Our view: Go with the flow on the Yampa | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: Go with the flow on the Yampa

At issue: The Yampa River remains a prime place for recreation in the summer months. Our view: Usage is up and we encourage the city to continue looking for ways to manage the challenges and educate the public about respectful use of the river. Editorial Board • Suzanne Schlicht, COO and publisher • Lisa Schlichtman, editor • Jim Patterson, evening editor • Tom Ross, reporter • Beth Melton, community representative • Paul Weiss, community representative Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@SteamboatToday.com.

Over the past week, which included the Fourth of July holiday, the Yampa River has overflowed with tubers enjoying the waterway that snakes through town. With tunes blaring and tubes connected together to create a floating party barge, there were times when the Yampa took on a spring break-like vibe.

Tubing on the river has become a favorite summer pastime for visitors and locals, and we don’t think there’s much that can be done to keep people off the river. But we do believe the city and other groups dedicated to “respecting the Yampa” should continue to look for ways to mitigate and manage the challenges created by so many people recreating on the river during summer weekends.

Basic recreational use of the river is managed through the city’s Yampa River Management Plan, which attempts to control use of the river at “sustainable levels that protect the health of the river.” Commercial tubing is permitted from Fifth Street to the 13th Street bridge, and the city recommends that private tubers put-in at Fetcher Pond and exit the river at the Steamboat Springs Transit Center parking lot.

We encourage visitors to go the commercial route as well. Local companies that rent tubes offer helpful tips on how to tube the river safely, what to wear on the river and how to keep the river litter free. They also provide convenient transportation back to where tubing adventures begin, which cuts down on the need to walk along Lincoln Avenue with huge tubes in tow or ride the city bus.

In response to increased recreational use of the Yampa, the city launched a river ranger program last summer, and this year, that effort continues with rangers patrolling the Yampa during busy weekends and educating the public about river rules and safety.

And then there’s Friends of the Yampa, a local nonprofit, founded in 1981, that is dedicated to “protecting and enhancing the river’s environmental and recreational integrity through stewardship, advocacy, education and partnerships,” and the group’s programs have proven effective.

On Saturday, the group of 130 volunteers conducted a river cleanup that yielded 120 large garbage bags of trash and lost items, revealing to us that there’s still a need for more education about keeping one of Northwest Colorado’s most important natural resources healthy.

To do our part, we’re reminding readers that “Respecting the Yampa” involves these basic principles:
• Do not bring loose items on the river – it becomes trash downstream
• Secure everything to your tube – Rig to Flip
• Do not bring: flip flops, alcohol and glass, Styrofoam or coolers
• Life jackets are encouraged for all river floaters
• Use one of the approved commercial tube suppliers for the best experience
• Respect other users and private property
• Put in at Fetcher Park or lower to comply with management plans.

The Yampa River is a great place to enjoy Steamboat Springs, but it should never be confused with a water theme park. We encourage people to enjoy our river but to always keep in mind it’s a living ecosystem that must be protected and respected.

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