Report looks at health of Upper Yampa Watershed

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If you go

What: Upper Yampa River Watershed Group presents 2014 report to Routt County commissioners

When: 1 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Routt County Courthouse, 522 Lincoln Ave.

If you go

What: Yampa, White Green River Basin Roundtable meets

When: 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday

Where:Craig's Shadow Mountain Clubhouse, 1055 Moffat County Road 7, 0.9 miles north of the Holiday Inn of Craig

— The Routt County commissioners will get a first look Tuesday at the 2014 Upper Yampa River Watershed Report that takes into account the water quality, biodiversity and riparian zones along not just the river itself but also its tributaries, large and small.

The report was prepared with input from the local agricultural, recreation, fisheries, water management, industrial and government sectors. Jackie Brown, district manager of the Routt County Conservation District, said the release of the report is just a beginning, and the hope is that it will continue to include contributions from the broader public.

“We’ll have a Talking Green (with the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council) in late May, and the publishing process is planned to allow people to go to an interactive website in a way that they can click into some of this report. We want to know what more people could add” to the report, Brown said.

Her agency played a lead role in compiling and funding the report.

It’s important to understand, Brown said, that the Upper Yampa Watershed is not just the main stem of the Yampa River but takes in the hundreds of streams and rivers that feed into it.

“Absolutely, the tributaries are super important,” Brown said. “That’s where all of the water comes from.”

The Upper Yampa Watershed, as described in the report, drains 1,800 square miles, beginning with its headwaters and continuing to its confluence with Elkhead Creek near the county line. There, where it flows in Moffat County, it begins to take on its desert characteristics. Although the upper watershed is almost entirely contained within Routt County, there are small portions in Grand, Garfield, Jackson, Moffat and Rio Blanco counties.

It’s only a coincidence, Brown said, that the release of the report comes at the same time that the Yampa, White, Green Basin Roundtable is in the process of creating a draft of the larger basin implementation plan that will inform the creation of a new water plan for Colorado.

Tentatively, the Upper Yampa Watershed Report is expected to be attached to the basin implementation plan, Brown said.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

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