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Tubing concerns floated in Steamboat

Issues with tubes arise; volunteers gathering for river cleanup today

Tubers float down the Yampa River in July of last year. This year high water has delayed the start of the tubing season.

— It wouldn't be summer in Steamboat Springs without a little tubing controversy.

But the latest issues don't involve floaters on the Yampa River — rather, they involve the source and location of that flotation. Craig Robinson, of the city's Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Dep­artment, and longtime river-use advocate Pete Van De Carr, of Backdoor Sports, said last week that some local businesses recently have sold and bought back inflatable tubes, a practice prohibited in the Yampa River Management Plan. Further, the two said, some local property management companies have been encouraging clients to enter the river at, or upstream of, Fetcher Park. Floating upstream of Fetcher Park is discouraged in the Respect the Yampa campaign, a locally engineered effort to guide sustainable river use.

"There have been some concerns recently about some actions that may or may not be within the parameters of the Yampa River Management Plan," Robinson said last week. "We may have had some people who were selling tubes and buying them back. … Some of the property management companies, we're hoping to educate them on the Respect the Yampa campaign."

"There are quite a few property management companies … doing their best to woo clients and putting folks in at Fetcher Park," Van De Carr added.

Robinson said he's conducting research with the city's legal staff and Planning and Community Development Department about municipal code enforcement related to tube sales. Van De Carr said raising awareness is crucial.

"I don't blame any of the businesses for doing what they did," said Van De Carr, a leader of the Respect the Yampa campaign. "It's my job, along with the planning department and the Parks and Rec Department, to make sure everybody knows why the Yampa River Management Plan was put into place."

The Steamboat Springs City Council adopted the management plan in 2004 to establish sustainable objectives for all river users and to protect the Yampa's natural environment.

Van De Carr said efforts to encourage appropriate river use are "always ongoing."

Volunteers have a chance this morning to improve the river's health.

River enthusiasts will gather at 9 a.m. today at Backdoor Sports for cleanup and trash removal efforts that will last until noon. Store staff will ferry volunteers to different stretches of river. Trash bags are provided by the city of Steamboat Springs. Soda Creek Pizza Co. is kicking in the pies for lunch, and the event also includes a raffle.

Van De Carr said people should take shoes that can get soaking wet, gloves and a water bottle.

"We'll provide (river shoes), if they want to borrow them from us," he said.

Another cleanup day is planned for early September, he said.

Van De Carr said the summer's mix of weather patterns has created a good tubing season. The Yampa was flowing at 25 percent above average for July 23 on Friday.

"It's been awesome. Look at the valley, it's as green as I've ever seen it," he said. "To me, it's about as perfect a summer as I could ever imagine."

Tom Ross contributed to this story.