Wyoming State Parks

Wyoming became the 44th state on July 10th, 1890. This year marks its 125th anniversary of statehood, and Wyomingites couldn’t let that go by without a little party. Milward Simpson is the Director of the Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources. He joins Wyoming Public Radio's Caroline Ballard to talk about the celebrations that will mark the 125th anniversary of Wyoming statehood, and to reflect on the state's legacy.

Scott Clem

A bill that would allow State Parks to use a portion of permit sales for general operations and maintenance is being debated by the Wyoming House of Representatives. The bill limits the amount that can be spent on these projects to 25% from the budget where permit fees are collected. Gillette Republican Scott Clem says the Division of State Parks and Cultural Resources needs budget flexibility.

Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites & Trails

Wyoming’s Joint Travel, Recreation, Wildlife, and Cultural Resources committee recently voted to sponsor a bill that would transform a former missile alert facility near Cheyenne into a museum and historical site. The bill would provide one-time funding to establish the site’s exhibits, equipment, and other needs, as well as allocate yearly operational funds.

State Parks Director Milward Simpson says while the bill sponsorship is a step forward, it may still be a long road to a functional attraction.

Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites & Trails

A bill proposed in the Wyoming House of Representatives would redirect funds received from state park permits into a special revenue account. The purpose of the account would be to move a quarter of the funds back into general maintenance of Wyoming State Parks. This would give the state’s parks more control over how that money is spent. Right now roughly $500,000 goes into the general fund for construction projects.

Domenic Bravo is the State Parks administrator and says choosing maintenance over new construction projects can be a challenging ordeal.

Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites & Trails

The Wyoming Senate has given initial support to a bill that would allow State Parks to use entrance fees on things besides major building projects.  But not everyone loves the idea. 

Senate Majority Floor Leader Phil Nicholas of Laramie said it was difficult to raise park fees to pay for important capital construction and major maintenance  projects and argued that it would be wrong to use the money for another purpose.

State parks are seeking legislative approval to use fees for general operations and maintenance. Parks generate about two million dollars per year, but right now that money can only be used for capital construction and interpretation.

Director of State Parks and Cultural Resources, Milward Simpson, says funding for his agency is like a three-legged stool that’s getting wobbly.

Like a lot of state agencies, Wyoming State Parks and Historic Sites will likely need to find a way to make up revenues lost from proposed budget cuts.  Administrator Dominic Bravo says they are leery about raising fees, but are looking at some other options. "We’re going to try to figure out through partnerships, try to find alternative funding, of course corporate relationships, anything we can to make sure we are doing our best job to serve our customers and visitors.  Whatever we can to still meet our mission.   It’s not easy." Bravo says they’ve been able to generate more revenue for S

This is the 75th year of State Parks in Wyoming.   Dominic Bravo oversees State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails.   He tells Bob Beck that state parks have an interesting history.