History of the Yampa River Awareness Project

2007 Yampa River Awareness Group Shot
2007 Yampa River Awareness Group Shot

This project was organized during the winter of 2006/07. A group of Yampa River advocates and specialists included those from Friends of the Yampa and the Rivers Foundation of the Americas came together in hopes of producing a documentary film to educate the public about the Yampa River, its special attributes and current water projects and proposals regarding this river. Friends of the Yampa has been involved in the following over the course of the YRAP project:

  • Widespread distribution of the original video to agencies, libraries, individuals and organizations.
  • Created of a seven minute video on the Yampa’s attributes in 2007 titled “Secrets of a Free Flowing River”. Filming occurred on a 5 day rafting trip that was sponsored by Adrift Adventures.

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Published in March 2012, as part of the Yampa River Awareness Projects film series:

 

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Film Crew in the Yampa Canyon

The Yampa River Awareness Project’s (YRAP) goals are to:

  • Document the unique resources and values of the wild and free flowing Yampa River.
  • Inform the public and policy makers about these values and what could be lost if a major dam, diversion or dewatering project occurs on the Yampa.
  • Inspire people to protect the Yampa River for future generations.

YRAP is organized by the Friends of the Yampa who rallies local, state, national and international organizations, businesses and individuals to realize the unique natural and reIMG_5292creational values of the Yampa.

The organizations we have worked with on this project are too numerous to list here, so we have entered them into the yearly updates below. Each year has a unique list of participants and each year has a different feel to the trip. We have written short summaries of each year following the inaugural trip (oldest at the bottom, most recent at the top) to give you a feel for the kind of organizations that participate and the products that are generated as a result. Thanks to all who have participated, and especially to those organizations that sponsor this event so we can keep it going year after year.

 

Annual Updates

2017 UPDATE: From June 5-9, 2017, a group of politicians, writers, artists, advocates and business owners floated through the Dinosaur National Monument with the Yampa River Awareness Project. This years flows were generous as we caught the “second peak” of the river and enjoyed a juicy run with between 9,000 and 10,000 cfs. Other groups we encountered along the way were just as excited as we were to experience this high water bump on the river, and our YRAP participants reveled in every moment.

YRAP participants listen to Pat Tierney describe successful efforts to restore healthy Peregrine Falcon populations in the Yampa Canyon, then head to Signature Cave.

Once again, the O.A.R.S. Family of Companies and American Rivers were instrumental in making this trip such an impactful event and we are ever grateful to both of them. If you are considering a trip down any of the Western rivers of the US, consider going with O.A.R.S. as they are a reliable and professional outfitter that gives back to the river again and again. And we hate to think about the state of our nation’s watersheds if it weren’t for the tireless support and protection of American Rivers — support them if you can. We’d also like to thank Lighthawk and our pilots Dan Birch and Jack Dysart for donating the aircraft and the skills to allow our participants to view the 250 mile long Yampa River Basin and associated views of northwest Colorado.

yampa river awareness project
Against the backdrop of Split Mountain, we listened to Mike Conner, former Deputy Secretary of the Interior under Sally Jewell, discuss the future of our public lands under the new administration.

Some of our participants were seasoned river rats and others had never been on a river trip before. Imagine the feeling one gets when they have the opportunity to combine their life’s work of conservation with an experience of floating a wild river through one of the most beautiful and ecologically rich canyon environments in the west. Tamara Naumann, Queen of the Weed Warriors in the Park, joined us to talk about the work they are doing with Tamarisk eradication, and reflected on her term of service in Dinosaur. What a gift she has given to Dinosaur, to be able to rally thousands of volunteers over the years, carefully introduce bio-controls, and educate the public about invasive species along the river. Tamara expressed that she felt her job there was done and she has accomplished the goals she set out to achieve in her career, and would be retiring after this year. Tamara, we thank you for all you have done for the Yampa River. We look forward to working with you in the future in a different capacity, whatever that may look like for you.

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Pat Tierney presents Laura Sanders of Hell’s Canyon Ranch a copy of ‘Colorado’s Yampa River’

We were graciously invited to eat our lunches at Hell’s Canyon Ranch, which many still think of as the historic Mantle Ranch, along the river. We learned a bit of history and the ranch managers reaffirmed their dedication to working with the park on management issues and to being a strong partner with Dinosaur. We toured the property and had a little break in the shade, and Pat Tierney presented Laura and the ranch a copy of the Colorado’s Yampa River coffee table book that he co-wrote with John Fielder.

The Yampa River Awareness Project is here to stay, and we are proud to co-host with with these fantastic organizations and a team of volunteers. To those YRAP alumni who joined us this year, we say thank you for keeping up the good work, and to those who came on their first trips, welcome to the YRAP family. We look forward to making a difference, together.

This year’s participating organizations include the following:

  • O.A.R.S. Family of Companies
  • American Rivers
  • Dinosaur National Monument
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Friends of the Yampa
  • Craig City Government
  • Colorado Water Division 6
  • Tri-State Generation & Transmission
  • Hispanic Access Foundation
  • National Park Service
  • Walton Family Foundation
  • Denver Water
  • National Parks Foundation
  • Nite Ize
  • River Network
  • Independent artists and writers

 

Echo Park
Echo Park, Steamboat Rock and the confluence of the Yampa and Green Rivers.

