Yampa River stewardship focus of 2015 Leadership Steamboat class | SteamboatToday.com

Yampa River stewardship focus of 2015 Leadership Steamboat class

About Leadership Steamboat:

The Leadership Steamboat training program was organized in 1992 as a way to develop leaders in business and community service.

A project of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association and Colorado Mountain College, the program selects a class of about 20 to 25 participants from local businesses each year.

The class meets roughly once a month, learning through community field trips and forums about the local economy, politics, local issues and other businesses that interest the class, ultimately deciding on a class project that will benefit the community.

The 2014 Leadership Steamboat class worked with the Yampa Valley Community Foundation to form Yampa Valley Gives, a local branch of the statewide Colorado Gives organization.

The group worked to engage local nonprofits and encourage local giving on Colorado Gives Day in December 2014. The one-day fundraising drive generated $404,926.71 for local nonprofits in its first year.

— Members of the 2015 Leadership Steamboat class hope to reinforce local interest in practicing good stewardship of the Yampa River.

The 24-member class began meeting in fall 2014, and selected the river stewardship project as its focus out of four or five other possible project visions, according to Ryan Fleming, a class member and the director of guest services for Resort Group.

“The goal of our project is to foster stewardship locally and possibly even statewide by bringing into the forefront education and awareness of the river,” Fleming said.

The “Catch the Drift” project will include the installation of permanent educational signs along the core trail and Yampa River at highly trafficked areas, the creation and distribution of stewardship kits with items encouraging healthy and sustainable river recreating and a community marketing and communication campaign.

“I believe that the Yampa is kind of the lifeblood of this area,” said Fleming, who is part of a sub-group focusing on the creation of the stewardship kits, which will include a branded mesh river bag and branded reusable canteens, and be available for Friends of the Yampa to use for fundraising at the closure of the Leadership Steamboat project.

The class is working in partnership with Friends of the Yampa and alongside other community stakeholders as it moves forward with the project, according to class member Helen Brown, a health benefit coordinator at Yampa Valley Medical Center.

“We’re making sure we’re listening to the requests of all of the stakeholders,” Brown said. “We’re looking to pool these stakeholders together.”

The class has started an online fundraising campaign on http://www.tilt.com to support its efforts and has also applied for grants to fund the various components of the project.

Both Fleming and Brown said they are active users of the Yampa River and strongly support the project.

“It’s definitely something I think is very important,” said Fleming, who is an active fly fisherman and finds it disappointing when he sees trash along the shore. “The Yampa is the main heart of our valley here.”

The class plans to hold an event in late May to kick off the Friends of the Yampa River Fest weekend. The forum discussion will take place from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday, May 28 at the Chief Theater and will include a series of local and regional speakers.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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