High water awaits Yampa River cleanup crews in Steamboat | SteamboatToday.com

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High water awaits Yampa River cleanup crews in Steamboat

The Yampa River bank was the place to hang out in the sun Friday. Backdoor Sports hosts a river cleanup day followed by pizza and door prizes 9 a.m. until noon Monday.

— The Yampa River was fat and sassy in downtown Steamboat Springs on Friday, carrying 25 percent more water than is typical for July 23.

"Isn't it beautiful?" Peter Van De Carr asked.

Van De Carr, proprietor of Backdoor Sports, is organizing the first of two annual river cleanup days. The first is from 9 a.m. to noon Monday.

The river was flowing past his shop at 240 cubic feet per second Friday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. He knew the high flows would be harder for volunteers to spy all of the river sandals, gym shoes and broken pieces of homemade rafts typically found along the town stretch of the river by late July. But he was looking on the bright side.

"All this water means I can take a couple of rafts upstream to ferry trash in," Van De Carr said.

At the autumn 2009 river cleanup day, Van De Carr said, 80 people, including students at the Yampa Valley Science School, collected a small mountain of trash.

"Do you know what the biggest kind of trash is?" Van De Carr asked. "We're seeing more and more golf balls in the river."

Take a penalty stroke.

The most despised form of river trash?

"Plastic water bottles are everywhere," he said. "It really infuriates me."

River enthusiasts will gather at 9 a.m. Monday at Backdoor Sports, and the staff will ferry volunteers to different stretches of river. Trash bags are provided by the city of Steamboat Springs. Soda Creek Pizza is kicking in the pies for lunch. Van De Carr is optimistic he has a raffle prize for almost everyone who participates.

"I really think the Respect the Yampa campaign is making a difference in terms of how much litter we're seeing on the river," he said. "I talk to people all the time and I talk to fishermen every day and ask how their experience was. I really think the campaign has exceeded our expectations.”