Steamboat Pilot: Yampa River Fund announces grants, transfer of management

Steamboat Pilot, May 17, 2022

The Yampa River Fund, now in its third year of operation, announced three grant recipients for 2022 working toward the overall goal of creating a healthier future for the Yampa River as a vital component of Northwest Colorado’s lifestyle and economy.

This year, $203,612 was awarded for projects that benefit the Yampa River and its tributaries and focus on enhanced flows to bolster river levels and to lower temperatures during the driest times in the summer.

“The YRF Steering Committee sees enhanced flows as critical again this year to keep the river flowing and benefit all water users,” Andy Baur, Yampa River Fund manager for The Nature Conservancy, said in a media release.

One grantee is the City of Craig for the Yampa River Corridor Project to help establish a water park and an upgraded associated water diversion upstream of Loudy-Simpson Park along the Yampa River in Craig. The funding will go toward the construction phase to replace an existing, degraded municipal water diversion dam. Implementation will promote safer boater passage and create enhanced aquatic and riparian habitat and fish passage. The project will help to create a whitewater park recreational asset for Craig available for public use in 2024.

Another grant was awarded to the Yampa River Environmental Release Program and the Colorado Water Trust to contract with the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District and the Colorado River Water Conservation District to store and strategically release water from Stagecoach and Elkhead reservoirs as needed this summer.

A third grant award will assist with the 2022 Elkhead Reservoir Release Project through the Colorado River Conservation District. In 2021, the river district released 1,500 acre-feet of water made available through the district’s Community Funding Partnership Yampa River Flow pilot program. This year’s grant will fund the continued effort to benefit consumptive and in-channel uses during low flow periods.

“With limited funds available, the YRF Steering Committee felt that flow releases are an important priority this year. In addition, we are excited to be able to continue to support the pivotal Craig water park and diversion project,” said Jackie Brown, chair of the Yampa River Fund Board, in a media release.

Earlier this month, the Yampa River Fund board announced that management of the fund will transition this fall from The Nature Conservancy to local nonprofit Friends of the Yampa.

The Yampa River Fund launched in 2019, supported by a basin-wide community coalition, to provide sustainable funding for projects that benefit the health of the river and its tributaries. From the outset, once the fund was operational, the intention of organizers was to shift the management to a local entity.

Fundraising efforts have reached more than $5 million for the Yampa River Fund endowment that is housed by the Yampa Valley Community Foundation. So far, the fund has awarded more than $603,000 to 14 projects that support enhanced flows, river restoration and improved infrastructure throughout the Yampa River basin from Stagecoach Reservoir through the City of Steamboat, the City of Craig and downstream to Maybell.

More information on the Yampa River Fund:

Steamboat Pilot
Suzie Romig 
Original Article