The Yampa River runs high in June 2011 at its confluence with the Little Snake River near Maybell. Friends of the Yampa will premiere a documentary Thursday night that chronicles the importance of the Yampa’s annual swell.

Kent Vertrees/Courtesy

The Yampa River runs high in June 2011 at its confluence with the Little Snake River near Maybell. Friends of the Yampa will premiere a documentary Thursday night that chronicles the importance of the Yampa’s annual swell.

Documentary chronicles importance of Yampa River’s spring swell

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Past Event

“The Last One” screening and conversation about the 2011 Yampa River flood

  • Thursday, March 22, 2012, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
  • Bud Werner Memorial Library, 1289 Lincoln Ave., Steamboat Springs
  • Not available

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A documentary premiering Thursday night at Bud Werner Memorial Library will celebrate the Yampa River’s wild nature.

Some endangered fish and riverside habitats that house cottonwood trees depend on the Yampa’s rise each spring, said Friends of the Yampa board member Kent Vertrees. He added that its annual swelling is important to the Yampa Valley and the Northwest Colorado lifestyle.

As rafters and kayakers begin taking to the river that is starting to quicken, Vertrees hopes the 15-minute documentary he directed ultimately will convey to audiences the benefits of the Yampa’s spring runoff.

He said the documentary is the third installment of the conservation group’s Yampa River Awareness Project, which utilizes photos and videos to promote the river and explain its importance.

“With its big, unmanaged water flows, the Yampa is the last river of its kind in this area,” he said. “You always get a feeling when you’re on it that you are having a unique experience.”

The short film titled “The Last One” includes interviews with college professors and river experts from across the country and will take audiences back to June 2011, when the river was running at its summer peak through Yampa Canyon near Maybell. Vertrees enlisted the help of Colorado Mountain College sustainability studies student Ben Saheb to edit about 220 gigabytes worth of aerial photographs, interviews and video footage taken from a summer rafting and kayaking trip down the Yampa.

“What I learned as I edited this was just the sheer rarity of an undammed river in Colorado,” Saheb said. “We are very fortunate to live in Steamboat and to have access to a river as rare as this.”

He said he and members of the Friends of the Yampa plucked “gems” such as insightful interviews and “breathtaking” pan shots of the river and the Yampa Canyon to create the documentary.

“I didn’t get any college credit for helping to put this together,” Saheb said. “The only reason I did it was because I have a passion for the river, and I wanted to be a part of this project. This is something a lot of people need to see.”

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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