Yampa River will have no new tubing regulations

Recreation Commission unanimously supports increase in education

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For more information about Yampa River use or to volunteer to educate recreational users about river regulations and etiquette, call the city's Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department at 879-4300.

— There will be a concerted effort to write more tickets for littering, parking illegally and having open alcohol containers on the Yampa River, but the city's response to concerns about tubing will be mostly educational and volunteer-based this summer.

The Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Commission unanimously supported a collection of suggestions Wednesday - none of which included new regulations - to address these and other concerns. Some anglers in the audience were disappointed that a more hard-line approach wasn't being considered to segregate uses on the river, similar to the way motorized and non-motorized activities are segregated on Rabbit Ears Pass.

At their meeting Monday, members of the Yampa Valley Fly Fishers unanimously adopted a position statement expressing support for the Yampa River Management Plan, concern that the city has not followed through on the plan's recommendation and their belief that "indicators already exist to limit or prohibit tubing" above the Fifth Street Bridge. The Colorado Division of Wildlife suggested a similar prohibition at a commission meeting in February.

"If the citizens of Steamboat really respect the environment of the Yampa River, they'll do that," said Larry Freet, who said restricting tubing above the Fifth Street Bridge would make the upper stretch of the river more tranquil and be a boon to downtown businesses. "It's a no-brainer to me."

While some commissioners agreed the city has done a poor job following through on the river management plan, they said they were unwilling to try regulation first.

"My personal feeling is that the education effort needs to happen first," Chairman Curtis Church said.

Many also noted that there is no reliable data by which to gauge the problem. Scott Ford is heading up an effort to do counts and conduct surveys on river use this summer, to replace anecdotal observations that river use and conflicts are increasing.

"The difficulty is five years have passed with no baseline data," said Ford, referring to the 2004 adoption of the river management plan.

The city has committed to step up efforts to discourage tubing above Fetcher Park, as called for in the management plan. The city also has committed to more strictly enforce existing laws and may deputize some employees so they can write parking tickets.

The city intends to rely heavily on volunteers to educate river users at access points about rules, regulations and etiquette on the river. Many said Wednesday that it was foolhardy to expect enough volunteers to come forward to make a difference.

"I think effective law enforcement is necessary," said Michael Turner, who said appropriately priced fines would cover the cost of increased enforcement and truly discourage illegal behavior.

Chris Wilson, city director of Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services, said additional regulations are still a possibility in the future.

"You may believe it won't work," Wilson said, "but let's give it a try."

For more information or to volunteer, call the city's Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department at 879-4300.

Comments

localboy17 5 years, 4 months ago

What a bunch of idiots. The people on city council obviously do not use, nor do they appreciate the river. The river looked absolutely terrible this summer. Beer cans, bottles, plastic bottles, a washing machine, and an immense amount of trash floated through ever eddy. How is that for data! Immediate regulations need to be placed on the river with stricter consequences. Isn't littering a $1000 fine? Asking locals that use and appreciate the river yet have no authority to tell tubers to pick up trash isn't going to do anything. That is a ridiculous idea. Telling someone to be respectful and pick it up isn't productive. All of you on city council are ruining the best resource this town has because you don't want to step on any toes of the businesses and tourists that promote this trash. Grow a pair.

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Scott Ford 5 years, 4 months ago

The growth of "commercial" tubing in the upper sections of the Yampa River was one of the key reasons the Yampa River Management Plan (YRMP) was developed in 2002/2003 and adopted by City Council in 2004. The river was divided into 5 segments. Each segment clearly defined what type of use was most compatible for each of the segments. Commercial tubing was to occur below 5th Street because that was a compatible use for that section of the river. The upper sections of the river were to remain more natural and provide opportunities for solitude to watch wildlife and fly fish.

Changes in river uses could take place "IF" data indicated that a change was necessary. The YRMP clearly outlines the methodology of how data was to be collected and who was responsible for the collection. The City of Steamboat Springs specifically Parks and Recreation agreed to be the responsible party. For the past five years and for a host of reasons the City didn't do the monitoring in the upper sections of the Yampa River they agreed to.

It was anticipated that tubing might occur in the upper sections of the river occasionally and it was to be discouraged. What is taking place now is that private tubing in the upper sections is anything but occasional. Private tubing on the upper section of the river has grown to and perhaps beyond what was occurring when commercial tubing was permitted.

Not having any data about the growth of private tubing in the upper sections of the river is a disappointment. All that anybody can say is that it seems like more and the term "more" is in the eye of the beholder.

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