The more-than-30-year-old Rifle Ranger District office of the White River National Forest is undergoing a remodeling project designed to make the building more energy efficient.
The office covers the far western portion of the forest and manages livestock grazing, timber and vegetation management and oil and natural gas leasing programs.
More than a decade after starting planning, District Ranger Glenn Adams received final approval for the approximately $950,000 project last year.
"You have to compete for the money," he said. "There's only so many dollars allocated every year among the Forest Service to rebuild buildings."
Adams said the expansion will nearly double the size of the office and added the project could be a model for future public buildings, with reductions in water and energy use, waste recycling, and the use of geothermal and solar energy sources.
Some office personnel are helping forest visitors out of temporary quarters next to the building while the work continues, while three are working from the Bureau of Land Management office near Silt and others from their homes, Adams said.
Senior project manager Dan Anderson said they started work in mid-October and removed all the siding, insulation and sheeting, then the building was reinsulated and had new sheeting and siding installed.
"The siding is fiber cement, which is more sturdy siding that was on there before," he added.
New construction includes insulation that's blown in "so it fits in the nooks and crannies tighter," Anderson stated.
High efficiency windows and doors are also included, he said.
The geothermal system pumps a form of anti-freeze through a series of pipes in the walls and buried 328 feet below the surface, where the temperature is a constant 56 degrees, Anderson explained. The liquid helps keep the building cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
Construction is expected to be finished in May and an open house is planned soon after work ends.
"We're working in a place that people should feel proud to come to," Adams said. "They can be proud that it's their building, it's being run efficiently and it's a warm, welcoming place."
Colorado Mountain College radio production students in the Isaacson School for New Media contributed to this story.