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21 May 2024

Wyoming State Parks Ranger saves boy from Popo Agie River

May 21, 2024

A potential catastrophic incident was narrowly averted by the quick actions of a Wyoming State Parks Ranger at Sinks Canyon on Thursday.

While on patrol, Wyoming State Park Ranger Lonnie Porter was approached by a park visitor, who reported that a child had fallen into the Popo Agie River at Sinks Canyon State Park and had been swept away in the rapids.

Ranger Porter immediately arrived at the scene and observed an 11-year-old boy clinging to a rock in the middle of the river. Ranger Porter requested swift water rescue assistance and EMS support. However, due to the current spring runoff conditions, the river was running high and the water was extremely cold.

Ranger Porter instructed the boy to stay in his current position. Ranger Porter along with State Parks worker Ronnie Disbrow gathered the necessary equipment to execute a swift water rescue. He deployed a throw rope to the child, who was able to wrap it around his arm.  Because of the extremely cold water and high stress of the circumstances, the child's cognitive and physical abilities were rapidly declining.  Ranger Porter recognized that these factors were significantly increasing the risk to the child, and made the decision to immediately execute the rescue. Ranger Porter and Disbrow pulled the child through the rapids and back to shore.

As soon as the boy was on the shore, he was rushed to Ranger Porter's patrol truck to start medical care. Ranger Porter along with Wyoming Game and Fish Warden Zack Burnhart administered care that included wrapping the child in emergency blankets in an effort to get him warm and raise his body temperature back to normal levels. A short time later, an ambulance crew arrived and took over patient care. The boy was transported to Sage West Hospital in Lander where he was treated for hypothermia.

“Ranger Porter’s quick actions and use of his water rescue training skills helped prevent a loss of life”. Mark Caughlan – Wyoming State Parks Chief Ranger

A big thank you to Ranger Porter for taking the quick and decisive action necessary to make sure that this story had a happy ending.

09 May 2024

Upcoming Changes for Hot Springs State Park: Information and Frequently Asked Questions

Press Release 4/22/24

Wyoming State Parks has announced the selection of Wyoming Hot Springs LLC as their partner for the future growth and development of concessions at Hot Springs State Park.  “This marks the conclusion of our thorough and public RFP process, and reaffirms our commitment to the values expressed by the community in the Hot Springs State Park master plan,” said Big Horn District Manager, Brooks Jordan.  The company currently operates family-oriented hot springs resorts in three locations across Nevada, New Mexico, and Wyoming.

“This partnership offers an opportunity to create the best visitor experience in Wyoming, and to have a tremendous economic impact in the community and across the region,” said Nick Neylon, Wyoming State Parks Deputy Director.

Visitors to the park will see upgrades to the TePee Pools facilities, including the proposed future full reconstruction to transform the facility into a new spa and wellness center, featuring more adult-oriented, quiet, relaxing experiences, focused on the healing properties of the waters.  The Star Plunge and Hot Springs Hotel will continue to operate under existing management through the conclusion of their current contracts. At that time, Wyoming Hot Springs LLC will begin remodeling or reconstruction of both facilities.  These upgrades will include the addition of enough meeting space to host conventions that typically visit other parts of the state.

Hot Springs County Board of Commissioners Chairman Thomas J. Ryan said, “We believe that this project, when completed, will enhance the core business area of Thermopolis and Hot Springs County, existing area tourist attractions, and have a beneficial effect on the economy of the State of Wyoming as a whole”.

Wyoming Hot Springs LLC's primary representative, Mark Begich, is a long-time business owner specializing in business development, travel, and tourism across several Western states and Alaska.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

How will these changes affect Thermopolis?
It is the goal of State Parks that proposed changes to the park will have positive impacts throughout the community.

Why do the pools need upgrades?
Both pools have significant repair, maintenance, and safety issues that need to be addressed, and it is the responsibility of State Parks to ensure that happens.  

Will prices go up? 
Prices for some services may go up in the future.  However, State Parks will work closely with any new concessionaire to ensure appropriate and fair prices, including potential discounted rates for residents.  Additionally, the State Bath House is now and will always be free to the public for daily use.

Did Wyo Parks seek input from the public before making these changes?
Changes planned for Hot Springs State Park are guided by the park’s master plan, which was developed in 2016 with extensive public input.

Will the Star Plunge be shut down?
Upon successful negotiations with a new concessionaire, a new concession will open at the location of the current Star Plunge. During this transition, there may be brief periods that the facility is closed during construction, but work will be planned to minimize impacts, and to keep the other two pool facilities (TePee and State Bath House) open during that time.  

