Upgrading the river

Study would examine fishing holes, kayak spots in Yampa to ensure health

City officials are seeking a consultant to ensure that manmade structures such as kayak parks and fishing spots are not eroding the Yampa River's health.

Craig Robinson, open space supervisor for the city's Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department, said Monday that such a consultant is needed because the river in and around Steamboat Springs contains many structures -- most often, boulders placed in the river to alter flows -- that have not been looked at for years.

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"Various groups have done improvements, and technology has changed over time," Robinson said. "A lot of these improvements were done a long time ago."

As run-off season peaks in coming weeks, the Charlie's Hole and D-Hole kayaking features will again become crowded with boaters. But Robinson said those two locations, near or slightly downstream from Bud Werner Memorial Library, are relatively new features that are not the primary cause of concern. The impacts of older structures, such as fishing spots along River Road near Emerald Park, are more unknown, Robinson said. Erosion, impacts to riparian habitats and flow rates that could affect trout and other fish will be the focus of the study, he added.

"Health of the river is the number-one priority, and recreation is a secondary aspect that we're hoping to get along with that," Robinson said. "What we're looking for is a master plan for the river."

The potential installation of new features on the river also likely will be part of the study. Robinson said that while a cost or timetable has not yet been set, the city hopes to receive all applications by May 21.

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