Stretch of Yampa River will receive small park, stabilized banks

The stretch of the Yampa River behind The Flour Mill apartments will receive improvements. l Emily Hines/Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation courtesy

Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Department begins a 10-week river restoration and access project on the Yampa River on Wednesday. The project, located on the stretch of the river behind The Flour Mill apartments, aims to improve river access, aquatic habitat and recreational opportunities by stabilizing the banks of the river and developing a small park.

“We are excited to see things start flowing on this highly anticipated project along the Yampa River,” said Matt Barnard, Parks and Recreation project manager. “Not only will these improvements provide great benefits to local recreationalists, they will also enhance and protect the riparian ecosystems that play such a critical role in our local community.”

Jenny Carey, Steamboat’s trails and open space supervisor, said the city tries to do river projects in the fall because the river is at its lowest flow before snow and freezing temperatures arrive.

“The water has undercut the banks quite a bit, so that stabilization will be really important,” Carey said.

Crews from Diggin’ It Riverworks, a Basalt-based company that has completed river projects across the Western Slope, will start the project by using large boulders to stabilize the banks of the river.

Carey said parts of the Yampa River Core Trail may be closed during the project, though closures will likely come in phases and only be for a few hours to days at a time.

“We’ve had a lot of Core Trail closures this year, so we’re trying to minimize that,” Carey said. “We may have a few days where contractors are hauling in equipment, and it may be safer for everyone to close down, but there shouldn’t be very many of those days.”

In addition to river stabilization, the area along the bank will be developed into a small pocket park, which will include benches and a soft surface trail.

“It’s not what you think of in a traditional park, but we wanted to offer some options,” Carey said.

Additional vegetation and trees will be planted along the riverbank to provide shade and help cool river temperatures during the hot summer months, a project between the city and the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council.

Carey and Barnard said they expect the project to be completed by the beginning of December.

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