What is the timeline for renovations and new construction?
State Parks is negotiating with the successful proposer.  What happens and when, will be largely determined by those negotiations.

Why does State Parks plan to replace the current managers of the Star Plunge and the Hot Springs Hotel and Spa?  
The current management agreement for the Star Plunge expires at the end of this year. The current management agreement for the Hot Springs Hotel and Spa expires in October 2026. 

Pursuant to W.S. 36-4-110(b) and State Park’s rules, the agency is required to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) for any new long-term concession agreement.  In 2023, the agency issued an RFP for constructing, operating, and managing new or substantially improved lodging and aquatic facilities within Hot Springs State Park including the option to propose significant redevelopment at the current Star Plunge and Hot Springs Hotel and Spa sites.  

The RFP was open to the public, and anyone (including any existing managers) had the opportunity to submit proposals.  Although the current manager of the Star Plunge submitted a proposal, it did not score highest among the three proposals received. 

What company was chosen in the RFP process?  
The company chosen was Wyoming Hot Springs LLC.

Who has been responsible for paying property taxes, and why should a business have to pay property taxes on something it does not own?
The lease and management agreements signed by the manager of the Star Plunge clearly state, and have always stated, that the manager is responsible for any taxes due, regardless of ownership.

Who is getting the $3,000,000 set aside by the legislature to improve the park?
As noted in the public RFP, $3,000,000 will be used to improve park infrastructure as needed.  This may include roads, sidewalks, water/sewer/electrical service, etc.  The money will not be given directly to any park concessionaire.

Why not just pay the “owners” of the Star Plunge?  
As stated previously, the agreements signed by Star Plunge management over the past decades, all make it very clear that they are not due compensation at the conclusion of the lease or management agreement.  Concessionaires or managers are “compensated” through the operation of the facility over the term of the agreement.  The manager of the Star Plunge paid the State $200 per year from 1958-1989, then 1% of its gross revenue (ranging from $3,000-$8,000) until 2021, when it started paying $1,000 per month. These low rates allowed the manager to retain most of its annual profits.  

Won’t a lawsuit cost the state more than a settlement?
We cannot comment on litigation that does not exist.

Why did the State choose an out-of-state resident to run concessions in the park?
The State conducted an open, public, and transparent RFP process.  The only considerations were the best interests of the State and its residents.  The location of any proposer’s residence was not, and could not be considered.

Has the State Parks Director reviewed the protests filed by the Star Plunge management?
The Director is aware of the protests, but there is no bid protest process for this RFP.

Will improvements made at the park negatively affect local businesses, and specifically, will park improvements affect a fitness center that was recently built in Thermopolis?
Any new developments will positively impact the local economy and many businesses in the region. We anticipate that any new hotel would only feature the type of small and very limited workout room found at virtually every hotel, and we have no plans to allow anything that would compete with the existing fitness center.

 

07 March 2024

Fire restrictions instituted at Curt Gowdy State Park

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March 7, 2024

In accordance with similar restrictions instituted by the Laramie County Commission, open fires are restricted at Curt Gowdy State Park until further notice.

Despite the open fire restriction, an enjoyable camping experience is still possible at Curt Gowdy State Park.

Propane grills and stoves and charcoal grills can still be used to prepare popular camping dishes and provide adequate warmth. These grills must have covers/lids and be within an arm’s length when lit. A variety of other imaginative ideas can help preserve the camping experience such as solar lights in the firepit.

Additionally, use of acetylene cutting torches, electric arc welders or metal grinding in a cleared radius of 15 feet from burnable materials are permitted.

The use of lanterns using gas, jellied petroleum, pressurized liquid fuel or fully enclosed (sheep-herder type) stoves in a cleared radius of 15 feet of burnable materials is permitted.

However, as always park patrons are reminded that possession of all fireworks is prohibited in all Wyoming State Parks.

28 February 2024

Monuments and Markers Advisory Committee to meet March 5

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February 27, 2024

The Wyoming State Parks and Cultural Resources Monuments and Markers Advisory Committee will meet virtually on Google Meet Tuesday, March 5, from 1 – 3 pm. 

