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Yampa River Found Suitable for Wild and Scenic River Designation (CO)

Posted: 09/01/2010
by Nathan Fey

Craig, Colorado - The US Bureau of Land Management has released the Proposed Resource Management Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Little Snake Field Office (LSFO) in Northwestern Colorado. The Plan provides a framework to guide subsequent management decisions on approximately 1.3 million acres of BLM-administered public lands and an additional 1.1 million acres of subsurface mineral estate administered by the LSFO in Moffat, Routt, and Rio Blanco counties.


Major issues addressed in the Proposed Plan include energy and mineral development, special management areas such as lands with wilderness character and Wild and Scenic Rivers, transportation and travel management, and wildlife habitat - particularly for sage grouse and elk.


As part of the plan revision process, the BLM inventoried all potentially eligible Wild and Scenic segments within the planning area. BLM also reconsidered the eligibility and classification findings from the 1991 preliminary Wild and Scenic River Eligibility Study. Based on this review the BLM has established WSR eligibility determinations for three segments of the Yampa River, as well as Beaver Creek and Vermillion Creek. Of these, only 22 miles of the Yampa River are being recommended for inclusion into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, including the segments from Williams Fork to Milk Creek, Milk Creek to Duffy Tunnel, and Cross Mountain Canyon pictured here.


Local governments and landowners have commented that BLM cannot reliably manage the Yampa River for recreational values because of private land ownership along the river. Noting that in some locations private land exists on both sides of the river, Moffat County states that private landowners can choose to prevent private passage down the river and that Colorado has no statute that guarantees public access to rivers that flow through private lands. In response, BLM notes that Colorado case law allows paddlers too float on rivers that pass over private property, as long as the users do not touch the privately owned bed or banks of the river.


Colorado has only one designated Wild and Scenic River, the Cache la Poudre.  The free-flowing Yampa is an iconic western River deserving of protection, and American Whitewater encourages paddlers to support the WSR Suitability determination.


The Proposed Plan in available for public comment until September 13, 2010. Information about the protest period is available on the BLM's website, or by calling (970) 826-5000.

Colorado Stewardship Director
Nathan Fey
1601 Longs Peak Ave.
Longmont, CO 80501
Phone: 303-859-8601

Associated Projects

Yampa River (CO)
AW is working to preserve the free-flowing character of the Yampa River, while multiple interests set their sights on the Yampa as a new source for clean, high quality water supplies for Oil and Gas d

Associated Rivers

Yampa CO