Martin Bradley Smith: Protect our river, act on climate |

Martin Bradley Smith: Protect our river, act on climate

River recreation activities like rafting, kayaking and paddle boarding are growing increasingly popular, but supply is struggling to meet the demand in Colorado due to low stream flows.

Variable temperatures and precipitation brought on by climate change resulted in dismal snowpack and equally dismal runoff, and now the river industry is faced with premature peak stream flows. According to a recent Denver Post article, these early peaks will challenge Colorado’s $193 million river recreation industry.

The Yampa River reached its peak May 26, and it was the lowest peak since 2012, a year that marked significant drought in Colorado. In light of the Yampa River Festival June 1 to 3, we shouldn’t take our river and the fun it provides us for granted.

Limited access to whitewater is a buzz kill for many tourists and locals alike, but the limitations reveal a more sinister problem: a warming climate. Climate change will continue to wreak havoc on local economies on the Western Slope and alter the way we use the outdoors if elected officials like Rep. Scott Tipton refuse to recognize the toll climate change takes on his district.

Let’s keep our river safe and accessible, let’s demand climate action.

Martin Bradley Smith

Steamboat Springs

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