 

Time zone: America/Denver

Google Meet joining info

Video call link: https://meet.google.com/mar-egmt-ssz

Or dial: (US) +1 573-559-1893 PIN: 350 854 825#

 

The objective of this meeting is to revisit prior matters, select new members for the advisory committee, and review ongoing projects. The advisory committee will review handbook edits and four new interpretive signs slated to be erected in the Riverton area. Themes include the western expansion, agriculture, boom and bust, expansion period, and communal growth. Additionally, the advisory committee will review text intended for the forthcoming Rawhide Butte sign.

The Wyoming Monuments and Markers Program is a cooperative effort of the Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources (SPCR), the Wyoming Department of Transportation, the Wyoming Office of Tourism, Tribal representatives, local governments, and private individuals and organizations. The Monuments and Markers Program installs new historical markers and maintains existing monuments, markers, and interpretive signage. The Monuments and Markers Advisory Committee (MMAC) reviews and approves all new signage and signage with revised text under the jurisdiction of SPCR. The MMAC may also be consulted for recommendations for the maintenance and replacement of markers.

For further information, please contact Dan Bach, Monuments and Markers Coordinator, at 307-777-6314 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  To learn more about the Wyoming Monuments and Markers Program, visit https://bit.ly/3E1xV2V.

14 February 2024

Wyoming State Parks & Cultural Resources Artist in Residence Program

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February 14, 2024

The Wyoming Department of State Parks & Cultural Resources announces a call for artists to apply for the 2024 Artist in Residence Program.

This program joins visual artists with the wonder and unexpected opportunities in Wyoming State Parks. This is a 10-day road trip residency in August 2024 where artists will have a choice of itinerary that includes visiting a minimum of four State Parks to be inspired by the beauty of the state. 

The Wyoming State Parks & Cultural Resources Artist in Residence program is open to visual artists. Both established and emerging artists are welcome to apply.

The selected artist will receive a $3500 stipend and waived camping and day-use fees. Camping is required, no gear will be provided although cabins, yurts, and/or dorm housing will be offered. The selected artist must have their own vehicle and must be a year-round resident of Wyoming and at least 18 years of age.

Selected artists will be required to document the residency through blog and social media posts. Artists must create a minimum of 10 pieces inspired by their experience for the Artist in Residence Show and Sale, hosted at the Wyoming State Museum, November - January.

This is a joint program through Wyoming State Parks and the Wyoming Arts Council.

The deadline to apply is Monday, April 15, 2024 at 11:59 p.m. MST. Applications must be submitted online through https://artist.callforentry.org/festivals_unique_info.php?ID=13093

Additional information can be found on the State Parks https://wyoparks.wyo.gov/index.php/news-events/artist-in-residency. Complete eligibility requirements can be found on https://artist.callforentry.org/festivals_unique_info.php?ID=13093.

For more information, contact Kimberly Mittelstadt, Creative Arts Specialist at the Wyoming Arts Council, 307-274-6673 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Caption: 2023 Wyoming State Parks & Cultural Resources Artist in Residence, Bria Hammock, at Keyhole State Park. 

09 February 2024

Bear River State Park Soapbox Sled Derby scheduled February 17

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February 9, 2024

Experience a new version of a classic event by participating in the Bear River State Park Soapbox Sled Derby on February 17, beginning at 11 a.m. at the sledding hill at the park.

Embrace your creative side by designing a special sled that’s not only artistic but fast! Teams can range from solo to up to six riders. Competition categories will be decided based on number of entrants. Sign up now at https://wyoparks.info/BRSPSledDerby or on site.

 

·  Sleds (snow boxes) can be constructed using only cardboard, paper, soft plastic, paint tape or glue, with no metal or hard plastic including staples, nails, and tacks can be used.

 

·  Snow boxes can be no bigger than 6-foot by 4-foot with four sides a minimum of six inches tall. Participants must fit entirely inside the sled. Helmets are recommended.

 

·  Before racing, snow boxes will be inspected by a judge.

 

Racers are allowed to have two pushers to give them a helpful shove at the starting line, but then riders are on their own. Racers must stay in their snow box but can use arms, legs or other means to propel themselves across the finish line.

Prizes will be awarded for the fastest to the finish line, best crash, and best thematic.

09 February 2024

Award-winning Trails Program provides state-wide recreational opportunities Summer and Winter

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February 9, 2024

Recently recognized by the Coalition for Recreational Trails (CRT) for the eleventh time, the Wyoming Trails Program has long been established as providing some of the best non-motorized and motorized trails in the region.

