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River rehab

Classic cars pulled out of Yampa banks

— Under different circumstances, they might have been revered as classic automobiles from a bygone era.

However, the rusted automobiles that were jerked out of the banks of the Yampa River Tuesday were a nuisance at best. The old car bodies, including a 1971 Rambler, were undermining the health of the river where it flows through the Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Area.

The Yampa Valley Fly Fishers, through its separate not-for-profit trust – the Yampa Valley Stream Improvement Charitable Trust – has raised $90,000 in cash to help leverage a $700,000 budget for a stream improvement project at “The Chuck.” It won’t be complete before 2008.



“This project is a natural for us,” Jim Curd said. “It’s going to be one incredible stretch of trout habitat.”

Curd, one of five board members of the charitable trust, said the car bodies were anchored in the riverbank decades ago in an attempt to stop erosion. However, the hardened riverbanks shut down the natural hydrology of the river.



The cars were removed by a heavy equipment operator from Routt County Road and Bridge.

Curd said the work went smoothly.

“The guy was definitely skilled,” he said. “We had fears of the banks caving off into the river, but there really wasn’t much of that. It was what I consider minimal disturbance.”

Pulling the car bodies from the banks is just the first step in the project. Volunteers will work to return variety to the river channel. They’ll team with local governments and the Colorado Division of Wildlife, all working under the guidance of a consulting hydrologist.

The work will include condensing the main channel of the river to make it deeper in low water periods. They’ll rebuild point bars that deflect the current and install subsurface rock clusters in riffles to improve trout habitat.

The project goes beyond the actual river channel to include planting native shrubs in an effort to naturally stabilize banks.

The plan also calls for preventing predatory northern pike from accessing their spawning areas while maintaining backwater sloughs for waterfowl.

The Fly Fishers have raised funds through their annual Golf Trout Tournament, which will be held Sept. 8 to 10 this year. For information, go to yvff.org.


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