Recreation restrictions on Yampa River end after 2-month closure
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Restrictions on recreational angling on the Yampa River are set to end Thursday, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Late summer tubing and fishing was lost due to the restrictions, which were issued at the start of September. Commercial tubing and angling companies were required to suspend operations as the closures went into effect.
After two months, those restrictions are set to end at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, but flows remain low.
“We’re encouraging people to release fish carefully and minimize handling,” said Randy Hampton, spokesperson for Parks and Wildlife’s Northwest region. “We appreciate everyone’s assistance during the closure.”
Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation reported flows had dropped below 85 cubic feet per second on Sept. 1, the point that triggers closures.
“Mandatory closures of the Yampa River are becoming unfortunately more frequent,” said Craig Robinson, city parks, open space and trails manager. “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.”
Recreational river users were asked to abide by the closures, which were considered voluntary for the public. There was 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,” said Kris Middledorf, Parks and Wildlife area wildlife manager in Steamboat. “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 were also cause for concern late this summer. Temperatures and stream flow are measured by instruments and gauges maintained by the U.S. Geographic Survey, according to the city.
To reach Bryce Martin, call 970-871-4206 or email bmartin@SteamboatPilot.com.
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