Photographer John Fielder publishes new book covering the full length of the Yampa River
Steamboat Springs — The noted Colorado landscape photographer John Fielder and author Patrick Tierney have released their new book, “Colorado’s Yampa River, Free Flowing and Wild from the Flat Tops to the Green,” in time to make an impression this weekend on hundreds of people expected to float the Steamboat Springs section of the Yampa River in inflatable tubes during Rainbow Weekend.
What better time to deliver the message that the Yampa is a national treasure, as Bob Irwin, president of American Rivers describes it in the preface to the new book.
“In a region where most rivers have been dammed, diverted and tamed for power production and water supply, one river stands apart. The Yampa,” Irwin wrote. “This is a river wild and free, functioning as nature intended. The fact that we have so few wild rivers left in our country makes the Yampa so special. It is a national treasure.”
As Tierney writes, through its 249-mile length, from the headwaters streams in the Flat Tops to it’s confluence with the Green River in the canyons of Dinosaur National Monument in far western Moffat County, the Yampa traverses “an amazing diversity of natural landscapes, wildlife, geology and history.”
Fielder and Tierney re-searched and gathered photographs for the book during a number of expeditions to the region in 2013 and 2014, including two multi-day float trips through Yampa Canyon in Dinosaur National Monument hosted by American Rivers, Friends of the Yampa and OARS Rafting. Additionally, in the early spring of 2014, they launched from Steamboat at high water with Fielder rowing a 12-foot raft and Tierney paddling a kayak on a 110-mile float to Maybell in Moffat County.
Snowpack was sufficiently abundant that spring, and runoff so high there were doubts they would be able to squeeze their boats and gear beneath all the bridges. But the float allowed them to experience a stretch of the Yampa that relatively few people experience.
Tierney, a professor of Parks Recreation and Tourism at San Francisco State University, described during a float trip down Yampa Canyon in Dinosaur in 2014, how that stretch of the Yampa is critical habitat for the endangered pikeminnow (actually a large fish).
“The pikeminnow migrate as much as 200 miles,” Tierney said. “They come from the White River into the Green and up to this gravel bar. There has been a natural ecosystem here for thousands of years. They have a right to survive.”
Tierney also writes about the Yampa’s human, natural and political history.
Throughout the multi-phase journey, Fielder faithfully rose before dawn to exercise his special talent for capturing broad landscapes of half-frozen tarns in the tundra of the Flat Tops. Descending from the mountains, he captured the cattle pastures of South Routt and the wildlife that occupy the river’s banks.
In all, the book contains 150 images. It is enriched with “then-and-now” images of early Steamboat, Craig and even Juniper Hot Springs further west.
Fielder is planning a “Celebrate the Yampa River Weekend” Sept. 11 to 13 including a photography exhibit at the Depot Art Center on Sept. 11. He will lead photography workshops titled “In Search of Cranes” and evening slide shows accompanied by the Steamboat Symphony Orchestra Sept. 12 and 13.
“Colorado’s Yampa River, Free Flowing and Wild from the Flat Tops to the Green,” is available from John Fielder Publishing at johnfielder.com, and at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore & Coffeehouse, 68 Ninth St. in Steamboat Springs.
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