Team Rubicon Veterans on Refuges


Team Rubicon volunteers built a new pony corral at Chincoteague Refuge in Virginia in summer 2016. (Photo: TeamRubiconUSA)

November 10 - Team Rubicon is a non-profit organization that unites the skills and experiences of military veterans and first responders to create emergency response teams. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s heavy equipment training expands the team’s capabilities and provides a trained volunteer cadre that can assist in projects on national wildlife refuges. Training in the use of heavy equipment and firefighting also improves the veterans’ chances of finding jobs that require these skills.

Team Rubicon volunteers

Working side by side with USFWS employees, Team Rubicon volunteers laid decking for a new boardwalk at Great Meadows Refuge, Massachusetts. (Photo: TeamRubiconUSA)

training team Rubicon heavy equipment operators

Along with training ten new Team Rubicon heavy equipment operators, seven Team Rubicon volunteers spent a day at the Assabet River Refuge, Massachusetts, clearing brush and debris. (Photo: TeamRubiconUSA)

Team Rubicon members responded to a tornado disaster at Rappahannock River Valley Refuge, Virginia; built boardwalks at Great Meadows Refuge, Massachusetts, and Canaan Valley Refuge, West Virginia,  Refuges; and constructed a deck at Monomoy Lighthouse, Massachusetts. 

Heavy equipment training has been held at Laguna Atascosa Refuge, Texas; San Diego Refuge, California; Blackwater Refuge, Maryland; Turnbull Refuge, Washington, and Assabet River Refuge, Massachusetts, with the heavy equipment often donated by Case Construction Equipment.  

In 2015, a $300,000 grant from American Express was used to train volunteers to work on disaster mitigation and habitat improvement projects, including responding to wildfires on public lands.

Team Rubicon also performed some of the most challenging tasks in a habitat reclamation project at Sonny Bono Salton Sea Refuge, California. The volunteers excavated about two feet of sand along a 4,000 foot berm – ultimately saving the refuge more than $80,000.  The restored portion of the Salton Sea will serve migratory birds needing fuel for their long flights and people seeking to enjoy nature. Salton Sea project leader Chris Schoneman says the restoration project “will also stop harmful dust from becoming airborne on windy days and causing negative health impacts to residents of Imperial County, who already have the highest childhood asthma rate in California due to existing air quality.”

Team Rubicon also built a new pony corral at Chincoteague Refuge in Virginia in summer 2016. Refuge manager Kevin Sloan said, “It’s always great when the stars align allowing us to combine so many positive outcomes in one effort.  In this project, we were able to clear pine trees killed by Southern pine beetle, utilize the skills of Team Rubicon and upgrade facilities for the Saltwater Cowboys (volunteers who maintain the herd of Chincoteague ponies) and the Chincoteague ponies.”