City: Stay out of the Yampa

— The city of Steamboat Springs is asking tubers and other river users to stay out of the Yampa River until water levels increase.

River flows have dropped to 65 cubic feet per second, which is lower than the 85 cfs recommended as the threshold for tubing, Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Director Chris Wilson said. The river's dissolved oxygen content has been above the recommended levels and the water temperature has been hovering around the cutoff point, Wilson said.

All three factors -- flow, oxygen content and temperature -- are used to assess the health of the river and the effect humans have on its ecology.

"People in some areas create levels of stress that really aren't healthy for the environment," Wilson said.

On Thursday, commercial river companies agreed to suspend river activities until the river returns to acceptable levels.

The city is asking that tubers, fishermen and those who like to swim in the river's play holes respect the request to stay out. Because fishing presents a less intense use, Wilson said fishermen are less of a concern than tubers and swimmers.

"Fishing isn't nearly as much of a concern because the numbers aren't as high," Wilson said. "In play holes, people congregate and it is also a holding area for fish when water gets this low."

The water levels are so low, Wilson said, that people could barely tube anyway.

The river's water level has been good this season, Wilson said, and tubing went later into the season than in previous years.

"If we see more rain, we could pull back the suspension, but typically ... once it hits this area, it usually doesn't come back up," Wilson said.

The city will post suspension notices at popular river access points.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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