Yampa Basin Rendezvous

Sharing knowledge regarding climate variability in the Yampa River Basin

In 2018, Yampa Valley Sustainability Council partnered with the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes (CW3E), Colorado Mountain College (CMC), Friends of The Yampa, and Steamboat Resorts, to co-organize the Yampa Basin Rendezvous (YBR).

The conference is highly collaborative, science-based, and focuses on water and weather in the Yampa River Basin.

The event is now in its fourth year and provides an opportunity to explore relevant research and foster discussions in the Yampa River Basin to help inform management decisions and build collaboration.

For more information, contact madison@yvsc.org.

YBR Mission

The YBR strives to be an opportunity for reflection, communication, appreciation, and collaborative, interactive learning about the Yampa Basin ecosystems, environment, weather, climate, people, and culture and their intersections, for members of the Yampa Basin community as well as all the communities downstream who rely on the Yampa’s water.

YBR

Goals

Connect students, researchers, institutions, and community members who live and work in the Yampa River Basin to share knowledge regarding climate variability and change that has impacts on the environment, people and the economy. Build community and encourage collaborative problem-solving and planning, and provide an opportunity for citizens and visitors to be informed about the state of the Yampa Basin and the people and plans in place and in process to protect it.

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2021 Conference

The 2021 conference A Dialogue on Drought, Water Availability and Conservation will be conducted in person on September 8-10, and options for virtual participation will be provided when possible. Participants will examine the Yampa River Basin with a focus on drought and conservation. We will explore the impacts of drought in the Yampa River basin, science behind the projected changes in water availability and its effects on resource management and water conservation. The purpose statement for this year’s conference can be found here. Registration will be available closer to the date.

2020 Conference

The conference transitioned to a virtual webinar series in 2020 and focused on the theme of Measuring and Managing Seasonal Variability. Participants examined the Yampa River Basin with a focus on seasonal variability. The series explored the science behind projected changes in precipitation and temperature patterns and their effects on resource management, how we monitor and measure these changes, and whether or not our existing systems are capable of matching historical predictive skill for resource management.

The first webinar was an introduction to the 2020 series, understanding the Yampa River basin context. The webinar was moderated by Nathan Stewart (CMC) and included presentations from the following: Carrie Hauser (CMC), Marty Ralph (CW3E), Kent Vertrees (Friends of the Yampa and Steamboat Powdercats).

The second webinar, Changes in Measurement with a Changing Climate, explored why the tools we use to measure seasonal change are not providing us with the same predictive information as they have in the past. The webinar focused on understanding what our measurement data is showing us and finding ways to adapt our strategies to be more effective. The webinar was moderated by Madison Muxworthy (YVSC) and panelists included: Mike Dettinger (Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO)), Gannet Haller (University of Utah (UU), and Storm Peak Laboratory), Jeff Deems (National Snow and Ice Data Center and Airborne Snow Observatories).

The third webinar, Shifting Seasons and Precipitation, investigated the changes we are seeing in the Yampa River basin and how they are impacting our local and statewide watershed and forest health. The webinar was moderated by Mike Sierks (CW3E) and panelists included: Russ Schumacher (CSU and Colorado Climate Center), David Stahle (Arizona State University), Courtney Peterson (Adaptive Silviculture for Climate Change).

The fourth webinar, Impacts of Seasonal Variability and Uncertainty, looked at anticipated changes in our economy, environment and way of life in the Yampa River Basin. The webinar was moderated by Tim Sullivan (The Nature Conservancy (TNC)) and panelists included: David Anderson (Colorado Natural Heritage Program), Todd Hagenbuch (CSU Extension), Aneesh Subramanian (UC Boulder).

2019 Conference

The 2019 conference was guided by the theme of Climate Projections and Building Community Resilience. Participants examined the Yampa River Basin through the lens of climate change and community resilience. To explore the science behind climate projections with a focus on the Yampa, learning how climate change is expected to impact various stakeholders in the Yampa, and what adaptation and mitigation plans are in place and where challenges remained. Panel discussions involved the following:

  • Introduction: Kathy Kiser-Miller (CMC), Carrie Hauser (CMC), Nathan Stewart (CMC), Kent Vertrees (Friends of the Yampa and Steamboat Powdercats), Tim Sullivan (TNC), Marty Ralph (CW3E). 

