Photo by John F. Russell
Matt Gaylor was hoping to land a good-sized trout Friday while fishing in the cool waters of the Yampa River in downtown Steamboat Springs. Friends of the Yampa, an advocacy group based on a love of the river, recently elected a new board, which is dedicated to protecting and improving the river that runs through Steamboat Springs.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Steamboat Springs River advocacy group Friends of the Yampa jumped in with both feet Thursday and formally declared its plans to establish itself as a nonprofit organization under Colorado law.
“It’s a step we’ve been talking about for years,” Friends Vice President Eugene Buchanan said. “We been loosely organized for the last umpteen years, and we think this step will force us to take a more concrete approach to protecting the river.”
Former City Council President Ken Brenner is the new president of the board of the river group. Peter Van De Carr, the brains and energy behind the Respect the Yampa campaign, is secretary, and local CPA Greg Henion is treasurer.
“We’ve been trying to figure out who would not want to be a member of Friends of the Yampa and support our recreational economy,” Brenner said.
Brenner said that when the kayak play hole known as Charlie’s Hole washed out late in the spring runoff, repairs became of significance not just for the most apparent reasons. The C-Hole is also the manifestation of putting water to use under the city’s water right known as a Recreational In-Channel Diversion, he said.
“Charlie’s Hole represents our efforts to control, capture and divert the river and put to use our water right,” Brenner said. “It’s the feature that meets the constitutional requirements for our water right.”
The city is poised to undertake repairs to the water feature in late fall.
Brenner said the city’s Yampa River Structural Master Plan, adopted in 2008, gives Friends a blueprint for river rehabilitation projects. The plan, created with the help of Ecological Resource Consultants, identified patterns of use and areas along the six-mile town stretch of the river that needed work. It also assessed existing human-made enhancements to the current that are out of date in their design.
Craig Robinson, open space supervisor for the city’s Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department, said in March 2008 that the plan is not meant to deal with conflicts among different forms of human recreation. Instead, its purpose is to improve the health of the river and human enjoyment of recreation on the river.
Buchanan said the mission statement of Friends of the Yampa calls on it to “protect and enhance the environmental and recreational integrity of the Yampa River, its basin and tributaries through stewardship, advocacy and education.”
Steamboat’s Kent Vertrees, who is committed to statewide water groups, agreed to serve on a communications subcommittee of Friends.
Vertrees said Friends is not bent on turning the river into a series of kayak play holes and features.
“We want to keep the river as natural as possible,” he said. “We don’t need a lot of river-wide features. In Golden, they have one drop after another. The kayak features are good for trout and fishing, but you also need the (pattern of) riffles and runs to keep aquatic insects at a premium. It’s not just a boating park.”
The author of a new book about introducing children to outdoor adventure sports, “Outdoor Parents, Outdoor Kids,” Buchanan said he thinks tubing can be an ideal way to introduce youngsters to the joys of a naturally flowing river. He envisions future repairs to the Ambulance Barn Hole that would create a tubing and rafting bypass of an improved kayak play hole, meeting the needs of a variety of floaters.