Low flow levels cause closure of Yampa River to recreational, commercial activities ahead of Labor Day weekend
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — After being placed on call last week for only the second time in history, the Yampa River will be closed to commercial and recreational activities beginning after midnight Wednesday.
Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation reported late afternoon Tuesday that flows had dropped below 85 cubic feet per second, the point at which triggers closures. Commercial tubing and angling companies will be required to suspend operations as the closures go into effect starting at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.
“Mandatory closures of the Yampa River are becoming unfortunately more frequent,” said Craig Robinson, parks, open space and trails manager, said in a news release Tuesday. “We would like to thank the community, especially our commercial operators, for their cooperation and support during this critical time. Our efforts go directly to the long-term health of our number one natural resource.”
The closures will remain in effect until rescinded by officials with the city and Colorado Parks and Wildlife, according to the city.
Recreational river users are asked to abide by the closures, which are considered voluntary for the public. There is also a voluntary fishing closure on the Yampa River within Steamboat and the Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Area located south of the city.
“When water flows are minimal, fish become concentrated in residual pool habitat and become stressed due to increased competition for food resources,” Kris Middledorf, Parks and Wildlife area wildlife manager in Steamboat, said in a news release Tuesday. “Because the fish are already stressed by poor water quality conditions, any additional stress from being hooked could make them even more vulnerable to disease and death.”
In addition to the low flow levels, high water temperatures and low oxygen level also are a cause for concern. Temperatures and stream flow are measured by instruments and gauges maintained by the U.S. Geographic Survey, according to the city. Flows of 74 cfs were measured in the river Tuesday.
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Katie Lee graduated with a master’s degree from the University of Wyoming in communications last spring, but as summer started, she hadn’t yet found a job.