Wyoming State Parks given budget cuts, proposed fee increases to offset

Published: Sep. 28, 2020 at 10:40 PM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) -

Wyoming State Parks have proposed fee increases to offset recent budget cuts, and officials said that Cares Act funding is so detailed in what it can be used for, the increases are still needed to maintain our parks.

With ten percent budget cuts to all state agencies, we may have to see a little bit of a fee increase to continue enjoying our state parks at the current level in which they are open, cleaned, and maintained now.

Nick Neylon, Deputy Director of Wyoming State Parks stated, “One of the ways that we hope to offset some of those cuts is to use some of the money that we generate ourselves just to stay open and keep all of our facilities open and continue to provide the service at the levels that we provide [them].”

State Parks officials say all of the revenue generated from visitor fees go right back into the parks to fund enhancements, resource protection, new projects, and maintenance.

“Increasing fees is a way to give us more money to do those things. It’s important to note that every single penny that we raise through those fees goes back into the parks. We don’t use that money for anything else but maintaining and improving existing parks, ” emphasized Neylon.

Park officials say that the Cares Act funding did not take care of any of their current losses, they were only to hire seasonal employees to increase sanitizing, enforce distancing measures, and provide more cell service for ease with reservations. The majority of the fee increases would be coming from the pockets of out of state visitors, with their annual day use permits increasing by $26. However, Wyoming residents annual day use permits would still increase by $8.

“Increase in fees as long as they were going toward projects that were able to help the local communities and keep these places well managed, I get it. We have to spend more money into these things and out of towners or passer-throughs, yeah, use that tourist money,” noted North Carolina resident Zachary Hunter when asked whether he would continue to support Wyoming State Parks.

For Wyoming residents, the day use and camping fees would increase by $1 each, compared to out of state visitor fees being raised by $3 for day use and $4 for camping.

“If they provided the justification as to why they need the fee increase, and it was logical I would support it for out of staters. Moreso for out of staters than for the residents,” mentioned Wyoming resident Ashley Haddenham.

Public input will be allowed until November 14th, and people are encouraged to submit their comments to the Secretary of State’s website at http://rules.wyo.gov or via email to state.parks.parks@wyo.gov. Public meetings will happen at various locations throughout the state, but are not confirmed currently. To view the full list of proposed changes, visit http://rules.wyo.gov by using the advanced search for proposed rules. or by contacting Wyoming State Parks Headquarters at 2301 Central Avenue, Cheyenne, WY 82002. If the increases are approved, they would go into effect January 1, 2021.

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