Landowners outside city and town limits who want to host campers during the total solar eclipse Aug. 21 will need to obtain a permit from the Natrona County development office, its director said Tuesday.

"Tonight, the commissioners approved the eclipse permit," Jason Gutierrez said after the Natrona County Commission meeting.

The approval came after Gutierrez made the request to commissioners two weeks ago.

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.

"The whole point of this is to try to protect the landowners and evaluate health, life and safety items so if somebody is having a medical emergency or whatnot, emergency services has a much better chance of getting in there and providing assistance," Gutierrez said.

The permits are mandatory for people who want to set up campsites for the eclipse, he said.

Gutierrez did not say what, if any, penalties there would be for a landowner who hosts campers for the eclipse and does not obtain a permit.

But it's in their and the campers' best interests, he said.

"So it's really there to benefit the landowners," he said. "It's not meant to be a burden to landowners."

The permit is free.

People who want to set up a campground for the event can obtain the permits at the Natrona County Planning Office or find them online at its website.

So far, about 50 people have asked his department for permits, Gutierrez said.

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