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Shifting Currents - Part Three

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Anthony Delgartio visits the Boardwalk at Rotary Park, a 1,300-foot-long boardwalk that winds through 7 acres of wetlands near a stretch of the Yampa River east of Steamboat Springs. The park features informational signs in English and Spanish and a kiosk to educate visitors about the river and its wetlands. Photo by Tyler Arroyo

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Mike Montagne releases razorback suckers into the Yampa River after injecting the fish with passive transponders, which allow biologists to track them. Montagne has devoted 13 years of his career to propagating the endangered fish species. Photo by Tom Ross

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A prickly pear cactus has finished flowering near the Maybell Ditch. The Yampa River supports a delicate ecosystem that has adapted to the riverÕs natural cycles. Photo by Tyler Arroyo

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Colorado Division of Wildlife fisheries biologist Billy Atkinson and assistant Dave Dietrich test the Yampa River for dissolved oxygen in summer 2004. The extreme drought of 2002 caused trout in the Steamboat Springs stretch of the Yampa to bunch up near the mouth of Fish Creek, where the cold water held more oxygen. Photo by Tom Ross

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From top: Photo by John Rinne; photo courtesy of Dexter National Fish Hatchery; photo by James E. Johnson; photo courtesy of Colorado Division of Wildlife/Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Graphic by Jayme Elrod

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Stillwater Reservoir is full from melting snow in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area in South Routt County. Stillwater is one of a string of small reservoirs along the upper Yampa. Photo by Tyler Arroyo

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Mike Hughes, a crew leader with the city of Steamboat Springs' Community Youth Corps, checks on the health of a box elder sapling at The Nature Conservancy's Carpenter Ranch east of Hayden. The box elder is a member of a rare plant community that evolved along the Yampa River. Hughes and a team of young adults were working at the ranch under a grant from the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. Photo by Tom Ross

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National Park Service botanist Tamara Naumann and her husband, Pete Williams, set out down the Yampa River in Dinosaur National Monument. Naumann is on a mission to eradicate the invasive plant tamarisk from the river environment, where it aggressively displaces native species. Photo by Tom Ross

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Graphic by Jayme Elrod

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The pale lavender blossoms of tamarisk have the beauty of ornamental plants. But the pretty flowers are deceiving. The tamarisk is an aggressive invader that disrupts the natural environment along rivers such as the Yampa and Green in Northwest Colorado. Photo by Tom Ross

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service raises thousands of endangered razorback suckers at the Ouray Fish Hatchery south of Vernal, Utah. The razorback is the most threatened of four endangered fish that have evolved during millions of years in the lower reaches of the Yampa, Green and Colorado rivers. Photo by Tom Ross

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Members of the Yampa Valley Fly Fishers help Colorado Division of Wildlife biologists count the numbers and species of fish in the Yampa River within the boundaries of the Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Area. The survey, completed in late fall 2004, found a few large trout in the stretch, along with northern pike, but very few younger trout. The crew used electro-shocking to temporarily stun the fish, making them easier to locate. They were returned safely to the water. Photo by Tom Ross

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Heidi Mitzelfeld, an education specialist with The Nature Conservancy, explains how the Yampa River carves sediment from the banks of river on the outside of bends, where the current is fastest, and deposits silt and gravel on the inside of bends, where the current is slower. The river and the plants and animals that live along its length in Routt County are woven together, she said. Photo by Tom Ross

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The upthrust layers of rock in this ridge guarding the entrance to "The Vale of Tears" in Dinosaur National Monument are typical of the changes wrought on the landscape 65 million years ago. Much more recently, the Yampa River, foreground, became a tributary of the Green River, and the two rivers combined to cut downward through hundreds of feet of rock. Photo by Tom Ross

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