Change on the horizon

Yampa River's abundant water won't be overlooked for long

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The rules have changed.

The increasing demand for water brought on by the booming population of Colorado and other Western states has forced new strategies for water management, and the Yampa River figures to play an important role.

From its beginnings in the Flat Tops Wilderness, the Yampa twists and turns through Northwest Colorado before merging with the Green River in Dinosaur National Monument.

The 250-mile river and its tributaries provide drinking water, irrigate hay meadows and pasture lands, fuel world-class recreation and are the lifesource for a diverse ecosystem of plants and animals.

But the Yampa's importance stretches beyond the boundaries of Northwest Colorado. As the state's last under-appropriated major river system, the Yampa increasingly is becoming the focus of water planners and thirsty communities along the Front Range and elsewhere.

During the next six weeks, the Steamboat Pilot & Today will examine the Yampa -- past, present and future -- and its significance locally and beyond.

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