Fire ban leads to drop in park visitors

Aug 1, 2012

Wyoming’s state parks are getting fewer visitors than usual, and park officials say it’s probably because of the ban on campfires.

State Parks Chief of Operations Bill Westerfield says the decline in visitors will mean less money will be available for future improvements at parks and historic sites.

“The user fees – camping and day use fees – go into an enterprise account, and we use that money to build new facilities and to conduct major maintenance on the facilities we have,” Westerfield said.

Despite the decrease in visitors to state parks, the Diane Shober with the Wyoming Office of Tourism says over-all tourism is still strong this year. And she says a decline in camping shouldn’t make a big difference for the state, financially.

“Out of overnight stays, the largest segment is within hotels,” Shober said. “And so … it shouldn’t have as much of an impact as if hotel occupancy were running lower.”

Shober adds that it’s still early in the summer, so tourism numbers could go either way at this point.