This article is featured in the Spring 2022 issue of LAND magazine. Click here to find out more.

While WURX does indeed move dirt, it does so much more.

“WURX is a natural resource construction company, meaning we recognize the power of developing and conserving those life-giving elements—soil, water, and vegetation—that are not man-made,” said Rikki Altenburg, who with her husband Ryan, co-founded the company along with its parent company Western Heritage Consulting & Engineering. 

As a natural resource construction company, WURX is already a rarity, but the power of the Envision + Design + Build model makes it one-of-a-kind. Under the model, the Western Heritage team heads the Envision and Design phases, while WURX takes lead during the Build phase.

“We do it all—from developing the concept and engineering the plans to building a project out—with the single goal of making our clients’ vision a reality,” Rikki said. “In the process, we rely on creativity, common sense backed by accurate calculations, and years of real world experience to get the job done on time and on budget.” 

She continued, “Whether it’s a recreational ranch with hunting and fishing, a traditional livestock operation, corporate farming for an investment group, or anything else you can imagine, we can match your intent with our skills to enhance the productivity of your property as it relates to your goals. After all, every piece of land is a natural resource project.”

When it comes to projects, the company repertoire includes: streams, ponds, dams, wetlands, irrigation, crops and watersheds, civil site development, wildlife habitat enhancement, land development, agriculture improvements, permitting, excavation, pipelines, access and infrastructure, roads, utilities, reclamation and agronomic practices.

The two companies tackle projects across the country, with headquarters in Wyoming and branch offices in Colorado and Arizona “We’re used to making the most of water, not getting rid of it,” Rikki said laughing. 

The Big Picture

When considering heavy construction, creativity doesn’t always come to mind, but it should.

“Our creativity is how WURX solves your problems,” Rikki said. “We pride ourselves on pragmatic solutions that combine the most current technology and techniques with tried-and-true methods.”

While the team solves today’s problems, they never lose sight of the future. Because water is a key component of any natural resource construction project, it provides a prime example of the importance of a long-range vision.

“With changing weather patterns, especially in the West, water conservation is crucial,” Rikki said. “The operative question on any project, whether it’s a vineyard, a municipal park, a golf course, or an irrigated farm, is: How can we do what our clients want using the least amount of water possible and maximizing conservation? We look beyond the current situation to ensure that we’re making the most of this precious resource in the future, so projects are sustainable.”

The construction team’s experience helps ensure that the less-than-sexy, but crucial aspects of a project are not overlooked. Take ranch roads for instance. According to Rikki, roads may be the most overlooked improvement on a property, but they are one of most important components.

“A property is only as useful and enjoyable as the owner’s access to it,” she said. “People don’t always realize how important being able to get to and from all of their land’s features is until the weather—or something else—keeps them from doing it. We put our experience to work, so our clients get what they need as well as what they want.”

The Big Results

While WURX leads the build phase, it can be beneficial to include the company’s professionals during planning and design.

“Whenever WURX crews have a voice in the design process, they can help identify and solve challenges beforehand,” Rikki said. “When they arrive at the jobsite, they’re already aware of potential sticking points and are prepared to head them off.”

Addressing problems before they arise saves clients time and money. It also allows the WURX team to deliver on their promises. In the company culture, a handshake is as binding as a contract. 

“Clients return to us and refer their colleagues to us because they know we’re open, honest and that we do what we say we’re going to do,” Rikki said. “Plus, we thrive on challenges.” 

Over the past 10 years, clients have confidently brought their most demanding projects to Western Heritage Consulting & Engineering and WURX. Recently, the two teams worked together to demolish and rebuild two 100-year-old dams in Wyoming simultaneously.

To further complicate the project, both dams sat at an elevation of 10,000 feet, meaning the crews had to get the projects done in a narrow window of time before winter set in and stopped construction. In the end, the dams not only were completed, but according to the regulatory agency in charge “approved in record time because of the amount of detail and accurate calculations in the design.”

“We’re not just moving dirt, we’re building the future.”

—Rikki Altenburg  WURX

“Again—because it’s worth saying twice—we bring creativity to everything we do,” Rikki said. “With what we’ve seen, what we’ve built and our collective experience on the land, nothing scares us. Rarely do we say ‘can’t because we’re just gritty, problem-solvers.”

While the teams will use trusted local contractors when it makes sense, WURX is primarily self-performing. A company foreman will always be on site managing the project

“Good intentions don’t ensure good results,” Rikki said. “If you don’t have qualified personnel on site who understand the ramifications of all project phases, it’s possible to do more harm than good to the habitat, the water or the other natural resources. Mistakes cost time, money and ecological productivity.”

From top to bottom, everyone at WURX is dedicated to getting it right the first time. 

“We work with Mother Nature, not against her,” Rikki said. “It’s the only way to succeed.”

Team members across both companies bring experience, passion and truckloads of western grit to the field. As ranchers, farmers, hunters, anglers and outdoors enthusiasts themselves, they understand the land and the lifestyle in the clear-eyed, no nonsense way that comes from living it. Everyone takes pride in a shared work ethic that runs deep and wide. Quality is job one.

WURX Project Foreman Zach Nelson, could have been speaking on behalf of all of his construction colleagues, when he said, “Being entrusted with the physical manifestation of a vision is both a challenge and an honor. The challenge is forging the vision into reality.  The honor is in the trust placed in me to deliver the completed product. “

Land stewardship is a professional and personal passion.

“As a company and as individuals, we have a strong commitment to leaving the land better than we found it,” Rikki said. “We’re not just moving dirt, we’re building the future.” 

Casper, Wyoming
Scottsdale, Arizona

Western Heritage Consulting & Engineering
Casper, Wyoming
307-215-7430 | Wyoming
970-245-4133 | Colorado


  • avatar
    Lorie A. Woodward

    Staff Writer

    Lorie A. Woodward has worked as a writer and public relations practitioner exploring the intersection of agriculture, natural resources and public policy throughout her career. Her professional journey, which has included stints in the public and private sector, has taken her across the country and around the world, where she has been enthralled by the people of the land and their stories. Before joining LAND magazines and as a staff writer, she served as president of Woodward Communications and co-founded the family of publications, focusing on life in the rolling hills of central Texas where country meets city. Woodward, the mother of two grown children, was reared on a ranch near Lexington, Texas, but now makes her home in Brenham, Texas.

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