Yampa River Botanic Park is a unique experiment in public/private development and maintenance of a public botanical facility. While the land was purchased privately, the land was donated to the city of Steamboat Springs in 1992 by park founders Bob and Audrey Enever. It is managed by a volunteer association, set up by Steamboat Springs city ordinance. Gayle Lehman, the Park Supervisor for 20 years, says that what the park truly brings to the mountain community is “a place to come for serenity, and appreciate the birds, flowers trees plants and animals of our amazing Yampa River Basin.”
With 5 acres of maintained grounds, and 63 individual gardens, the park has a large diversity of flora, representing many different zones. Though primarily made up of perennial plants and flowers, the park also boasts a wide array of annuals. Over the course of more than 20 years of operation, the park has become a destination for volunteers, whether permanent residents of Steamboat Springs, or temporary visitors and tourists.
Volunteers are integral to the longevity of Yampa River Botanic Park, starting at the very top with the all-volunteer board of directors, and continuing on to the many volunteers who help maintain, weed, and plant the various gardens. Founder Bob Enenver encourages interested volunteers of all types to come to the park and help out, especially on the group gardening days each Wednesday during the growing season.
“We call our Wednesday morning volunteer time ‘social gardening’ because part of the idea is to meet other people, and so this is very useful for people who come to town and want to get involved,” Enever says. He continued, “The public have really made it so much more than we originally dreamed.”
Jeff Morehead lives adjacent to the park, and has been volunteering since day one. In fact, “I’ve been a volunteer here since before the park was even a park.” Morehead says all types of volunteers are needed, because “there’s so many activities, depending on your ability level - we do love weed pullers.”
In addition to the Wednesday “social gardening” group, volunteers maintain, plant, prune, and attend to soil improvements in the park. However, Lehman says, “whatever your skill set, we have a spot for you.”
For more information about Yampa River Botanic Park, click here.
To volunteer, click here.