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In the Yampa River, Extra Flow Makes for Happier Fish

Back in late June 2012, the Yampa River – a beautiful Colorado River tributary that runs through the heart of Steamboat Springs, Colorado – was flowing at 5 percent of normal. Both the native whitefish population and the recreational trout fishery were threatened due to the river’s low levels of oxygen and its warmer temperatures....

Back in late June 2012, the Yampa River – a beautiful Colorado River tributary that runs through the heart of Steamboat Springs, Colorado – was flowing at 5 percent of normal.

Both the native whitefish population and the recreational trout fishery were threatened due to the river’s low levels of oxygen and its warmer temperatures.

Besides the risks to fish, the low flows had caused tubing and kayaking businesses to shut down, hurting the local economy.

That summer, Change the Course partnered with the Colorado Water Trust to execute a water lease to lift flows to healthier levels, helping save the fish and allowing river-based businesses to open up again.

Take a look at this 30-second video to see what a difference a little more flow can make.

Read the whole story here; watch the longer video here.

And if you’re not yet part of our Change the Course community – now 42,000 strong and growing – please join us.  Check out our website or text “River” to 77177.

Thanks to our sponsors, for every free pledge, we return 1,000 gallons to a depleted part of the Colorado River Basin.

Working together, we can change the course of our water future and create healthier rivers, happier fish, and a better planet.

Special thanks to Silk and Coca-Cola, Charter Sponsors for Change the Course. Additional funding generously provided by the Walton Family Foundation.

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Meet the Author

Sandra Postel
Sandra Postel is director of the Global Water Policy Project and author of Replenish: The Virtuous Cycle of Water and Prosperity. From 2009-2015, she served as Freshwater Fellow of the National Geographic Society. Sandra is also co-creator of Change the Course, the national water stewardship initiative awarded the 2017 US Water Prize for restoring billions of gallons of water to depleted rivers and wetlands. The recipient of several honorary degrees, she works to bridge science, policy, and practice to promote innovative ways of securing water to meet both human and ecosystem needs.