Friends of the Yampa: Let’s work together for our lands, rivers | CraigDailyPress.com

Friends of the Yampa: Let’s work together for our lands, rivers

Friends of the Yampa is dedicated to the protection and enhancement of the recreational and environmental integrity of the Yampa River and its tributaries through stewardship, advocacy, education and partnerships.

There is a concerning level of divisiveness in today's political climate. Recently, that divisiveness has come to the doorstep of our nation's public lands. We at Friends of the Yampa are concerned about the potential polarization of the conversation regarding public lands. We have written before of the importance of the Yampa River to our community, not only from an environmental and recreational standpoint, but also from an economic perspective. For example, according to a study by the National Park Service, Dinosaur National Monument generated more than $20 million for surrounding communities and supported 244 local jobs in 2016.

The Yampa River flows along and through many different types of public lands, whether those are owned and managed by towns, counties, the state or the federal government. These public lands have distinct and sometimes complex management structures. Each serves varied recreational, agricultural, ecological, mineral and historic purposes. The lands provide for our community and may be our most precious resource as we consider the quality of life and economic future in the Yampa Valley.

Friends of the Yampa works closely with local public lands managers in an effort to consider the Yampa River in the management of these vital lands. As we have now completed the A-wave/Toots river features project with the support of the city of Steamboat Springs, Friends of the Yampa is spearheading a number of new and exciting projects basin-wide. In collaboration with the Bureau of Land Management and Colorado State Parks, we will be leading volunteer trips this spring in Little Yampa Canyon with the military veterans group, Mission Continues, to enhance the opportunities for multi-day float trips just downstream of Craig.

We will again lead the Yampa River Awareness Project in Dinosaur National Monument to bring community, state and national exposure to the river as it runs through the monument.

We have begun a partnership with the Yampa River Leafy Spurge Project to collaborate with private landowners and county, state and federal agencies to combat an expansive infestation of Leafy Spurge that poses a critical threat to agricultural and riparian lands downstream of Hayden and through Moffat County.

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The city of Craig, at the encouragement of the Parrotheads and via funding partnerships with Friends of the Yampa and the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, is considering an exciting project near the intake to the city's water treatment plant to construct an in-stream river feature that has the potential to become a regional destination for kayakers, tubers, stand up paddle boarders and rafters.

None of this would be possible without the generous support of the community and our partners. These efforts represent exciting opportunities for the economic and environmental vitality of the Yampa Valley. The Yampa River is a centerpiece to how we are vitally linked together. We look forward to strengthening relationships basin-wide in 2018 and beyond.

We encourage those who care about the Yampa River to become involved as a volunteer or supporter. Our meetings are held the first Wednesday of each month at Colorado Mountain College in Steamboat Springs. Stay up to date on all the latest happenings by visiting our website, friendsoftheyampa.com, and also visit us on Facebook to stay current on our events and opportunities to volunteer.

Pray for snow, and see you on the river!

Friends of the Yampa board of directors