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Help For the Yampa: Lease Could Boost River Flows this Summer

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An agreement among conservation groups and water agencies may soon boost anemic stream flows along the Yampa River in Steamboat Springs.

The agreement calls for 4,000 acre-feet of water to be gradually released downstream from Stagecoach Reservoir. The plan aims to protect the river during the dry season, which runs from July first through mid-September.

Amy Beatie is Executive Director of the nonprofit Colorado Water Trust, which will spend about $140,000 to lease the water.

“The role we played was basically like the role of matchmaker – where we let people know we were interested in facilitating leases this summer. We set the Upper Yampa district up and negotiated the lease, and are putting the water rights into the state’s program – but we are paying.”

Beatie says this is the first-ever implementation of a 2003 statute to protect Colorado’s rivers in times of drought.

An article in Steamboat Today notes that levels on the Yampa have been down significantly this year, prompting officials to restrict recreational use a month earlier than usual. Wildlife officials have also called for a voluntary fishing ban.

Beatie says the releases won’t begin until a 15-day public comment period has ended. The Colorado Water Trust has several other potential water leasesin the works for this dry summer.

Read more from Bob Berwyn in the Summit County Voice here.

As the host of KUNC’s new program and podcast In the NoCo, I work closely with our producers and reporters to bring context and diverse perspectives to the important issues of the day. Northern Colorado is such a diverse and growing region, brimming with history, culture, music, education, civic engagement, and amazing outdoor recreation. I love finding the stories and voices that reflect what makes NoCo such an extraordinary place to live.
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