For the avid snowmobile user, off-road vehicle enthusiast, mountain biker, hiker, and equestrian the Trails program’s efforts are evident, but for members of the general public, it may not be apparent the number of hours and labor put into providing such a lucrative and valued recreational opportunity.

According to CRT, the organization is an alliance of national and regional trail-related organizations across a broad spectrum of interests representing motorized and non-motorized communities. Its members work together to build awareness and understanding of the Recreational Trails Program (RTP), which returns federal gasoline taxes paid by off-highway recreationists to the states for trail development.

Tax monies are distributed using a 30% motorized, 30% non-motorized, and 40% diversified equation to split up the state's allocated funding. A process that is overseen by the Wyoming State Trails Advisory Council, a 10-member board appointed by the Governor's office to represent a variety of trail uses 

The Wyoming Trails program has previously been recognized by CRT in the categories of Communication and Education, Maintenance and Rehabilitation, Public and Private Partnerships, Environmental and Wildlife Compatibility, Multiple Use Management and Corridor Sharing, and this year for Construction and Design.

But what is it exactly that the Wyoming Trails Program does? Based in Lander, The Wyoming Trails Program maintains recreational trails statewide which is no easy task considering the Cowboy State ranks tenth in the nation in land mass at 97,813 square miles. Funding for these efforts is generated by snowmobile and ORV permits and federally by gasoline excise tax.

Due to the majority of the revenue being generated by motorized registration sales and fuel tax, the program is limited to solely the non-motorized portion of federal funding provided through RTP to fund non-motorized projects throughout the state, leaving a significant backlog in maintenance on non-motorized trails which expresses the need for other non-motorized funding mechanisms.  

Beginning December 1, a staff of 26 employees – 12 full-time and 16 seasonal employees – began preparing for the upcoming snowmobile season by clearing deadfall and placing 44,000 temporary markers along 2,585 miles of snowmobile trails statewide along with maintaining them throughout the 4-month season. Those markers are then removed by April 15.

During the season, Wyoming Trails utilizes 29 Snowcats to groom eight major snowmobile systems encompassing 2,585 miles of trails. Grooming occurs overnight and involves a strategically choreographed schedule so trails are consistently and effectively maintained to provide the best user experience possible. All told, during the season 59,130 miles are groomed through private grooming contracts, while 33,000 miles are groomed utilizing internally owned equipment and seasonally hired operators. Those trails are 95 percent on Federal land involving mostly U.S. Forest Service and some Bureau of Land Management public lands. Although there is always a lot of work to be done, the program is dependent on the weather each year.

According to Wyoming Trails Program Manager Forrest Kamminga, there’s no such thing as too much snow, but being a 100% user funded program, a low snow season is the worst possible scenario

“If there’s a low snow season, we’re not generating enough revenue to cover the expenses,” he said.

And that doesn’t mean just for his program but also for Trailside Lodges and others involved in the snowmobile outdoor recreation industry.

The Summer season usually begins no later than mid-June depending on spring weather and involves maintaining the existing 840 miles of trail and the construction of new motorized trails. These trails heavily rely on federal land managing agency partnerships as 95% of the off-road vehicle (ORV) trails are on federal lands. On-the-ground work is completed by private contractors or by the 9 permanent trail crew members along with 16 seasonal employees. 

A true pay-to-play endeavor, The Wyoming Trails Program generates approximately $4 million annually which, along with additional federal partnership match majority of the revenue generated goes to funding the agency’s operations. These funds are closely managed by the program's admin and grants staff through several internal grant funding mechanisms made available to federal, state, and local government land managing agencies, along with nonprofits that assist with several tasks including trail maintenance, signage, education, enforcement, and public safety outreach.

Every snowmobile permit generates $62.75 ($34 permit sales, $28.75 state fuel tax) with an average of 34,500 permits sold seasonally; and every ORV permit sold generates $32.50 ($14 permit sales, $18.50 state fuel tax.) with an average of 58,200 permits sold annually. 

Like Wyoming’s State Park and Historic Sites, the state trail system is a major contributor to the state’s Tourism and Outdoor Recreation industries. Both motorized and non-motorized trail enthusiasts can agree these trails provide great recreational opportunities in the Cowboy State.

30 January 2024

Wyoming Outdoor Recreation Collaboratives to Meet in February

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January 30, 2024

The Wyoming Office of Outdoor Recreation facilitates eight outdoor recreation collaboratives convened throughout the state that bring together local community members, recreation stakeholders, businesses, conservation groups, federal and state agencies, and elected officials to identify and prioritize opportunities for the growth and enhancement of outdoor recreation.

