Issues: Watersheds, Wildlife
Partners: American Rivers, Friends of the Yampa, Steamboat Pilot & Today, Town of Hayden, Colorado
Airport Origin : Steamboat Springs, CO
With increased recreation and a shorter river rafting season, managing the Yampa is challenging. We flew with conservation partners, local public-officials, and members of the media over the Yampa River to examine river access points and advocate for the protection of this river from new dams or diversions.
Only a very small percentage of the Yampa River's water gets diverted or stored in reservoirs, making it the wildest river in the Colorado River system. Even with those small diversions, the Yampa River retains its natural character and flows much the same as it did before humans arrived. The river annually floods its banks, scours its cobble, and creates critical habitat for threatened species. The floods maintain the endangered riparian habitats and species that still eke out an existence in this modern world.
Climate change threatens these species, as well as the Yampa's beloved recreation. There are few access points along the river and rafting permits are limited. Due to drought, the river-floating season has become shorter, making permits even more competitive. The Town of Hayden is working to improve river access while maintaining the Yampa's ecological integrity. Proposals for new dams or diversions also threaten the Yampa and its' healthy, intact ecosystem. Our partners are working to protect the wild river and the existing uses for municipal, agricultural, recreational, and wildlife values.