By Jennifer Kocher, Special to Cowboy State Daily From County 17
Jordan Webb is happy with Governor Mark Gordon’s announcement last week allowing Wyoming residents to camp in state parks as of May 15.
That’s great news, she said. The trouble for the Moorcroft resident, however, is the added directive requiring residents to make a reservation in advance of procuring a camping spot, cabins at Keyhole and Boysen State Parks, yurt reservations at Glendo, Guernsey and Sinks Canyon State Parks or any other reservation at Wyoming state parks.
Typically, state park camping sites are garnered on a first-come, first-serve basis with no need to make a reservation. At $7.75 per reservation, those fees can add up, Webb noted, especially on top of day-use or over-night camping fees, particularly for families like hers who do a lot of camping.
There’s also a $2.50 fee for cancellations or other changes. For this reason, Webb has launched a petition to Governor Gordon asking him to drop the reservation fee.
“Now to camp at any state park you must make a reservation first and pay a reservation fee on top of the park fee,” Webb writes in the petition. “There is no more getting off early on a Friday and buzzing out to the lake anymore. We should not have to pay more and ask before we are allowed to camp.”
She’s asking other Wyomingites to sign to show the Governor that the people he works for are not pleased with this new decision, she added.
“Let’s take back one of our freedoms of being able to do something as simple as camp without asking permission,” the petition states. “If this law stays in place it will make it harder for families and friends to get together and enjoy the easy life that is camping. We need to stick together and demand that things go back to the way they were.
“We don’t need to check in to make sure it’s okay that we got out and enjoy the outdoors,” Webb added. “The state parks belong to us so let’s take them back!”
It’s a message that seems to be resonating with many around the county and state. As of Tuesday afternoon, just under 13,000 people had signed with new signatures ticking up every few minutes, well past her goal of 5,000-signatures.
Gary Schoene, public Information Officer for the Wyoming State Parks & Cultural Resources, understands that residents are upset.
The fee pays for a third-party, reservation management service to ensure overnight sites are being booked by Wyoming residents, per the Governor’s public health orders forbidding out-of-state visitors from camping in state parks.
“I understand people’s frustration,” Schoene said, “but this is the plan we’re currently working under, and we are trying to do the best under a difficult situation.”
The fee goes entirely to paying for the reservation service, he noted, and they’re not making any money from the additional charges.
Meanwhile, Webb and others are asking the Governor to reconsider this directive.
“I understand the world is crazy right now,” Webb wrote in a message to County 17, “but the Governor has gone too far, and many people are angry, so I want our voices to be heard. We own those parks, and the Governor works for us, and I hope this petition is a good reminder of that.”