Summer Drought Again Closes The Yampa River Through Steamboat

<p>Hart Van Denburg/CPR News</p>
<p>The Yampa River in Steamboat Springs, August, 2018.</p>
Photo: Yampa River, Steamboat Springs, Summer
The Yampa River in Steamboat Springs, August, 2018.

The Yampa River in northwestern Colorado has closed again. Ongoing drought has drastically reduced water levels.

Colorado Park and Wildlife instituted restrictions on commercial and public activity on the Yampa River this week. An earlier closure ended just 10 days previously.

Commercial tubing companies have been instructed to suspend operations. Officials are requesting that public river users, including tubers, swimmers and anglers, adhere to the “voluntary closure” and stay out of the river.

Frequent closures this summer have river recreation companies worried, Backdoor Sports owner Pete Van De Carr said.

"I want my sons to be able to enjoy the wonderful life that I have and they're going to be struggling big time if we don't figure out how to augment our flows or keep water in our river,” Van De Carr.

Van De Carr lost more than $80,000 in the last commercial closure. He's operated his outdoor adventure company in Steamboat Springs for over 30 years and is now driving with Uber to make some extra money. He has seen closures like this before and is financially prepared — but is concerned about new businesses on the Yampa.

“I do want more businesses on the river,” Van De Carr said. “I think tourism is one of the salvations of our economy.”

The river has been battling low flows all season.

At this time of year, the Yampa typically flows at over 100 cubic feet per second, according to Brad Setter with Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation. Levels are down to 66 cfs today.

Water levels, oxygen levels and water temperature all determine when restrictions are necessary. All three affect the safety of fish populations.

Interim Parks and Recreation director Craig Robinson said he doesn't expect the closure to be lifted any time soon.