 

Dates, times, and locations for upcoming meetings are as follows:

 

·  Natrona County Outdoor Recreation Collaborative (NCORC) - Mon., Feb. 5, 2024 5pm – 7pm. Location Platte River Trails At The Tate Pumphouse, 1775 W 1st St, Casper, WY 82604. Join virtually at meet.google.com/esp-vfwo-ycj or via phone (US) +1 513-818-1039 PIN: 556600600

·  Northeast Wyoming Outdoor Recreation Collaborative (NEWORC - Campbell, Crook, and Weston counties) - Tues., Feb. 6, 2024  5pm  7pm. Location Campbell County Public Library, 2101 S 4-J Rd, Gillette, WY 82718. Join virtually at meet.google.com/bgq-qbyc-eue or via phone (US) +1 650-597-3399 PIN: 937516560

·  Cloud Peak Outdoor Recreation Collaborative (CPORC - Johnson and Sheridan counties) - Wed., Feb. 7, 2024  5pm  7pm. Location Sheridan College Broadway Center, 243 Broadway St, Sheridan, WY 82801. Join virtually at meet.google.com/yvg-tbsm-drr or via phone ‪(US) +1 405-586-8089 PIN: ‪236 603 840#

·  Bighorn Basin Outdoor Recreation Collaborative (BBORC - Big Horn, Hot Springs and Washakie counties) - Mon., Feb. 12, 2024 5pm – 7pm. Location Big Horn Rural Electric Co, 415 South St, Basin, WY 82410. Join virtually at meet.google.com/gwm-fdbj-pxz or via phone (US) +1 651-571-1600 PIN: 841317886

·  Park County Outdoor Recreation Collaborative (PCORC) - Tues., Feb. 13, 2024 5pm – 7pm. Location Northwest College Center for Training and Development 1397 Fort Drum Drive, Powell, WY 82435. Join virtually at meet.google.com/xky-mnue-gur or via phone (US) +1 276-738-2661PIN: 582814986

 

Members of the public are welcome to attend collaborative meetings in-person or virtually when available. There will be a designated time for public comment near the end of each meeting.

Established by recommendation of the 2017 Governor’s Outdoor Recreation Task Force, the Office of Outdoor Recreation aims to diversify Wyoming’s economy by expanding, enhancing, and promoting responsible recreational opportunities through collaboration, outreach, and coordination with stakeholders, landowners, private industry, and public officials.

09 January 2024

Wyoming Outdoor Recreation Awards Additional ARPA Funding

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January 9, 2024

The Wyoming Office of Outdoor Recreation is pleased to announce two additional recipients of the Wyoming Outdoor Recreation ARPA Grant program accounting for an added $509,836 in allocated funding. To date, the grant program has awarded $2,612,359 for outdoor recreation projects across the state. 

Two additional Wyoming Outdoor Recreation ARPA Grant applications were approved in early January including $486,736 for the City of Cheyenne’s Belvoir Ranch Trailhead and $23,100 for the City of Kemmerer’s Youth Fishing Pond Rehabilitation. 

Made available through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds appropriated by the Wyoming Legislature and approved by Governor Mark Gordon, the Wyoming Outdoor Recreation ARPA Grant program was established to award funding to public outdoor recreation projects throughout the state. 

On November 1, the Wyoming Office of Outdoor Recreation announced the second round of the Wyoming Outdoor Recreation ARPA Grant program with an application deadline of January 26, 2024 at 5 pm.

Applicants are invited to join the Wyoming Office of Outdoor Recreation, the Wyoming State Budget Department, and CliftonLarsonAllen (CLA) LLP for an hour-long overview and Q&A on the Wyoming Outdoor Recreation ARPA Grant program on January 17th, 2024 at 10:00 am. 

Applicants are encouraged to come prepared with any questions relating to the project they are seeking funding for. Meeting details are as follows:

 

WY OREC Grant Program- Applicant Q&A

Wednesday, January 17 · 10:00 – 11:00 am MST

Google Meet Video call link: https://meet.google.com/szv-isjk-jwk

Or dial: ‪(US) +1 314-649-9112 PIN: ‪824 097 849#

 

The meeting will be recorded and posted on the Wyoming Outdoor Recreation website following the meeting.

For more information about awarded projects, the program and/or to apply for the 2023-2024 Wyoming Outdoor Recreation ARPA Grant program, please visit wyorec.info/grantprogram.

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