Some community members continue to call for more enforcement of Yampa River rules
Steamboat Springs — Some local river outfitters, wildlife officials and parks and recreation commissioners are continuing to call on the city to find a way to better police summer fun on the Yampa River.
At a recent Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Commission meeting, Colorado Parks and Wildlife aquatic biologist Bill Atkinson praised a planned river stewardship education campaign being led by Leadership Steamboat.
But he said it and other efforts, like signage, will just be a “band-aids” if they aren’t accompanied by new enforcement efforts for all river users.
Some community members are suggesting new user fees could generate revenue that could then be used to police all river users and mitigate things like littering and public alcohol consumption.
Others see an opportunities to make regulated commercial trips more appealing and reduce the number of unregulated private users.
The calls for more enforcement comes in the wake of a busy summer on the Yampa.
It also come as the city works to address a situation in which more local property management companies are serving as unregulated commercial river outfitters by shuttling tubers to and from the Yampa in places the commercial tubing operations aren’t allowed.
The discussion about stepping up enforcement on the river came up during a recent Parks and Recreation Commission meeting as the commission renewed the permits of five commercial river outfitters and approved two new ones.
Much of the discussion about river enforcement centers on private river users who can operate outside the rules and fees that are placed on commercial river operators.
Parks and Recreation Commissioner Doug Tumminello said it was unfair for the city to burden commercial river outfitters with regulations and fees while leaving private river users unregulated.
Tumminello said he would be in favor of some sort of user fee on parking or tubes.
“We should consider engaging in some form of cost recovery so we can implement policing and regulation of the river like we need to,” Tumminello said.
Some private river outfitters have in recent weeks expressed support for such a measure.
They’ve also suggested that letting tubing operations launch above the Fifth Street bridge could make a regulated, commercial trip on a tube more attractive to visitors than they currently are.
City officials have said they currently don’t have the manpower or the budget to actively regulate river users on the town stretch of the Yampa.
Parks and Community Services Director John Overstreet said his department plans to seek additional funding in 2016 that could be used to add a staff member to police the river.
Commercial operations approved
Five commercial river operators who started up last year got their licenses with the city renewed by the commission last week.
The commission also approved a new stand-up paddleboarding operator and a new rafting operator.
The approvals of the commercial operations followed a discussion about how much commercial use on the Yampa River would be too much.
Craig Robinson, the city’s parks, open space and trails manager, told the commission that someone anonymously posted stickers all along the Yampa River Corridor last year that said “Stop Over Guiding Our Public Waters.”
Robinson said the city would like to talk to the person who put up the stickers to discuss their concerns.
Robinson also outlined concerns the city has with commercial operations that include:
• Customer education public service announcements not being done by outfitters.
• Reports of tubing companies possibly exceeding their daily allotted numbers.
• Potential public concern about new commercial operations on the Yampa.
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