Yampa River cleanup day removes beers, flip flops, undies and a computer monitor from water
Steamboat Springs — The volunteers who spent hours cleaning up the Yampa River after the busy Fourth of July weekend will likely never know how that computer monitor got into the river.
Or those three street signs.
There’s also got to be a lost story behind the two pairs of underwear that were plucked from the river.
But the volunteers can take pride in the fact that, by the end of the day, they had removed 324 aluminum cans, 246 cigarette butts, 231 disposable water bottles, 115 flip flops, 54 unopened beers, 39 T-shirts, 18 sandbags, 13 large liquor bottles and several shotgun shells from the waterway and its banks.
While city officials report some progress in mitigating the impact of recreation on the river with the rollout of such things as a new river ranger program, the laundry list of trash that was recovered during the cleanup day highlights the fact that many river users still have room to improve.
“Some people still think it’s the Guadalupe in Texas, and if you drop a beer in it, you can get it,” Backdoor Sports owner and Friends of the Yampa board member Pete Van De Carr said, referring to a river that is much lazier than the Yampa. “But in our Rocky Mountain river, if you drop something, it’s gone. The river is too busy to control whatever inventory you take down with you.”
As the tubing season enters the home stretch, Van De Carr offered some tips for river users.
One of the biggest was to keep the flip flops at home and, instead, wear river shoes or booties.
Backdoor Sports rents the booties for $6.
He also suggested river users who are going to be making multiple trips invest a little more in their tubes.
The cheapest ones often fail and get ditched in the river, he said.
Trash was so bad on the Yampa last year that the city’s elected officials called on city staff and the Parks and Recreation Commission to come up with ideas for how to curb the impact of recreation.
The new river ranger program is the city’s first step.
While the program is still in its infancy, Police Chief Cory Christensen reported earlier this month the rangers had contacted and talked to more than 1,000 residents and visitors by the Fourth of July.
Christensen said the rangers reported they were “having a blast.”
“I asked them about their reception, and they are telling me they are being received very well,” Christensen said.
The rangers divide their time between working in city parks, at river put ins and at the Yampa River Core Trail.
At the put ins, Christensen said the rangers do such things as educate river users about rules and check coolers to ensure no glass is being taken on the river.
The July 9 river cleanup that removed several bags worth of trash from the river was hosted by the city and was put on by American Rivers, Colorado Water Trust, CAN’d Aid Foundation, Friends of the Yampa, Yampatika and the Northwest Colorado Chapter of Parrotheads.
City Manager Gary Suiter said more than 70 volunteers worked in Steamboat, and 20 volunteers worked in Craig.
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