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Heated Boysen meeting on hold

Apr 22, 2012 - By Joshua Scheer, Staff Writer

The Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources has postponed a meeting that had been scheduled for this week to discuss Boysen State Park operations.

Department director Millward Simpson in a phone interview on Friday said the decision reached that day to reschedule the meeting resulted from concerns about reaching as many people to attend.

"We want to make sure we want to get the word out to all of the folks who are potentially interested in expressing their opinion," Simpson said. "We feel we would better serve that public if we would postpone it and work with the interested parties there to collaborate on getting the word out most effectively."

The meeting had been scheduled for 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 26, at the Shoshoni Fire Hall.

"We're going to try to do it within a couple of weeks of the meeting that was scheduled," Simpson said of the new date, which was not immediately determined. "It will probably be at the same venue. It will probably be a weekday, early evening."

The meeting is expected to involve hotly contested issues surrounding the operations of Boysen State Park.

A group of Boysen users contacted last week indicated plans to voice their problems with some of the park's management practices during the meeting.

The meeting is being held to "present how visitor use information is captured and rules and regulations for Boysen and other state parks will be discussed," states a press release from the state parks department. "Additionally, new developments at Boysen State Park will also be presented."

Ben Freedman believes the meeting is in response to efforts led by himself and Pam Peterson, both of Lander.

Freedman and Peterson's concerns begin with a visitor survey conducted in 2009. Freedman said the survey was handed out at random and "not sent out to regular users, annual permit holders."

"The construction or improvements, quote unquote, were not what most of the annual permit holders had in mind," he said.

The improvements in question are those in the Tough Creek camping area on the east side of the reservoir. The area is a peninsula, with campgrounds added over the last two years, including two group campsites on the western end.

"This looks like a KOA, cookie cutter campground," Freedman said.

Last summer, Peterson wrote a two-page letter to Gov. Matt Mead enumerating her concerns about the park, rules and improvements.

Over a two-week period, more than 100 Tough Creek users signed her letter.

She copied the letter to other state park officials and local legislators.

Correspondence has been made back and forth. Peterson received a personal letter on April 17 notifying her of the initial April 26 meeting, but she said none of the others who signed the petition were directly notified. Based on numbers presented by Freedman, the center of the peninsula is about 2 feet in elevation below the average water level.

"All of it floods," Peterson said.

In photographs, newer posts marking off the campsites can be seen half submerged. Freedman said the photos were taken last summer.

"Think of all that money, all those posts," Peterson said. "What a waste."

Freedman believes whoever designed the campground did not take the floodplain into account.

Peterson's heard claims that the park needs more day-use areas, but she and Freedman said those that are already available are never full.

The pair also would like to see the park relax some of the roughly 20 pages of rules and regulations, adding they have had issues with law enforcement.

"Instead of having law enforcement, we're having law harassment," Freedman said.

He recalled getting fined $120 last year for having two campers on one site even though the group sites were flooded.

Peterson said once when the weather was getting rough, a line of boats was waiting to use the single ramp at Tough Creek. She said a park ranger, instead of helping speed up the line, was writing tickets for people whose dogs were off leash.

-- Staff writer Martin Reed contributed to this report.

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