Going with the flow: Moffat County Tourism Association wants to revamp section of Yampa River

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— More kayakers may want to check out Craig if resident Robert Schenck and the Moffat County Tourism Association get their way.

Schenck came to the MCTA with a plan to revamp the section of the Yampa River that extends from Loudy-Simpson Park to Pebble Beach so that it will appeal to kayakers and floaters.

“I am a kayaker, and to get through most of the decent rivers at the beginner to intermediate level, you have to travel pretty far,” he said. “The only other places in Moffat County are a little scary. (While) kayaking from Pebble Beach to Loudy-Simpson Park, (I) realized that with a little effort, we could make it a little more fun.”

MCTA Director Melody Villard said she wants to attract the sort of river tourism that Steamboat Springs does in the summer.

“Right now, anyone can go out there and go to those public places put in and take out without any problems,” she said. “We’re just creating a little more interest on the river, a little more fun.”

First, the MCTA had to get approval from Moffat County and the city of Craig to move forward with the project because the section of the river falls in their properties. The Board of County Commissioners and Craig City Council said they supported the idea.

The MCTA still has a long road ahead.

“Now, the main challenge is going to be funding. The very first two phases of this are going to be repairs to the road and the beach area,” Schenck said.

Labor, equipment and resources for the repairs are going to cost money. As a result, the MCTA and Schenck will work together to apply for grants. The first phase includes repairs to the roads that lead to the launch spots.

“The first stage would be fixing road fix up the road and create better parking,” Villard said.

Then they can move forward with the river: adding boulders to change the flow to create more rapids that would be suitable for beginner kayakers and lazy Sunday tubers.

“What it would do would create different flow at the river,” Villard said. “So during low flow you wouldn’t have as much exposed. But it would also create some pools for the kayakers.”

They’ll need to work with the Army Corps of Engineers to make any changes to water flow in the river.

This will be a long project regardless, Villard said, maybe even several years before it fits the vision the MCTA has now.

However long it takes, Schenck is excited to see it through to fruition.

“I envision a section of the river that will have three different beaches and sitting areas and then some man-made rapids on the river to make it a little more exciting,” he said. “Tubers will have a good opportunity to float and be lazy, and it also will give the kayakers a chance to get better and work on their skills.”

Money is tight at the county and the city, so Villard did not ask them for money. Instead, she hopes to fund the project via grants and donations, she said.

“If anybody is willing to donate time or equipment, call me, please,” Schenck said.

The MCTA and Schenck plan on starting the first phases of the project after the snow melts.

Contact Erin Fenner at 970-875-1794 or efenner@CraigDailyPress.com.

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