Council deciding river access

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— The Yampa River is about to be cut into two unequal halves, some members of the commercial tubing industry say.

Despite opposition from tubing companies, City Council will vote tonight on restricting seasonal use permits and closing off land access that would push tubing companies down below 13th Street for the upcoming summer.

City Council will be deciding on whether to ban tubing companies from certain parcels of public property for the upcoming season and offer them use permits only for sections of the river that do not run across that land. Those moves go along with the city's intention to spend one summer testing the river and attempting to see if tubing on the lower Yampa is a viable option for the companies and the city.

More importantly, the city will determine, through a River Management Plan, if that option is in the best interests of the river. The city recently sent out a request for proposals from a consulting firm interested in helping it undertake that River Management Plan.

By banning the companies from certain swaths of city land and the river corridor that runs through that land, the city can make sure the companies stay out of the water above 13th Street.

"We will only issue permits where the operator complies with the relevant land uses," said Assistant City Attorney Dan Foote.

The city decided in November to push tubing companies downstream below 13th Street to test the health of the river and the effects of multiple-use.

Although the city is planning to modify the Yampa below 13th Street to allow for better use of the area, its efforts may prove too little too late for some companies, which are unsure whether they will operate this summer.

Non-commercial tubing, however, will remain unrestricted, although Parks and Recreation Director Chris Wilson has vowed to better enforce existing regulations on the river. Those regulations restrict the use of glass containers and alcohol on the river, as well as forcing pet owners to use leashes. Each of these regulations was already in place as of this summer but have not been enforced to a sufficient degree, Wilson said.

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