Sixth Annual Yampa Basin Rendezvous Brings Together Community to Address Water Resilience

July, 17 2023

The 6th Annual Yampa Basin Rendezvous (YBR) conference was held June 1-2nd, providing a platform for leading experts, policymakers, non-profit organizations, and community stakeholders to address the pressing water resource challenges faced by the Yampa Basin region. The conference, held at Colorado Mountain College’s Steamboat Springs campus, was organized by the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes (CW3E), Colorado Mountain College, Yampa Valley Sustainability Council, Friends of the Yampa, the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District, River Network, Yampatika, and Steamboat Ski and Resort Corporation.

The conference theme, “Snows, Flows, and Drought: Managing for Western Water Resilience” aimed to foster collaboration, share knowledge, and promote innovative solutions to ensure sustainable water management practices in the Yampa Basin. The basin, located in northwest Colorado, is known for its unique water supply dynamics as one of the wildest remaining major tributaries of the Colorado River and the importance of its resources for various sectors, including agriculture, energy, and recreation.

YBR began with an inspiring welcome address by newly-elected Congressman Joe Neguse, U.S. Representative for Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District, focusing on the urgent need to adapt to changing climate patterns and the potential impacts on water availability in the region. Congressman Neguse highlighted the important role that the Yampa River plays in the greater Colorado River system and several recent pieces of legislation designed to protect the river system and those who rely on it.

Over the course of the conference, a series of panel discussions, field trips, a community keynote, and a poster session focused on critical topics including future climate projections, community engagement, ecosystem health, and adaptation. Participants engaged in lively discussions and shared cutting-edge research findings, technological advancements, and best practices from their respective fields.

YBR also facilitated valuable networking opportunities, enabling stakeholders to connect with experts and forge collaborations. Participants included representatives from federal and state agencies, local governments, tribal nations, non-profit organizations, academia, and industry sectors dependent on the Yampa Basin’s water resources.

A significant highlight of the YBR was the Community Keynote event co-hosted by YBR and Friends of the Yampa. The event was headlined by Erica Gies, Author of Water Always Wins, who inspired attendees with her keynote address on water resiliency strategies utilized by communities around the world. The event also featured Friends of the Yampa’s (FOTY) annual State of the Yampa address delivered by Kent Vertrees, FOTY board member and owner of Steamboat Powdercats.

YBR demonstrated the power of collective action and knowledge sharing in addressing water resource challenges. By fostering interdisciplinary dialogue, the event aimed to lay the foundation for a resilient future in the Yampa Basin, ensuring water security for generations to come.

As the conference drew to a close, participants departed with a renewed commitment to collaborate, innovate, and prioritize the sustainable management of the Yampa Basin’s precious water resources. With the knowledge and connections gained from the YBR conference, stakeholders are now better equipped to navigate the complex water challenges ahead and develop effective strategies for a thriving future utilizing the Yampa Basin as a model for western water resources.