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Natrona County Commission Approves Mountain Recreation Study

Tom Morton, Townsquare Media

You hike, camp, ski nordically, picnic and otherwise hang out on Casper Mountain.

The Natrona County Parks Department knows you want to do more and do it better.

So the county commission last week approved up to $59,200 to hire consultants to collect ideas for recreation, repair and construction` from mountain users, property owners, volunteers, and government agencies, says parks department director Dick O’Hearn.

“I think the mountain has been long neglected, and all the maintenance and repairs up there are long-deferred,” O’Hearn says. “I think it’s high time to focus our attention up there and to get a worthy master plan.”

The Parks Department will use the Casper office of the Bismarck, N.D.-based KLJ Engineering, and half the $52,900 allocation will be assigned to three other subsidiary consultants, he says. Those consulting groups will be holding at least three public meetings during the coming months to gather suggestions.

The idea for the resource management plan, O’Hearn says, comes on the heels of the recent multi-year, multi-government agency review of the three U.S. Bureau of Reclamation reservoirs in Natrona county: Pathfinder, Alcova and Gray Reef.

The county owns and operates Beartrap Meadow, biking and Nordic trails, campgrounds, playgrounds, buildings and utilities on the mountain.

Fortunately, Casper Mountain has fewer affected property owners and a smaller area to work with compared to the reservoirs, O’Hearn says.

But some of the issues are similar, such as improving campgrounds to accommodate those with recreational vehicles as well as those who want to rough it, he says.

The mountain, like the reservoirs, have become victims of their own success as more people want to enjoy the outdoors, O’Hearn says. “People are getting up and experiencing our parks, but we just have to stay ahead of the game and try¬† to provide a place for all the disparate users.”

The county’s contract with KLJ expects that firm and other consultants to complete its work by Sept. 15.

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