Community Agriculture Alliance: Respect the Yampa and all its users
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
Here at Friends of the Yampa, we hope everyone is out enjoying the Yampa River, whichever way you prefer. Be it getting your ditches cleaned out and ready for irrigation, watching greater Sandhill cranes and other abundant wildlife, sitting and listening to the water flow or rallying your crew and recreating on this local treasure, we hope you are getting after it and do so respectfully to all river users.
Currently, our snowpack in the Yampa Basin is 55% of normal for this time of year. We know this isn’t going to provide us with a long river season or the big water flows that we love and cherish. Without large reservoirs in its headwaters, we can’t have sustained releases in the Yampa that will extend our river season like we see on the Colorado or Arkansas rivers. With this challenge, it requires us to work together and play nicely, where all of us do our part to share the Yampa.
With this in mind, we want to remind all the Yampa River floaters that the large majority of the Yampa River’s banks are privately owned, and, surprisingly, many people do not know that means floaters may not touch the land beneath the river, nor the banks on either side. Recently, the Integrated Water Management Plan stakeholder committee interviewed some landowners adjacent to the river to get their take on floaters. Their take was relatively neutral: Some don’t like recreationists, some are not bothered by them, and many said it depended on the user. One thing that was expressed with consistency is recreationists need to respect the landowners’ property rights. We were happy to see that it is rarely an issue, but there is a range of people who are either unaware of what they can and cannot do and others who ignore the rules entirely.
The Yampa River State Park manages several access points, starting at the Pump House upstream of Hayden and going all the way to Juniper Access down near Maybell. Last year, they saw an exceptional increase in recreational users on the Yampa.
“We are asking park users and floaters to understand and respect those private property rights, and vice versa, regarding landowners respecting the rights of recreationists to float and use the river,” said Jacob Dewhirst, Yampa River State Park manager. “With increasing use of the Yampa River, that understanding is going to be more and more important; there needs to be mutual respect.”
Friends of the Yampa has recently finished a video seeking to teach river etiquette to its users. This does not include just property rights but also how we can respect each other while floating the river. Stay tuned for more information on its release. As you read this article, the water is up — though not very high — and people are recreating. Remember while you are out there, folks, respect each other, respect private property and most importantly, respect the Yampa.
Lindsey Marlow and Kent Vertrees are part of Friends of the Yampa.
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