringing new individuals into the organization is always an exciting time, Wilder said. “New employees have a fresh perspective and a new way of looking at workplace challenges and opportunities. Bringing in new employees now who can glean institutional knowledge from the current staff while adding their own unique way of accomplishing tasks will only make the organization stronger.

“Kevin will continue to be spending up to 50 percent of his time making decisions on how to best manage the 40-plus invasive plant species currently found on the installation,” Wilder said. “If not controlled, invasive species can negatively impact the military training mission and degrade the habitat for native wildlife, to include endangered species.”

Fort McCoy has provided support and facilities for the field and classroom training of more than 100,000 military personnel from all services each year since 1984.

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Tomah Journal editor

Steve Rundio is editor of the Tomah Journal. Contact him at 608-374-7785.

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