Game and Fish GIS technology work recognized with international award

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is being recognized for outstanding work with geographic information system (GIS) technology. The department’s GIS section was selected by Esri (Software GIS Program) as a recipient of the 2021 Special Achievement in GIS award for the enterprise reorganization and upgrades to Game and Fish map data systems.

Game and Fish’s GIS section is responsible for the map data that biologists and policy-makers use to inform decisions for fish, wildlife and habitat management. That’s information like hunt area boundaries, Game and Fish property data, big game seasonal ranges or where invasive species like cheatgrass are growing.

“It’s authoritative data,” said Kirk Nordyke, geospatial technology supervisor. “That means, Game and Fish is who collects the data and manages it — including providing it to others for decision-making.”

Having an up-to-date GIS database for that authoritative data was important for the department, and was prioritized for upgrades in 2017. Fish and wildlife biologists – as well as others within the Game and Fish – needed to have easy access to all data, from anywhere in the state. The GIS section worked to move their data from internal storage to a cloud-based solution. 

“This was innovative for data management in the State of Wyoming, and it put more – and  current – information in the hands of people who are doing important work on the ground for wildlife,” said Denise Jensen, GIS developer.

Game and Fish was selected for the SAG from more than 100,000 Esri users worldwide. 

“The department’s GIS section took on a robust challenge to modernize geospatial technology access. The SAG award is true recognition of the collaboration between many in Game and Fish to manage Wyoming’s wildlife with the best available data and science,” said Eric Wiltanger, chief of services who oversees IT operations.

The Game and Fish GIS section team members recognized include Kirk Nordyke, Denise Jensen, Troy Gerhardt, Erica Cirigliano and Thomas Koenig. Additional Game and Fish employees who assisted are Darby Schok, Paul Dey, Mark Smith, Brian Rognan, Nyssa Whitford, Micah Morris and Cheyenne Stewart.

“It’s nice to be recognized for the work, and we know this change will make a world of difference for our end-users, who are our colleagues, as well as wildlife, fish and the public,” Nordyke said.

This is the second time the Game and Fish’s GIS section has won a SAG award; in 2016 they were recognized for the Wyoming Hunt Planner, known today as the premier planning and map tool for anyone embarking on a Wyoming hunt.