Yampa River Fund

yampa-valley-community-foundation-MARK SATKIEWICZ LEGACY FUND

More about the Yampa River Fund Endowment

The Yampa River Fund Endowment is a collaborative community-based organization dedicated to identifying and funding activities that protect the water supply, wildlife habitat, and recreational opportunities provided to us by the Yampa River.

The Yampa River Fund Endowment will invest in conservation and restoration activities that positively impact Yampa River flows to support the livelihoods of recreation outfitters and ranchers throughout the valley, and to ensure that a healthy, flowing Yampa River remains the thriving center of our communities for generations to come.

Your donation to Yampa River Fund Endowment will leave a legacy of health and resiliency to the Yampa River.



The Community Foundation facilitates collaboration across the Yampa Valley to protect and preserve treasured local assets. These resources benefit a broad representation of residents and visitors and enhance our quality of life in Northwest Colorado.

Launched in 2019, the Yampa River Fund addresses concerns about water security among ranchers, business owners and recreational users and ensures healthy wildlife habitat. Twenty organizations in Routt and Moffat Counties help govern this Nature Conservancy fund held at YVCF. The goal is to grow the fund to $4.75M within five years, creating a steady funding stream and enabling $200,000 to be granted annually to support conservation and restoration activities.

On September 19th, 2019 the Yampa River Fund (YRF) celebrated the launch of a recently created endowment fund. The fund is held by The Nature Conservancy at the Yampa Valley Community Foundation to help finance projects supporting conservation and restoration activities for the Yampa River and its tributaries. The celebration kicked off with a ribbon-cutting ceremony over the Yampa River Core Trail Bridge, followed by a public social event at Mountain Tap Brewery.

The YRF embodies collaboration between organizations and donors across the Yampa Valley to improve river health and protect the water supply for the benefit of agriculture, recreation and wildlife habitat, all of which rely on a healthy Yampa River. Over 20 organizations, including local governments in Routt and Moffat Counties, have signed on to help govern the fund.

Within six months of its launch, the YRF was gifted $1.75 million from an anonymous donor, received a match of $1 million from another anonymous donor, and was pledged $500,000 from Steamboat Resorts, demonstrating the broad community support for the Yampa River basin and acknowledging its importance in the region. The goal is to grow the fund to $4.75 million over the next five years, generating over $200,000 in grants every year for projects throughout the Yampa Valley, from the Flat Tops to the Mount Zirkel Wilderness and all the way to Dinosaur National Monument.

“The Yampa River Endowment Fund aims to address three areas of action,” Nancy Smith, external affairs director for the Nature Conservancy’s Colorado River Program, stated.

  • · Leasing water to boost critical river flow in dry years
  • · Restoration actions to improve river function and habitat
  • · Infrastructure improvements to enhance water security

The Yampa River Fund was created to help with the future planning of the Yampa Valley and its river systems. With the effects of climate change causing earlier snowmelt and more precipitation in the form of rain versus snow, peak river flow occurs earlier in the summer. This leaves less water available during summer for irrigation of hay meadows for livestock and for recreational use, as well as less and warmer water which damages fish and wildlife habitat. Water shortages across the Western U.S. impact nearby watersheds, with the possibility that local use of water could be limited due to a Colorado River Compact Call requiring Colorado to send water downstream.

The YRF will specifically direct money to NW Colorado river management plans. The goal of these plans is to: protect water users on the Yampa from curtailment, find ways to address water shortages, keep infrastructure up-to-date, and help provide funding for reservoir releases which, in fact, was the original thought behind creating the endowment fund. Providing a permanent funding source for water releases versus relying on private donors eliminates donor fatigue and creates a reliable source of future funding.

“This project, the river fund, is looking at ‘how do we find projects that are beneficial?’ and that taps into some of those core values of our ag producers,” said Michele Meyer, executive director of the Community Agriculture Alliance. “They care about the river. They care about the environment. They own this land. They want to see the river stay healthy for 100 more generations down the road.” She sees those values in other water users, too. “We all have that same core value that we want to take care of this river and see it remain healthy. That’s what’s going to make this successful.”


To donate to the Yampa River Fund Endowment by check:

Yampa Valley Community Foundation
PO Box 881869
Steamboat Springs, CO 80487

* Please make the check out to YVCF and note in the memo line that the check is for the Yampa River Fund Endowment

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