Yampa River Fund richer thanks to forthcoming Tri-State donations
Editor’s note: This report has been corrected to reflect Ben Beall is the vice president of the non-profit Friends of the Yampa.
Tri-State Generation & Transmission announced Thursday it will donate $60,000 to the Yampa River Fund, a new endowment with purpose is to pay for Yampa River improvement projects up and down the valley.
Rich Thompson, manager of Craig Station, announced the donations Thursday night at an event held at Yampa Valley Brewing’s Barrel Cathedral in Craig.
“Starting this year, we will contribute $20,000 per year through 2021,” Thomspon said to a crowd of at least 30. “These funds will be matched which will give us about a $120,000 impact on the fund.”
In a news release sent during the event, Tri-State said funds will be matched by an anonymous donor.
“Tri-State is enthusiastic to announce our contribution to and participation in the Yampa River Fund,” said Duane Highley, Tri-State’s chief executive officer, in the news release. “Tri-State has been an active steward of a healthy Yampa River for decades, through participation in the Yampa-White-Green Basin Roundtable and adherence to management best practices. We are delighted to further our support of this important resource for the communities and agriculture that rely on it, and for the river environment itself.”
Andy Baur, who manages the Yampa River Fund, said Tri-State has been actively involved in the fund since it began.
“Tri-State has been engaged in the Yampa River Fund since its inception,” Baur said. “We are thrilled the cooperative has gone to the next level of support providing critical financial resources to bolster the Fund and the important projects it will produce. Tri-State is a key partner and great neighbor to the Yampa River.”
Both the city of Craig and Moffat County are signatories to the fund, meaning they get to each appoint someone to sit on the fund’s steering committee. Starting in February, the committee will release its application and soon will decide which projects will be funded.
Currently, Dave Pike, the city’s Parks and Recreation director, will be on the steering committee on behalf of the city while rancher Tom Gray will represent Moffat County.
“The Yampa River Fund will invest in conservation and recreation activities that positively impact the Yampa River flows,” Commissioner Ray Beck said at the brewery event Thursday. “It will support livelihoods and recreation to ensure a healthy, flowing Yampa River remains a thriving center of our community for generations to come. We all believe the Yampa River is a terrific asset for economic development and the Yampa Fund will be an important way to leverage funding to make the most out of that resource we have in our own backyard.”
Craig Mayor Jarrod Ogden was on hand to show his support Thursday night.
“I’m just excited for this to move forward and to see what kind of projects come from this,” Ogden said. “We all understand the economic uncertainty going forward. I think our river is one of the most under-utilized resources we have. Moving forward, I hope to see great things out of this.”
Ben Beall, vice president of the non-profit Friends of the Yampa, said the fund is made up entirely of donations.
“This fund relies on contributions. I want to be very clear about that,” Bell said. “This fund does not have tax dollars or money coming from the sky. The idea of the fund, the goal is by the end of 2021 to raise about $4 million into this fund. It takes folks like all of us, and organizations across the valley to contribute to the fund to fund projects throughout the valley … It does take all of us contributing our hard earned dollars into the fund in order for it to be successful.”
On Friday, Baur said the fund has surpassed $3 million.
“The endowment is up to about $3.6 million,” Baur said. “But we won’t be able to tap into those funds for about another year … We hope to have about $200,000 to spend in the first year.”
There are currently at least 21 signatories to the fund with 17 members currently sitting on the fund’s steering committee — a consortium of environmental, agricultural, recreational, governmental, and other business interests across the Yampa Valley.