STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. - Extremely low flows and rising water temperatures have prompted Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials to implement a voluntary closure to all fishing in the Steamboat Springs section of the Yampa River. The closure will be in effect from the upstream boundary of the Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Area downstream through the city limits of Steamboat Springs, and anglers are asked to avoid this area.
Minimal spring snowmelt and lack of significant rain so far this year has led to very low flows and high water temperatures for many rivers and streams throughout the state. In Steamboat Springs, wildlife managers observed Yampa River water temperatures at 71 degrees on June 20 and the current flow of 81 cubic feet per second is well below the minimum 85 cfs established to trigger the voluntary closure.
In these conditions, already severely stressed fish weakened by warm waters often die when caught, even if they are quickly released back into the water.
"There appears to be little chance of precipitation adding measureable volume to the stream flow in the immediate future," said Senior Aquatic Biologist Sherman Hebein. "In this section of the Yampa River, median historical flows for this date are slightly over 1400 cfs, and the most current reading is well below that rate."
Diligent monitoring of rivers across western Colorado has been ongoing this year due to concerns about little to no moisture so far, and if current conditions continue, other rivers may see similar voluntary closures this summer.
"We ask the public for their cooperation to help us preserve our state's fisheries," said Northwest Regional Manager Ron Velarde. "We do not know how long this voluntary closure will remain in effect, but as soon as conditions are once again favorable, we will lift it and the public can once again enjoy world-class fishing in the Yampa River."
Velarde stresses that the Yampa River closure is voluntary for now and anglers are asked to avoid fishing there during the hottest part of the day, or preferably, to fish in other areas. However, if conditions worsen and several criteria established by regulation are met, a strict emergency closure enforced by law may become necessary.
For more information about the voluntary closure, please contact the Colorado Parks and Wildlife office in Steamboat Springs at: 970-870-2197
For more information about fishing in places not affected by extremely low flows, please visit: http://wildlife.state.co.us/Fishing/Pages/Fishing.aspx
Colorado Parks and Wildlife was created by the merger of Colorado State Parks and the Colorado Division of Wildlife, two nationally recognized leaders in conservation, outdoor recreation and wildlife management. Colorado Parks and Wildlife manages 42 state parks, all of Colorado's wildlife, more than 300 state wildlife areas and a host of recreational programs.
To learn more about Colorado's state parks, please see: http://www.parks.state.co.us
To learn more about Colorado's wildlife programs, please see: http://wildlife.state.co.us
####For more information about Division of Wildlife go to: http://wildlife.state.co.us.