Wild and Free Flowing or Diverted and Dewatered?

CONTACT: Kent Vertrees
Email: kent@steamboatpowdercats.com

March 16, 2011

Wild and Free Flowing or Diverted and Dewatered?

A Familiarization Trip about Colorado’s Yampa River

Steamboat Springs, CO (March 16, 2011): The 270-mile Yampa River in northwest Colorado is the last remaining major free flowing river in the seven state Colorado River basin. Friends of the Yampa and the Yampa River Awareness Project are hosting a two- or a five-day familiarization river trip and educational program June 10-14, 2011, to provide media and government officials an opportunity to learn about the values and controversies surrounding this Colorado artery. The Yampa is at the center of a national and regional debate as a potential water source for new development in the Denver region. The river is home to four endangered fish, a globally rare riparian forest and is the heart of Dinosaur National Monument (DNM). Its flows are critical to regional agriculture, energy production, municipalities, as well as water‐related tourism and recreational activities including fishing, skiing, kayaking and rafting.

The recently released Statewide Water Supply Initiative (SWSI) report, a multi-year study by the Colorado Water Conservation Board, identified eight water supply concepts that could satisfy future State of Colorado water demand. One of the identified concepts is to divert the Yampa River just above DNM and pump water through 250 miles of pipelines and tunnels back eastward over 5,000 feet in elevation to users in the Denver region. It also includes developing 50,000 acre feet of new storage. This concept is similar to the 2005 Yampa Pumpback project proposed by the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District. Such a project would create significant changes and adverse impacts. The SWSI also includes a pumpback project on the Green River in southern Wyoming above DNM. It would involve 442 miles of pipelines and pump water over 3,100 feet in elevation to the Denver region. The Yampa River is the major tributary of the Green River.

This familiarization program will provide insights into the issues and resources related to the Yampa from hydrology, wildlife, recreation and park experts. Options include an abbreviated, two-day rafting trip in DNM, or a complete four-day river trip that ends on the Green River in DNM. The program begins Friday, June 10, with transportation from Steamboat Springs, CO, and includes viewing the Yampa River corridor, land and water uses, a stop at the proposed pumpback diversion site, expert commentary, licensed rafting guides, all food and rafting equipment. The two-day program ends June 11, while the five-day program ends June 14. Transportation is provided back to Steamboat.

For further information contact: kent@steamboatpowdercats.com

Proposed Yampa River Familiarization Trip Itinerary

Thursday June 9 –Arrive in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Meet Friends of the Yampa representatives and receive orientation.

Friday, June 10 –Leave Steamboat at 7am by van with views of tourism, agriculture and energy land uses and natural resources as we drive along the Yampa River to the proposed pumpback project diversion site near Maybell. Then drive a short distance up the Little Snake River, a major tributary of the Yampa, before driving to Deerlodge boat ramp. Launch after lunch.

Saturday, June 11 – Early launch with short hike and lunch at Big Joe. Continue on to Harding Hole. For participants going on two-day program, you’ll hike out of  the canyon to an awaiting vehicle and be transferred back to Steamboat Springs. Others camp along the Yampa at Harding Hole.

Sunday, June 12 – Launch rafts with lunch stop at Mantle Cave/Ranch. Run Warm Springs Rapid. Camp at Box Elder.

Monday, June 13 – After launch arrive at confluence with the Green River and stop to compare free-flowing Yampa with dam-controlled Green. Trip continues on Green River and camps at Jones Hole.

Tuesday, June 14 – Raft through Whirlpool and Split Mountain Canyons.  Arrive at Split Mountain boat ramp exit at about 1:30pm. Van transfer back to Steamboat Springs.

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