CASPER, Wyo. — Before the 2012 Sheep Herder Hill Fire ravaged Ponderosa Park on the east end of Casper Mountain, recreationists of various types frequented the shelter and outhouse there.
A volunteer effort spearheaded by Natrona County Parks Board member Dave North has now cleaned up the rubble from the shelter and repaired the outhouse.
“Last year up on the mountain there was an old cabin that had burned down [in the Sheep Herder Fire],” North said on Wednesday, Sept. 18. “We got it cleaned up in a few days.”
Article continues below...
“The shelter at Ponderosa had been the same way after the fire.”
Last September, North and other volunteers cleaned up the area and cement pad where the shelter had stood. They also removed the doors from the outhouses.
He adds that the effort was done both for safety and to make the area look a little nicer.
The Natrona County Commissioners appointed North to the NC Parks Board in March.
After that, the Parks Board organized a sub-committee to oversee the rehabilitation of Ponderosa Park.
Rebecca Thorne was a member of that committee and says that other members included North, former Parks Director Matt Buhler, County Commissioner Brook Kaufman, Parks Board member James Miller, and citizens Dave Martin and Dena Richardson.
They arranged to repaint the outhouse, which had been sprayed with graffiti, add new doors and rebuild the roof.
“We decided to paint outhouse because it had been vandalized and thought painting would be easier then scrubbing,” Thorne says.
Thorne, Martin and Karen Santistevan repainted the outhouse.
North, Martin, Richardson, Brion Peterson, Tracy Lamont and Doug Irvine rebuilt the roof.
Volunteer groups worked on the project on three separate days over the summer.
Along with leading the roof rebuild, North also drew conceptual designs for a new shelter, which will eventually be built on the old cement pad.
“I’ve got a pretty extensive background in construction,” he says.
Since he’s not an engineer, the county needs to have an engineer take a look at the signs and give funding approval to allow the shelter project formally approved.
North says the county commissioners signaled support to allow the shelter rebuild to move forward on Tuesday.
“As soon as we get the permit, yeah, we can start moving forward,” he said.
If the project gets approved in time, the shelter rebuild could potentially happen this fall, but North says there is no guarantee of that.
“This time of year, a lot depends on the weather,” he says.
While the county used insurance money collected after the Sheep Herder Fire to pay for the doors, toilets and roof supplies, many of the materials were donated.
“Solar lighting was donated by Phil and Karen Santistevan and Greg Prestone,” Thorne said. “Paint was donated by Sherwin Williams.”
Various citizens thanked North for leading the outhouse rebuild at a Parks Board meeting last Thursday. He says it was a group effort.
“It’s not a one person deal,” North said. “Without volunteers, it wouldn’t have gotten done.”
He adds that it was encouraging to see people step up to get the park cleaned up and the outhouses in good shape: “You do things because you want them to be better.”
The outhouses and shelter won’t go unused, despite the fact that Ponderosa Park may be difficult for some to access.
“There’s actually a lot of people that go back there,” North says.
Outdoor enthusiasts including hunters, mountain bikers, hikers, snowmobilers, skiiers and more have all used the shelter in the past.
“Just all kinds of stuff,” North says.