Weather, Water and Society on the Colorado River: CW3E Explores the Yampa River Basin

June 11, 2018

The Yampa River is one of the wildest remaining major tributaries of the Colorado River and supports a rich ecosystem, local agriculture and ranching, and a robust recreation industry. It also provides crucial water supplies to local stakeholders and locations as far removed as Arizona and Southern California. A multitude of environmental and societal needs influence water management and conservation decisions in the Yampa River, and are pertinent to other watersheds around the American West. Similarly, regional weather and climate extremes help shape the basin’s hydrology, environment, and water resources.

This June, CW3E travelled to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, for the Yampa Basin Workshop. This was a community-oriented event organized by CW3E and partners from Colorado Mountain College, Yampa Valley Sustainability Council, Friends of the Yampa, and Wyndham Resorts. During the Workshop, participants examined the Yampa River Basin through the lens of weather, environment, and culture. The workshop included talks by local experts, discussion panels, afternoon field learning, and a community event. After building a foundation on the region’s history and environment, we explored the various demands on the Yampa’s water, and learned how these needs are met and where challenges remain. This dialogue with the local community introduced graduate students, post-doctoral scholars, researchers, staff and faculty from CW3E to the Yampa Basin. Drawing from the community’s historical knowledge and expertise on the challenges and successes of conservation and use practices on the Yampa, the Workshop has prompted new research directions for CW3E that will support weather and water decision-making processes in the Colorado River Basin and California.

CW3E group photo on the Fetcher Ranch, June 7th, 2018. (Pictured left to right, Marty Ralph, Rachel Weihs, Lindsey Jasperse, Anna Wilson, Rob Hartman, Kara Voss, Douglas Alden, Meredith Fish, Brian Kawzenuk, Leah Campbell, Mike Sierks, Will Chapman, Ali Hamidi, Aneesh Subramanian, and Tamara Shulgina). Photo credit: Rachel Weihs

CW3E’s Anna Wilson chairs a panel discussion at the Yampa River Rendezvous at the Colorado Mountain College in Steamboat Springs, CO, June 5th, 2018. Pictured: Mike Meyers (National Weather Service), Jon Rutz (CW3E/NWS Western Region), Gannet Hallar (Storm Peak Lab, U. of Utah), Becky Bolinger (Colorado State University). Photo credit: Rachel Weihs

George Stanko (forefront) talks to the CW3E team on Stanko Ranch near the Yampa River, June 5th, 2018. Photo credit: Rachel Weihs