Rangers coming to city parks and rivers near you
April 4, 2016
Steamboat Springs — Tubers who take booze to the Yampa River and dog owners who let their beloved pets run free or leave their business on the Core Trail will be more likely to encounter city employees with the power to write tickets this summer.
Near Memorial Day, the city of Steamboat Springs will deploy a new park ranger program that aims to reduce conflicts at city parks, on the Yampa River and on the Core Trail.
The ranger division will employ three people who will work 40 hours per week through Labor Day weekend.
Police Chief Cory Christensen said the program is about making sure park visitors have a good time without encountering such things as off-leash dogs, trash, rowdy river users and other potential issues.
The rangers will be able to educate park and river users about rules they may not even realize they are breaking.
"We're looking to try to reduce the chaos that ensues along the Core Trail, in our parks and at the tubing put-ins," Christensen said. "We want people to have fun, safe use of these areas, and we really do want to minimize that kind of chaos or disorder."
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This chaos recently drew the attention of City Council.
The elected officials were especially disappointed last year when after a busy Fourth of July holiday, deflated tubes and trash lined the banks of the city's beloved waterway.
To try to prevent the river and parks from being loved to death, the council approved $40,000 for the ranger program.
The city hasn't had the manpower to strongly enforce the rules on the Yampa.
As the waterway and city parks see more visitors, the city wants to increase its presence and be more proactive about ensuring everyone is following the rules.
"It's a challenging environment to enforce," Christensen said. "And even with these three folks, it's going to be a bit of a challenge. You can't be every place at once."
City staff originally sought more funding for a more robust, year-round program.
However, council questioned whether the city would get the intended results from the program and scaled back the funding request.
Christensen said visitors should not expect to see a ranger program that is focused on doling out tickets, however.
"It's really education first," he said. "They will have the ability to write tickets, but if you don't have any capability of enforcement, there are people who will ignore education. If we have someone who is a repeat offender or causing a specific issue, (the rangers) will have discretion to use that enforcement. We really just want the visitors and the citizens to enjoy a great resource."
Christensen said the new ranger program will allow the police department's existing community service officers to focus more on enforcement of such things as parking.
"At the end of the year we'll evaluate the effectiveness of it and make some changes if we need to make changes," Christensen said. "We're also open to ideas from the public."
What do you think of the new ranger program?
Leave a comment below.
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