City gives river project a go

County wants more information on Yampa River corridor plan

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The city will submit a conceptual plan for a grant for a $10.75-million project to help protect the Yampa River corridor in Steamboat Springs and part of Emerald Mountain on its own, as county commissioners decided Tuesday they needed more details before approving the concept for the project.

County commissioners could decide to become a co-applicant for the Great Outdoors Colorado grant in the next few weeks or months.

The project would help preserve land along the Yampa River, in a general area starting south at the Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Area, and going west past Steamboat II, said Linda Kakela, Steamboat Springs director of intergovernmental services. It would build off the Yampa River Legacy Project.

County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said she was concerned especially about possible connections the project could have to the Emerald Mountain land swap, in which the Bureau of Land Management is trading some of its smaller parcels in the county for part of Emerald Mountain owned by the State Land Board to keep Emerald Mountain free of development.

"We as commissioners have been inundated with concerns about how that BLM land acquisition is going," Stahoviak said. She said she would not be willing to agree to any project that could in any way be a part of or assist the land swap.

Commissioner Doug Monger said he supported the project's plan to conserve land but had concerns that designating some lands for recreational areas could "open up a whole new world."

County commissioners decided to discuss the project again next week.

The City Council quickly and unanimously approved sending a concept paper to GOCo at its Tuesday night meeting.

GOCo will consider concept papers from across the state and then typically invites some groups to apply for the grant monies.

"The Yampa River is defined as a natural resource of national significance," Kakela said.

About $6 million from the grant would be used to acquire small parcels along the Yampa River in the urban corridor area, which would allow for public access to recreation and education opportunities, Kakela told the City Council.

About $2 million would help conserve about 800 to 1,000 acres of the Emerald Mountain landscape apart from the possible land swap, she said.

The remaining $2.75 million would help secure upland parcels in the West of Steamboat Area to meet recreational needs and protect important parcels as population grows.

Of the funds, $8 million would come from GOCo and the remainder would come from cash matches from various sources. The deadline for the concept paper is today.

-- To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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