Reviving Rivers and Renewing Habitat in Central Wyoming

Platte River Trails Trust offers year-round TLC to ‘crown jewel’ North Platte River and associated pathways
May 28, 2024 11:20 AM ET
North Platte River
TOP PHOTO: The North Platte River as it winds its way through Casper, WY.

The project started from humble beginnings—a group of concerned citizens coming together to breathe life back into a river that was showing signs of urbanization.

From there, the project took on a life of its own.

“The group had a vision beyond just river restoration,” says Rachel Spear, executive director of Platte River Trails. “They created a master plan around building pathways to better connect the community, and have been working to bring this to fruition since.”

The river pathway represents an 11-mile stretch of the North Platte River that courses through Casper, WY as the “spine” of the community’s trail system. With cooperation from the City of Casper, the City of Mills, and private donors, Platte River Trails Trust works to preserve the river corridor and enhance local pedestrian pathways to make non-motorized transportation accessible to people of all ages.

“It’s sort of the jewel of our community.”

Efforts are ongoing throughout the year to build new infrastructure and maintain existing trails, but Platte River Trails also hosts annual hallmark events for community participation and celebration.

PRTT’s Spring Cleanup Day is a city-wide event which sees more than 100 individuals partake in garbage pick-up and vegetation management to beautify the trails before summer. In 2023, the city estimated that nearly half a ton of garbage was recovered from the cleanup day.

And Riverfest, held in late summer, attracts between 1,500 to 2,500 people each year to enjoy community-building activities next to the river trail. The decades-old fundraising event offers a signature beer-tasting event complete with local craft brewers from Wyoming and neighboring states.

“Many people feel a real sense of ownership for the river,” says Spear. “Both of these events, plus our always-on activities throughout the year, provide numerous opportunities to partner and help take care of it.”

A recent Enbridge Fueling Futures grant of $5,000 to the Platte River Trails Trust sponsored the 2023 editions of the Platte River Cleanup Day and Riverfest. It also funded the installation of a pair of mile markers placed along the trail system to denote distance.

“These markers, while also nice to look at, are more of a way to recognize our partners who support the trails financially,” says Spear. “We frequently get large grants to build trails, but few people are as interested in maintenance to help take care of them.”

With more than 40 years of success behind them in trail-building and maintaining, Platte River Trails Trust ensures that the Casper community can look forward to a future of accessibility and preserved natural beauty.

“We want to be good custodians of what’s already developed, and preserve our beautiful river for future generations to enjoy.”