Agencies caution recreational water users about rising levels

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At its regular meeting Tuesday, the Moffat County Commission:

• Approved, 3-0, a lease agreement for cattle grazing and hay field use at Loudy-Simpson Park.

• Approved, 3-0, a ground lease and a set of rules and regulations for the Craig/Moffat County Airport.

• Approved, 2-1, a tie down policy for the Craig/Moffat County Airport regarding the usage of space by airplane owners. Commissioner Tom Gray was the dissenting vote and expressed concern that the policy did not detail how the airport board would handle aircraft owners who violate the terms.

• Approved, 3-0, the monthly treasurer’s reports.

• Approved, 3-0, the bylaws for the Moffat County Libraries Board of Trustees.

• Approved, 3-0, a credit application for Agrium Advanced Technologies.

• Approved, 3-0, the purchase of a tilt deck trailer for the Road & Bridge Department from James S. Simos Sales for $5,695.

• Heard from members of Club 20, including Ray Beck and Jeff Comstock, about a trip to Washington DC, observing how the workings of federal government affect Craig and Moffat County.

• Listened to a presentation from John Wagner, of County Technical Services, Inc., about the details of insurance coverage for county employees.

Every year, once May rolls around, Ron Dellacroce sees an outbreak of spring fever, as people start to head into the rivers of Northwest Colorado for some water fun.

But, the renewed interest in boating and rafting can be “a good kind of bad” if the weather shift has too much of an effect on river levels.

Dellacroce, a ranger with Colorado State Parks, was one of several group representatives who attended the Moffat County Commission’s quarterly intergovernmental agencies meeting Tuesday afternoon.

Though those in attendance were speaking on behalf of organizations ranging from the U.S. Forest Service to the Colorado State Land Board to Dinosaur National Monument, one topic was prevalent: the rising water levels around Moffat County.

Working with the Yampa River State Park, Dellacroce has seen the body of water rise considerably this spring.

“There are parts where it’s gone up two feet since Friday,” he said. “It’s a little bit of an anxiety time.”

The biggest concerns for the Yampa are around Hayden, where the parks department is considering closing public access if the water should rise much higher, preventing safe clearance for recreational river users under bridges.

“We’re not there yet, but we’re probably just a couple of days from closing public access,” Dellacroce said. “When the river comes up to where we can’t get under the bridges there, that’s when it gets dangerous. People can still access it from private property.”

Dellacroce said the westward flow of the Yampa could mean similar problems for Craig residents and recreational users at areas like Yampa Valley Golf Course and Loudy-Simpson Park.

“With such great volume there, people are going to have to be careful just being around the river because it’s going to running so fast,” he said. “Right now, flows are going to be seven to nine miles an hour, and that’s more than most people can swim.”

Regarding any access closures, Dellacroce said he has not heard any negative feedback from river users.

“People are doing the research, calling us, calling the sheriff’s department and making sure it’s safe,” he said.

Moffat County Sheriff Tim Jantz has been monitoring the river’s activities on the United States Geological Survey’s website, waterdata.usgs.gov.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the outposts for the Yampa River in Moffat County gave readings of 10,400 cubic feet per second near Craig, 11,900 cubic feet per second near Maybell and 16,900 cubic feet per second near Deerlodge.

Jantz was unable to attend the afternoon session, but was in attendance at the regular commission meeting Tuesday morning to present his findings and let the commission know that he and his staff were ready to lend a hand to the Moffat County Office of Emergency Management, if necessary.

“Our major areas of concern are bridges and low-lying roads where we just need to inform people, ‘Hey, you need to stay off of these,’” he said.

Jantz said he also wanted to keep people interested in water recreation alert.

“Every year, there are kayakers and boaters who want to go play in the water, and every year, we remind them that it’s big and cold and it can be very dangerous if you’re not experienced,” he said.

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