Extreme drought on Western Slope is real Email
Written by Kate Brocata   
Tuesday, November 22, 2022 04:00 AM

Colorado Green Now

How Yampa Valley reshapes local landscaping
By Kate Brocata

Residents of the arid mountain West in the Yampa Valley, it’s no secret that we are facing devastating impacts caused by a historically unprecedented 23-year drought. Despite a strong monsoon season that brought relief to much of our region, we are far from drought recovery.

Routt County, home to Steamboat Ski Resort, sits at the headwaters of the Colorado River with the Yampa River at the heart of our communities. However, being at the headwaters doesn’t mean the region is free from drought impacts. Agricultural producers suffered 70-90% reduction in hay and alfalfa yields in 2021 due to extended drought. For the past three summers, the Yampa River was closed to recreational uses due to high stream temperatures caused by low flows. River closures and use restrictions place burdens on the region’s already economically strained recreation and tourism industries.

Aridification is real in Yampa Valley
In recognition that water resources in the Yampa Valley are changing as the region grows hotter and drier — commonly referred to as aridification — nonprofit Yampa Valley Sustainability Council (YVSC) is working with municipalities and water districts to increase water conservation education and actions. Located in Steamboat Springs, YVSC’s mission is to serve as a leader, resource and catalyst for building a sustainable and resilient Yampa Valley.

Educating the public
YVSC launched its first residential water conservation program in 2021 — the Sustaining Water program — with the City of Steamboat Springs and Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District, and support from Craig-Scheckman Family Foundation – to increase public understanding of the impact of reduced outdoor water use to sustain water in the Yampa Valley. In 2023 — next year — YVSC will work to connect with the smaller municipalities and water managers in Routt and Moffat counties to further expand water conservation education within our rural communities. Read the full article in Colorado Green.

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