Fund to protect Yampa River exceeds endowment goal 2 years ahead of schedule |

Fund to protect Yampa River exceeds endowment goal 2 years ahead of schedule

The fund set up to help protect the Yampa River has exceeded its endowment goal two years ahead of expectations, fund managers announced Wednesday.

Annual grants are awarded through the fund, which launched in 2019, for projects aimed at protecting the Yampa River, especially considering the hotter, drier climate and lower river flows. The fund’s total is now estimated to be $5.3 million by 2023, surpassing the original goal of $4.75 million.

The fund held its first grant cycle in February 2020. Over the past three years, more than 100 donors have contributed to the fund, including an anonymous donor who gave $1 million this summer. The fund has so far awarded $400,000 in grants to projects throughout the Yampa Valley, which have supported water releases during times of low flows, environmental restoration projects and agricultural infrastructure improvements.

“We set the goal for the endowment in order to be able to make significant grants every year,” Tim Wohlgenant, executive director of the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, said in a news release. “Exceeding our goal means we can invest in even more protections for the Yampa River far into our future.”

A partnership of 21 public, private and nonprofit entities representing the entire Yampa River Basin collaborated to create the board that governs the Yampa River Fund.

“The local support has been incredible,” Lindsey Marlow, executive director of Friends of the Yampa, said in a news release. “The Yampa River is the lifeblood of our community, and we have really seen this community come together to launch this fund and help it grow. We all know the stakes and want to do whatever we can to protect this vital resource.”

Despite exceeding the fund’s initial goal, fundraising is not over, according to the fund managers. While the funds earned from the endowment go to help pay for grants, there is still an ongoing need for money to pay for managing the fund.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to reach this major milestone for the Yampa River Fund,” Andy Bauer, Yampa River fund manager for The Nature Conservancy, said in a news release. “This incredible support is a testament to the importance of the Yampa River to the communities, economy and livelihoods in the Yampa Valley.”

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