  • Regional Climate Projections: David Pierce (SIO), Ben Hatchett (Desert Research Institute), McKenzie Skiles (UU), Lauren Hay (U.S. Geological Survey). 

  • Building Climate Resilience – Statewide: Roger Pierce (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)), Brad Udall (CSU), Nancy Smith (TNC), Courtney Peterson (CSU). 

  • Building Climate Resilience – Local: Kelly Romero-Heaney (City of Steamboat Springs), Lisa Dilling (Western Water Assessment), Billy Atkinson (Colorado Parks and Wildlife). 

  • Building Resilience in a Changing Climate: Tim Sullivan (TNC), Matt Hamilton (Aspen Ski Corporation), Marty Ralph (CW3E).

In addition to panel discussions, participants were encouraged to partake in various field trips these included the following:

  • Steamboat Ski Area: Lance Miles (Steamboat Ski and Resort Corporation (SSRC)), Rick Henderson (U.S. Forest Service (USFS)).

  • Agriculture irrigation: Marsha Daughenbaugh (Routt County Rancher), Todd Hagenbuch (CSU Extension), Tully Miller (Environmental Engineer). 

2018 Conference

The first conference in 2018 focused on Western Weather, Environment, and Culture. The goal of this event was to establish connections between local expertise and historical knowledge to identify opportunities for future Yampa River basin-related collaboration and explore where more information and research was needed. Panel discussions involved the following:

  • Introduction: Kent Vertrees (Friends of the Yampa and Steamboat Powdercats), Marty Ralph (CW3E), Doug Allen (Steamboat Resorts), and Jay Fetcher (Routt County Rancher).

  • Weather and climate: Gannet Haller (UU and Storm Peak Laboratory), Becky Bolinger (Colorado Climate Center), Jon Rutz (CW3E), and Mike Meyers (National Weather Service). 

  • Water and Environment: Kelly Romero-Heaney (City of Steamboat Springs), Mckenzie Skiles (UU), Rick Henderson (U.S. Forest Service), and Liz Schnackenberg (U.S. Forest Service).  

  • Economy and Culture: Dave Hunter (SSRC), Todd Hagenbuch (CSU Extension), Sonja Macys (Steamboat Springs City Council), John Bristol (Steamboat Springs Chamber). 

  • The Yampa Basin – Snow Weather Water and our Future: Joel Gratz (OpenSnow), Kevin McBride (Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District), Kelly Romero-Heaney (City of Steamboat Springs) Marty Ralph (CW3E) Sarah Jones (YVSC).   

In addition to panel discussions, participants were encouraged to partake in various field trips these included the following:

  • Tour of Carpenter Ranch: Geoff & Betsy Blakeslee (TNC).

  • Visit Buffalo Pass: Liz Schnackenberg (USFS). 

YBR Steering Committee Members:

Anna Wilson, Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes, UC San Diego (2018-2021)

Sarah Jones, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corporation (2018-2021)

Matt Jost, Colorado Mountain College (2018-2021)

Marty Ralph, Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes, UC San Diego (2018-2021)

Mike Sierks, Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes, UC San Diego (2018-2021)

Nathan Stewart, Colorado Mountain College (2018-2021)

Tim Sullivan, Yampa Valley Sustainability Council (2020-2021)

Tony Urbick, Steamboat Resorts by Vacasa (2018-2021)

Kent Vertrees, Friends of the Yampa & Steamboat Powdercats (2018-2021)

Lindsey Marlow, Integrated Water Management Plan and Yampa River Fund (2020-2021)

Madison Muxworthy, Yampa Valley Sustainability Council (2020-2021) 

Jill Bergman, Artist (2021) 

Holly Kirkpatrick, Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District (2021)

Leah Campbell, Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes, UC San Diego (2018)

Tina Evans, Colorado Mountain College (2018)

Carrie Henderson, Steamboat Resorts by Wyndham Vacation Rentals (2018) 

Resources

You can find state climate data and research from the Colorado Climate Center here.  

Click here to learn more about the Storm Peak Laboratory, an atmospheric research center based in Steamboat Springs, CO.