City, county partner on plan

Goal is $10.75M grant to protect Yampa River landscape

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Routt County will join the city as a co-applicant requesting a $10.75 million grant to help protect the Yampa River landscape in the Steamboat Springs area.

The city sent a concept paper about the Yampa River Landscape Project to Great Outdoors Colorado last week, and the county plans to join the project this week. The county did not sign on last week because county commissioners wanted more information, which they received Tuesday.

The proposed project would help preserve land along the Yampa River, from the Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Area to the south to west past Steamboat II, said Linda Kakela, Steamboat Springs director of intergovernmental services. It would build from the Yampa River Legacy Project.

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

County commissioners discussed the project Tuesday with Kakela and Ben Beall, chairman of the Emerald Mountain Partnership and part of the Yampa River Legacy Project Committee.

Making the county a co-applicant was important to the project's chance of receiving funding, Beall said.

"We're trying to satisfy a lot of things here, and Routt County is a big part of it," Beall said. "We have a real opportunity on that stretch of the river."

Commissioners asked several questions, such as whether being a partner in the project would mean the county had to contribute financially to the $2.75 million cash match the grant application proposes. Kakela said the county's financial participation could be limited to help from its Purchase of Development Rights program for appropriate parcels.

Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said she wanted to make sure the project was not connected 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.

Kakela and Beall said it was not, and that any conservation easements on Emerald Mountain would be apart from land involved in the swap.

Commissioners also discussed efforts to combine the Yampa River Landscape Project with several other proposals that county groups are submitting. Stahoviak said she was disappointed there was not enough time to coordinate a larger, overall project. Beall said that there might be a chance for such steps in the future.

The proposed project would help acquire or put conservation easements on parcels along the Yampa River in the urban corridor area, and upland in the West Steamboat area.

-- To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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