CASPER — Glendo State Park probably will experience flooding for the second consecutive year, but park officials say they’ll still be able to accommodate all campers who visit the popular eastern Wyoming reservoir.
The park plans to convert day-use areas into additional camping spots if flood waters submerge low-lying sites. Park officials are also working with local businesses to provide camping space, Wyoming State Parks and Cultural Resources Director Milward Simpson said Monday.
Flooding might affect the availability of some parking spots and camp sites. But Simpson doesn’t expect significant problems.
“We are going to do everything we can to make sure (visitors) have their usual great time at this great park,” he said.
Late-season storms led to extensive flooding at Glendo Reservoir last year. The waters submerged campsites and swamped restrooms and picnic areas. It also kept visitors away, reflected by a 50 percent drop in user fees.
“Last year, I think it was fair to say the state, in general, was pretty much taken off-guard by the level of flooding that occurred,” Simpson said. “It was kind of a perfect storm of circumstances.”
Early projections by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation indicate the park will experience more flooding this year because of, in part, an above-average snow pack. The waters are expected to crest four feet below last year’s flooding, though officials stressed early projections could change as the summer approaches.
With the advanced warning, park officials have begun making preparations.
The state has already relocated 160 people with reservations for camping sites that could be affected by flooding.
Officials have also stopped taking camping reservations. Instead, visitors will be asked to contact Wyoming State Parks before traveling to the reservoir and then secure a camping spot once they arrive.
Ahead of the expected flooding, park staff has taken elevation measurements of various campsites, picnic shelters and restrooms to help officials determine when infrastructure should be moved out of harm’s way. State park officials are also planning a public relations effort to keep visitors informed about conditions at Glendo.
“One of the things we learned last year is circumstances can quickly change on the ground and you need to be able to communicate quickly with the public,” Simpson said.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s decision to increase its early season releases out of Glendo Reservoir should also help limit the impact of the flooding, officials said.
The state spent about $1 million repairing damage from last year’s floods. Simpson said it’s possible that some of the repaired areas could be damaged again if more flooding occurs, but added that operating a reservoir as a recreation spot requires facilities close to the water.