Haiku, hydropower come together at Stagecoach Dam
October 3, 2017
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS —Haiku, hydropower and fisheries biology were all wrapped into the lesson plan earlier this fall when a group of fifth graders from Soda Creek Elementary School in Steamboat Springs took a field trip to Stagecoach Reservoir about 15 miles south of town on the Yampa River.
Teacher Andrew Miller said the students learned from U.S. Forest Service fisheries biologist Rick Henderson the importance of monitoring the health of the the Yampa River. And they got to watch as Henderson and Colorado Parks and Wildlife fisheries biologist Billy Atkinson sampled the trout and other species in the river.
Not everyone might guess that in some ways dams help support fish populations – in late summer when rivers run low, the water being released from deep in a reservoir can keep the river at healthier flows with colder water that carries more dissolved oxygen – something the trout need to survive.
Dana Miller, dam safety engineer for the Colorado Division of Water Resources, explained to the students how the 145-foot-tall dam was built. The project was originally conceived in 1983 and dedicated in 1989.
The reservoir can store 36,439 acre-feet of water. One acre-foot is the equivalent of 326,000 gallons, enough to cover a football field one-foot deep.
Andy Rossi of Upper Yampa Water Conservancy hosted the students, who got to tour the hydroelectric facility inside the concrete dam. The John R. Fetcher Hydroelectric Plant generates 5 million kilowatt-hours of renewable energy each year – enough electricity to power about 500 homes.
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But the trip to Stagecoach Reservoir wasn't all about science and technology, Andrew Miller reported. The students were also given some quiet time so they could contemplate the natural environment and express their impressions by writing Haiku verse.
Some examples include:
Rocks covered in moss
Trees, Tall, Proud, Fallen, Standing
Algae, woosh, wet, calm
– Izzy P.
Color bursting trout
Swimming with greatness and pride
Snap, there goes a fly