Yampa River reopens to recreation after one of shortest tubing seasons in years | CraigDailyPress.com

Yampa River reopens to recreation after one of shortest tubing seasons in years

Nicole Miller/Steamboat Pilot & Today

The Yampa River reopened to recreation Thursday after a 38-day tubing season — one of the shortest in the past 10 years.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Thanks to recent precipitation and lower temperatures, the voluntary recreation closure on the Yampa River through downtown Steamboat Springs has been lifted, according to a Thursday news release.

"The Yampa River has seen its share of significant stresses this year,” Parks, Open Space and Trails Manager Craig Robinson was quoted as saying in a news release.

The closure, which was in place from Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Area to city limits on the west end of town, was in effect throughout most of summer.

After its second earliest start to tubing season in the past 10 years, the river closed to recreation July 9. It reopened briefly from Aug. 17 to 27 after a water release from Stagecoach Reservoir boosted flows through town.

A closure is called under three conditions:

  • Flows fall beneath 85 cubic feet per second
  • The river reaches water temperatures of more than 75 degrees for two consecutive days
  • The level of dissolved oxygen in the water falls beneath a certain threshold

Those river health guidelines left only 38 days for commercial tubing operations, and flows during the 11-day opening in August were not ideal for tubing.

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Commercial tubing operator Peter Van De Carr, who owns Backdoor Sports, was confused why restrictions were lifted when the river was flowing at 79.5 cfs Thursday morning, below the threshold.

"I don't understand why the restrictions were lifted," Van De Carr said. "I don't know what they're thinking."

Van De Carr also was frustrated by about a week this summer when he says the river should have reopened but didn't.

"I understand why we have those criteria, and I'm very strict in adhering to them," he said. "It's just so frustrating as somebody who's tried to go by the rules here. What I hope, more than anything, is that any decisions we make are based on science."

Van De Carr said if he has another summer like this, it could put him out of business. He plans to talk with Steamboat Springs City Council members at Friday's Coffee With Council event.

To reach Nicole Miller, call 970-871-4206, email nmiller@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @millerna.