County Update: Planning for the future
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Fall in the beautiful Yampa Valley. It’s a great time to talk about efforts to protect and enhance our valley as responsible residents. It’s perfect, as our valley falls into colors and nears winter season, to reflect efforts that benefit the future.
These are efforts aimed at enhancing our local environment by being proactive in planning our futures and being part of a sustainable worldwide environment. All these projects increase in importance as we face the uncertainty of climate change and global warming. Here are some of the efforts the county and partners are involved in.
- Greenhouse Gas Study: Routt County is partnering with the city of Steamboat Springs and numerous others to gather an inventory of greenhouse gases generated in our county. This inventory will mirror the inventory study done in 2005 on greenhouse gases in the community and the sources of those gases. It will hopefully lead to mitigation projects, which might lessen locally generated gases.
- Yampa River Fund: yampariverfund.org; The effort is an accumulation of countless volunteer hours from numerous agencies to design a local contribution fund to assist in sensitive water projects enhancing environmental, recreational, agricultural and municipal/industrial beneficial uses of Yampa Basin Waters. Spearheaded by The Nature Conservancy and the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, the fund is a contribution fund that will ultimately increase the resiliency of our water system.
- Yampa Integrated Water Management Planning: Led by the Yampa White Green Roundtable, yampawhitegreen.org; The Yampa Integrated Water Management Planning is a three-year program that identifies projects and processes where the river system can be enhanced for all users. The program will generate “boots on the ground” projects funded by landowners, agency, grant or potentially YWF funds to enhance the river system for the mutual benefit of users. The Yampa continues to be a relatively free flowing river with only 10% of our native flows consumed locally. The remainder leaves the basin.
- Colorado State University Agriculture Use Study: CSU is leading an effort assisting water planning and the potential retiming of agriculture water and how those changes will affect the river flows, agriculture production and basic rural economics of the Yampa Basin. This study is also modeling Yampa River uses under changing climates, changing seasons and changing river flows. It will also continue the study of agriculture efficiencies (flood versus sprinkler irrigation) in the Upper Yampa Basin irrigated lands.
- Drought Contingency Planning: The Yampa White Green Roundtable continues to respond to 19 years of continued drought and a forecasted dryer future. The work, along with the rest of the state of Colorado and the five upper basin states, is to reduce the risk of a 1922 Colorado River Compact Call. It seems to be clear that the Colorado River is over allocated and over utilized.
- Water Quality Monitoring: In collaboration with many local governments, an annual water quality monitoring program has been in place since 2005 on five select points on our river system.
- Continuous Air Quality Monitoring program: Routt County is hosting an air monitoring data base for numerous locations across the county. Data can be obtained at co.routt.co.us or purpleair.com.
As we move into a new decade, Routt County’s participation in these environmental and water issues will assist us in preserving a stable future. Our environment and water are our lifeblood. Our livelihood depends on clean water and air.
Everyone has a personal responsibility to do their individual part in preserving our collective future. We’re all in this ‘Boat together. Be the best you can be.
Doug Monger is on the Routt County Board of Commissioners and a board member on Upper Yampa Water Conservancy, Colorado River Water Conservancy District and Yampa White Green Roundtable.
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