Yampa River Health Assessment and Streamflow Management Plan

The Yampa River Health Assessment and Streamflow Management Plan identifies a long-term strategy for protecting and improving the health and resiliency of the Yampa River near Steamboat Springs. Warming air temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and increasing demand for water from the Yampa River are emerging threats to our valley’s most treasured resource. This plan provides the community of Steamboat Springs with an executable implementation strategy and a scientifically-based and stakeholder-driven foundation for future planning, decision-making, and negotiation for the management of the Yampa River.

River Sunset

City Council unanimously adopted the Yampa River Streamflow Management Plan on August 28, 2018 demonstrating the City government’s commitment to the Plan’s implementation and long-term success. However, the footprint of the municipal boundary is just 1.5 percent of the total square miles of the watershed contributing to the Steamboat reach of the Yampa River. River health in this reach is affected by many factors beyond the City’s scope and authority. Therefore, partnerships are essential to achieving the goals and objectives laid out here. The implementation strategy is designed to be a shared responsibility, dependent upon the collaboration and commitment of many entities to protecting the health and resiliency of the Yampa River system.

Community Engagement

The planning process involved the participation of a wide range of stakeholders and the public with the intent to understand diverse interests and develop community-supported solutions. Community engagement included an Advisory Committee that met throughout the process, outreach to multiple stakeholder groups, and community workshops.

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The Advisory Committee was made up of representatives of the following agencies and organizations:

  • City of Steamboat Springs Parks & Recreation
  • City of Steamboat Springs Public Works
  • Routt County Environmental Health
  • Colorado Parks and Wildlife
  • Colorado Water Trust
  • Community Agriculture Alliance
  • Trout Unlimited – Colorado Water Project
  • Yampa Valley Fly Fishers
  • Friends of the Yampa
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Upper Yampa Watershed Group
  • Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District

Yampa River Health Assessment

A comprehensive assessment evaluated the core drivers of Yampa River health represented by 11 variables of river function (e.g., flow regime, water quality, riparian condition) and developed a “report card” for river reaches from the Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Area to the City Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Yampa River

Management Objectives

The plan identifies eight management objectives to serve as specific, measurable outcomes to help achieve the overall plan goals. Each objective includes monitoring indicators and targets for the desired future conditions.

Plan Implementation 

The community prioritized 15 actions to focus on initiating over the next two years.  The priority actions include specific projects, such as a riparian revegetation program, and actions to improve foundational capabilities for long-term funding and decision–making, such as establishing a Yampa River Water Fund and an interdisciplinary City “stream team” to review potential projects that affect river health.

ReTree

ReTree event in Steamboat Springs. Photo: Yampa Valley Sustainability Council

Partners and Funding

Several partners contributed funding to make this project possible. The Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) awarded the City a Watershed Restoration Grant to cover almost half of the project cost. The Yampa/White/Green Basin Roundtable supports the project through Water Supply Reserve Account funding (also from CWCB). The City of Steamboat Springs contributed cash and in-kind match. Routt County and Yampa Valley Fly Fishers also helped to fund the project.

Project Funding

Yampa River 5th Street Monitoring Site

Real-Time Flows & Temperatures

USGS Current Conditions for USGS

Project Contact

Kelly Romero-Heaney, Water Resources Manager
City of Steamboat Springs
Email Kelly Romero-Heaney
970)-871-8205; Fax: 970-879-8851
PO Box 775088: 137 10th Street
Steamboat Springs, Colorado 80477-5088

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