Our view: Rangers to the rescue | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: Rangers to the rescue

In October 2015, Steamboat Springs city staff proposed creating a new park ranger division that would have been charged with enforcing rules on the Yampa River and educating users on the proper way to enjoy one of Steamboat's most popular natural resources. City Council, at that time, responded less than enthusiastically to the idea.

Fast-forward six months, and a new council has embraced the park ranger idea. Last week, the council approved the program as presented by Police Chief Cory Christensen, and we are glad there was a change of heart.

Beginning Memorial Day weekend, three rangers will patrol the river and Core Trail during the busy summer months with the goal of ensuring river users, visitors and locals are able to enjoy Steamboat's summer recreational offerings without encountering trash, off-leash dogs and rowdy river users.

As summer tourism has increased and traffic on the Yampa has exploded, the city has lacked the necessary manpower to strongly enforce rules on the river, and as a result, its banks are often littered with trash following busy holiday weekends. Creating three new positions for the summer to focus on education and enforcement is what was needed to combat this growing problem and ensure the river remains a wholesome place for people to recreate.

In addition to enhancing the summer experience for those visiting Steamboat Springs, we think the new park rangers program will achieve something even more valuable by ultimately reinforcing behavior and practices that protect one of Steamboat's most valuable resources — the Yampa River.

Recommended Stories For You

Last year, the Leadership Steamboat class introduced Catch the Drift, a river stewardship program aimed at protecting the Yampa River. The initiative, which was conducted in concert with the existing Friends of the Yampa group, culminated with the permanent installation of four educational signs along the Core Trail and the river.

The signs promote protection of the river through safe recreation practices, and we think the park ranger program will help build future river awareness on the heels of the successful Catch the Drift campaign.

The Yampa River is similar to a natural-water theme park that attracts a wide range of users, from tubers to fly-fishermen to stand-up paddleboarders. It's the perfect place to enjoy a summer day and entertain visiting friends, but we also must remember it's a natural environment that must be respected and cared for.

It goes back to those "Respect the Yampa" bumper stickers we see on cars and on signs posted along the trail and at area businesses. It's easy to take our river for granted. It's located just steps from downtown Steamboat, and all the recreation it attracts can challenge the river's health and sustainability.

Ultimately, it's up to each individual river user to do his or her part to help preserve the river for future generations, and we think the new park ranger program can make a difference in that arena.

There may still be some wayward flip-flops found along the river's banks or an occasional deflated tube, but instituting a formal program to educate park and river users about the rules that govern use of these public amenities should definitely cut down on out-of-control revelers and trash along the river's banks.

As stated in an April 4 article about the new park rangers program, the $40,000 investment the city is making to get the effort started is a good step toward ensuring our beloved Yampa River isn't loved to death.

At issue

City Council has approved a new park ranger program this summer

Our view

The effort, which will pair education and enforcement, should help protect the Yampa River and ensure the river and the Core Trail remain wholesome places for people to play