Natrona County Will Offer Permits For Landowners Renting Camp Spaces For Eclipse
Natrona County will offer permits for landowners in the unincorporated areas of the county who plan to host campers visiting central Wyoming for the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21.
"We're going to look at health, life and safety," Jason Gutierrez, the county's Development Director said Tuesday.
"We're going to look at getting folks in and out of there safely, separations between sanitary facilities, those types of items," Gutierrez said after presenting a draft of the permit to the Natrona County commissioners during a work session.
There's no charge for the permit, which is limited to the week before and the week after the eclipse.
Landowners can obtain it at the development office in the Old Courthouse, 200 N. Center St., Gutierrez said.
Central Wyoming is anticipating anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 visitors during the week leading to, and the day of, the eclipse. Statewide estimates have started at 350,000.
Events accompanying the eclipse include tours, the national science conference Astrocon, concerts, recreational opportunities and other features found in central Wyoming.
However, the crowds pose potential logistical nightmares including traffic, sanitation, food, water, fire, health problems with people coming from sea level to mile-high elevations, and people who have never been to Casper, Wyoming or even the United States.
Hotel rooms are booked. Local homeowners are renting out their houses.
And many want to camp, which poses its own set of problems.
For example, if someone has a medical emergency, an ambulance will need to know what space that tent or camper is located instead of a vague "somewhere to the left of the white Winnebago." That ambulance also will need room between campers to get to the person in need.
The permit also will have a fire ban. Other than cook stoves, no open flames such as camp fires will be permitted.
Many landowners were relieved to hear about the fire ban, County Development Planner Trish Chavis said.
So far, 75 to 100 landowners have expressed their interest in obtaining a permit, Chavis said.
Some will have five camp spaces, while others are planning for as many as 250 spaces. Those numbers represent camping spaces, so one space may be for one person or an entire family, she said.
Landowners don't need permits to host campers, Gutierrez said.
But he would like them to obtain permits and talk to him about the life, health and safety issues.
"This is really for the protection of the landowner and the occupants that are coming in, so we very much want to get the word out there's a free permit to work through this process," Gutierrez said.