River Fund announces grant recipients

Craig Press (May 24, 2024)—Marking its fifth year of operation, the Yampa River Fund Steering Committee has announced its grant recipients for 2024.

Five grants totaling $204,125 were awarded for projects that benefit the river and its tributaries.

The group is providing funding that will help ensure additional flows are available in late summer from Stagecoach Reservoir as needed.

The group is also contributing to a floodplain planning project downstream of Steamboat Springs, and a bank stabilization and riparian restoration project in that area. Two other projects will improve irrigation diversion infrastructure while incorporating techniques to encourage environmental and recreational improvements.

“Word has gotten out and we are seeing a broad range of important projects applying for Yampa River Fund grants,” said Mike Robertson, Yampa River Fund manager for Friends of the Yampa. “We believe this critical funding source can help facilitate the types of projects that improve the health of the river for the benefit of us all.”

The group’s 2024 grant recipients are the Colorado Water Trust, Friends of the Yampa, Trout Unlimited and the Community Agriculture Alliance.

The Colorado Water Trust received a grant for its 2024 Yampa River Environmental Release Program. The trust has a 10-year contract with Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District to strategically release up to 5,100 acre-feet from Stagecoach Reservoir to benefit the environment and other water users.

Farther downstream on the Yampa River, the trust will also use some Yampa River Fund grant funding in coordination with funds from the Colorado River Water Conservation District to release up to 2,000 acre-feet from Elkhead Reservoir.

Friends of the Yampa received a grant for its project involving a feasibility study, modeling and planning for the Yampa River Habitat Connectivity in Morgan Bottom. This project will conduct planning to reconnect the Yampa River to its floodplain and improve terrestrial and aquatic habitat, beginning on the Yampavian Ranch and continuing westward. Specific activities include engaging landowners, conducting hydraulic modeling and developing a conceptual design for habitat connectivity in support of holistic riparian and aquatic health.

Trout Unlimited’s grant funding will go toward its Flanders Ranch Habitat Improvement Project, which focuses on bank stabilization and riparian restoration work on a 600-foot eroding bank of the Yampa River between Hayden and Steamboat Springs. Riparian vegetation will be planted on over an acre of land to help encourage revegetation of the disturbed site. This project will help the landowner retain valuable land from further erosion and improve water quality by reducing excess sediments in the river.

The Community Agriculture Alliance’s Nickell Diversion and Riparian Restoration project plans to install a permanent stop log diversion at the Nickell Ditch. This will also include riparian restoration just above the installed diversion, combining bank grading with tree planting and other techniques.

The Community Agriculture Alliance will also use grant funds to start the planning process and development of alternatives for the Duquette Ditch Diversion just downstream of Steamboat Springs. The project will also include riparian restoration on the centennial Stanko Ranch.

Jackie Brown, chair of the Yampa River Fund Board, hailed “another successful year” for the fund.

“Our board and steering committee continue to plan for how we can meet the dynamic needs of a basin facing a multitude of water challenges at a local level,” Brown said.

The Yampa River Fund was launched in September 2019 to provide a sustainable, voluntary funding source for the Yampa River to enhance water security and support a healthy, flowing river by enhancing critical low flows and maintaining or improving river function through a holistic approach to restoration of habitat.

The Fund is governed by a 21-member founding board representing local governments, community and statewide NGOs, businesses, water providers and irrigation districts.

More information on the Yampa River Fund can be found at YampaRiverfund.org.

Craig Press
Author: Ashley Dishman
Read the original article here.