Tuesday, January 23, 2001
Steamboat Springs If improvements to the Yampa River slated to go ahead this spring don't develop to their liking, some tubing company owners say they may not be able to operate this summer.
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, including Backdoor Sports, Lockhart's River Ranch and Rock and Roll Enterprises.
"If there's the least bit of doubt that I'll be able to pull of a decent season, I may just take a one-year leave of absence," said Peter Van De Carr, the owner of Backdoor Sports and part-owner of Rock and Roll Enterprises, both of which offer tubing.
Van De Carr said the overhead associated with running a tubing operation costs him between $20,000 and $30,000 per season, because he has to rent land and vehicles, pay insurance costs and buy tubes. That money may not be recouped by selling what some owners believe is an inferior ride down a restricted river.
"What they're basically doing is putting us out of business," said Brenda Burbach, the manager of Lockhart's River Ranch.
Burbach said that because Lockhart's owns land that it pays property taxes on upstream from where the city is allowing commercial tubers, it will be losing the money it has spent on that land. She said she has not yet decided what the company will do this summer but has considered stopping business.
The city's efforts to resolve a dispute between tubing companies and a group of fly fishers and ensure the health of the Yampa River revolve around the set of river improvements and a river management plan that are almost set to begin.
Director of Parks and Recreation Chris Wilson said Tuesday he has just sent out a request for proposals from consultants interested in conducting a series of tests on the Yampa River, the scope of which will be decided on by the city and the user groups.
The other half of the project, comprised of river modifications to the area between 13th Street and the Stockbridge Multi-Modal Center, will likely begin by the beginning of March, Wilson said. A company called Basin Hydrology has already drawn up conceptual plans for the modifications, which would involve moving boulders and changing the river's flow and depth at certain points, Wilson said.
Wilson said the proposed modifications, which were developed in meetings with the various user groups, should be finished in time for the tubing and kayaking season.
"We want to get as much of the structural work done prior to the spring melt so that we're not in there when the higher river flow begins," Wilson said.
The fly fishers, said Yampa Valley Fly Fishers President Jim Curd, are happy to see that process begin.
"We hope most of the politics get out of the way and we get back to our charter, which states that we should do river projects and improvements," Curd said.