2015 UPDATE: From June 5-9, 2015, we once again pulled off another great Yampa River Awareness Project trip thru Dinosaur National Monument. With the Yampa River flowing anywhere from 10,000-7,000 c.f.s. and the Green River pumping in an additional 1,600 cfs river flows were exceptional for this social and educational experience thru one of North America’s last great, wild river canyons.

We’d like to thank our partners the O.A.R.S. Family of Companies and American Rivers in helping make this trip so special. Also Lighthawk and our pilots Dan Birch and Jack Dysart again for helping with our Yampa Basin flight over the 250 mile long Yampa River and adjoining landscapes of northwest Colorado.

This trip was an exceptional experience as we were blessed to once again have Tamara Naumann participate on the float. Her wealth of knowledge on everything Dinosaur and all things Yampa River helped us raise the awareness of the group about the important attributes that an unregulated Yampa River supports.

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Eric Kuhn from the Colorado River District discusses the Colorado River Compact at the confluence of the Yampa and Green Rivers in Echo Park.

We were also fortunate to have the owners of the Hell’s Canyon Ranch along (former Mantle Ranch) on this tour. It is great to see that these new owners are devoted to keeping this ranch intact and a historical cultural asset. Thank you for the tour.

This Yampa River Awareness Project has become a Friends of the Yampa signature event and somewhat of an institution in the Colorado water world. We are proud of making this happen on an annual basis and applaud all the participation and engagement brought to each and everyone on these YRAP trips from the participants and guests, the volunteer guides and staff who come along for the adventure. Thank you everyone for making this trip so special.

Affiliations who participated in this 2015 version of the Yampa River Awareness Project:

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The Tiger Wall and the tradition of kissing the streaks of Desert Varnish to pay heed to the river gods for safe passage thru Warm Springs Rapid
  • O.A.R.S. Family of Companies
  • American Rivers
  • Dinosaur National Monument
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Colorado River District
  • Friends of the Yampa
  • Yampa River System Legacy Project
  • Conservation Colorado
  • American Whitewater
  • Routt County Conservation District
  • Upper Yampa Watershed Group
  • Walton Family Foundation
  • Denver Water
  • Protect the Flows
  • Colorado Water Conservation Board member
  • Interbasin Compact Committee members
  • Colorado River Basin Roundtable members
  • Yampa/White/Green Basin Roundtable
  • Tri State Energy
  • Staff from Governor Hickenlooper’s office
  • High Country News
  • Aspen Journalism

Some direct media that came from this 2015 YRAP trip:

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Our 2015 Yampa River Tribe

2014 UPDATE: In early June 2014 we successfully organized our Yampa River Awareness Project (v.2014) with 25 participants from a wide range or water related organizations and river based advocacy groups. Once again we partnered with Don Hatch River Expeditions and the O.A.R.S. Family of Companies, along with American Rivers. This year we focused on “Next Steps” in protecting the Yampa River and where the idea of preserving the Yampa’s flows fits into the Governor’s Water Plan.

We were blessed to have a myriad of opinions, ideas and concerns that drove our riverside conversations while inspiring the group to work hard at educating and documenting the Yampa’s incredible attributes.

We also wish to thank Jack Dysart from Steamboat Springs and Dan Birch from the Colorado River District for helping with a Yampa River fly over in their plans the day before this event. Thanks you guys for your generosity and time in making the fly over happen.

Braden Gunem's image of our group engaging in conversation
Braden Gunem’s image of our group engaging in conversation

Affiliations who participated in our June 2014 YRAP float:

  • O.A.R.S. Family of Companies
  • American Rivers
  • Dinosaur National Monument
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Colorado Water Trust
  • Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District
  • The Wilderness Society
  • Colorado River District
  • Friends of the Yampa
  • Yampa River System Legacy Project
  • Conservation Colorado
  • Colorado Mountain College
  • Colorado Foundation for Water Education
  • Rig To Flip
  • American Whitewater
  • National Young Farmers’ Coalition
  • Western Resource Advocates
  • Paddling Life Magazine

Some direct media that came from this 2014 YRAP trip:

  • Colorado’s Yampa River – Free Flowing and Wild from the Flattops to the Green – Photography by John Fielder – Text by Patrick Tierney; this coffee table book stemmed from an idea that was struck up by John and Patrick whist on this YRAP trip. This book can be purchased here and is the most complete Yampa book to date.
YRAP 2014 Group
The 2014 Yampa River Awareness Project group shot.

2013 UPDATE, YRAP organized another June float trip down Yampa Canyon that launched on June 7th. With support from Don Hatch River Expeditions and the O.A.R.S. Family of Companies as well as American Rivers, we invited several water dignitaries, policy folks, freelance writers, filmakers and river advocates to educate and brainstorm ways to maintain the Yampa’s incredible attributes and it’s value of its wildness in today’s modern world. With the Yampa Basin now being a focus of the America’s Great Outdoors, this trip was a great venue to further the conversation of protecting this national treasure.

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Spring Bloom in the Canyon

Affiliations who participated in our June 2013 YRAP float:

  • O.A.R.S. Family of Companies
  • American Rivers
  • Colorado Water Conservation Board
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • National Parks Conservation Association
  • Colorado Water Turst
  • Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District
  • The Wilderness Society
  • Colorado River District
  • Friends of the Yampa
  • Yampa River System Legacy Project

Learn more about this trip via these press room links:

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