This article is featured in the Fall 2020 issue of LAND magazine. Click here to find out more.
The professionals at Western Heritage Consulting and Engineering, led by co-founders and principal owners Ryan and Rikki Altenburg, Envision, Design and Build dreams for clients across the American West.
“When Ryan and I started Western Heritage, we vowed to create a firm with the technical expertise and the bold creativity that would allow our clients to dream big,” Rikki said. “Every client who buys a piece of property—large or small—has their vision of what it can become.”
She continued, “Our experienced team provides an effective, efficient, common sense approach to engineering that makes dreams come true.”
Headquartered in Casper, Wyoming, the corporation has three divisions: WURX LLC and Western Heritage Consulting & Engineering LLC based in Casper, Wyoming, and Paragon Engineering Consultants, Inc. located in Littleton, Colorado.
“Regardless of the project, regardless of the dream, the Western Heritage team strives to make it a reality,” said Rikki, noting the team members who are highly skilled in engineering and construction also have agriculture, hunting, angling and outdoors passion that they bring to each job.
While the Western Heritage team thrives on the challenges inherent in each type of project, their shared passion for the outdoors and private land stewardship make farm and ranch development and improvement favored undertakings.
Regardless of the project, regardless of the dream, the Western Heritage team strives to make it a reality.”—Rikki Altenburg
Co-founder & Principal Owner
“Each time we work on a piece of land, whether it’s for conservation, water development, restoration or preservation, the next generation is always at the top of our minds,” Rikki said. “Legacy generally is the deep-rooted reason for a land purchase. The legacy is fueled by smiles, laughter and memories, not just by return on investment, so it’s important to do things the right way, not the easiest way, to keep the landowner’s property productive for generations to come.”
The only way to do things right is to clearly understand the landowner’s goals and overarching vision.
“It can’t be built if you can’t envision it,” Rikki said. “The best advice I can give landowners is to ensure you’re working with people who have the expertise to help you define your vision—and the common sense to bring it together so it’s workable and in budget.”
Experience has shown the Western Heritage team that enhancing the old by adding the new is a solid strategy for stretching the budget and maximizing a property’s value. Whether the project is in the design or construction phase, Rikki suggests identifying solid existing pieces of infrastructure, be it a section of the irrigation system or stabilized river, and utilizing them as part of the property’s upgrade.
“Mother Nature and our forefathers were—and are—often more in tune with the rhythms of the land than many convervationists are today, so we suggest using what they gave us when we can,” Ryan said. “I don’t believe that everything has to be brand new and state-of-the-art because that simply isn’t the best approach for every piece of land or management team.”
As a team, the Western Heritage professionals use a stress-free approach to help clients discern and verbalize their goals for their land.
“The company you choose should understand the project’s entire scope and be able to execute it,” Ryan said. “Even if the project is broken up into phases and lasts a decade, each phase should be engineered and constructed to ensure costs are controlled, your needs are met—and that each individual piece fits seamlessly into the big picture.”
No client and no ranch are identical; therefore, the Western Heritage team approaches each project as a one-of-a-kind. As a result, they have acquired vastly varied experience in rural land development.
On working ranches, the team is often asked to develop or improve forage and water for livestock and wildlife.
“Water distribution is a big challenge on large ranches, so we frequently design and install systems so livestock doesn’t have to travel so far for water,” said Rikki, noting they often design and construct livestock handling systems, water storage ponds and reservoirs and tank systems. “We design and install a lot of water transmission pipelines, so our owners are able to utilize more of their assets.”
Owners of recreational property often request improved wildlife habitat, efficient irrigation or water distribution, and construction of a host of amenities ranging from natural resource design and build of ponds and streams, access roads, utility infrastructure and on to specialty additions such as polo fields and performance arenas. The WH Team also coordinates architects and builders for barns, homes and large-scale lodges.
Corporate farms often start with barren ground that has to have soil health restored before it begins paying dividends through productivity. Working farms and ranches often need assistance saving on labor costs and increasing productivity and irrigation efficiency, all of which strengthen the bottom line.
“In the West, nothing is more important than water—and its availability heavily influences land’s value,” Rikki said. “Understanding what landowners can and cannot do with the water associated with their land, as well as conserving and developing the water for its best use, is something we believe in strongly and are proud to help guide our client landowners through.”
While the Western Heritage team, as the name implies, understands the value of a proud past, they embrace the opportunities of the future.
“There is always a future with the land and the possibilities to make it even more resource-rich and beautiful,” Rikki said. “Rarely do two people have the same vision for land—and we get to bring those visions to reality project after project, family after family, creating a legacy for today and tomorrow.”
Since its inception, Western Heritage has existed to provide a common-sense approach to engineering in an efficient and effective manner. Every client that buys a piece of land, big or small, has a vision or dream in their mind of what they want. The team at Western Heritage takes that dream and makes it a reality. They are highly experienced in construction and engineering, and their team members have agriculture, hunting, fishing and outdoor passions and experiences that allow them to bring real-world understanding to each project. Find out more→ WesternHCE.com
Ryan is the Co-Owner and Principal of WH Companies. Having worked in natural resources for over 20 years, utilizing his Agriculture Engineering degree from Texas A&M University, Ryan works to combine engineering principles with biological and agricultural sciences, allowing him to develop systems and processes that help improve water and natural resource systems and how they are managed and operated. He has passion for helping landowners define their vision, then he and his team create it. When Ryan isn’t working, he enjoys fishing, hunting, roping and spending time with his wife and two young children.
Rikki, Co-Owner of WH Companies, holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Colorado Mesa University and brings 20 years of management and client relations experience in leading WH Companies’ daily operations, with the company culture being built around her customer service standards, honesty and integrity. Rikki is a licensed real estate agent and strives to bridge the gap between the property closing, through the design and construction phase, to the final reality of a client’s vision. She enjoys spending time with her husband and two young children, lake life and barrel racing.