The Yampa River: a treasure trove of trash and treasure

A team of volunteers works to clean up the Yampa River throughout the morning of July 9, 2022.
Katy Pickens / Steamboat Pilot and Today

The Friends of the Yampa organize an annual cleaning of the river. What did they get out of the water this time?

Striving to bring the community together and take care of Steamboat’s natural resources, a team of volunteers and organizers worked from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday July 9 to pick up litter from the Yampa River.

At the seventh annual event, volunteers walked 15 different sections of the river, trash bags and sticks to skewer trash by hand. Together they collected a variety of loot – tons of food wrappers, as well as cans, shoes, and even paddles.

“We love our streams, rivers and streams for many reasons, and by picking up all litter along, beside and in the river, we are playing our part in keeping the river ecosystem clean and tidy,” says Friends of the Yampa on the group’s website.

The non-profit group partnered with the City of Steamboat Springs Brewery and Storm Peak to make the cleanup happen for the seventh year in a row, and the waste collected was piled up in Little Toots Park.

“There’s less litter than most years, but maybe that’s not a bad thing,” said Jenny Carey, open space and trail supervisor for the city and one of the coordinators of the ‘event.

Carey added that she hopes this means there is less litter in the river in general.

Some of the strange discoveries this year included part of a dashboard, part of a car axle, a Bluetooth speaker and a loose wire.

There was also plenty of water sports equipment, from paddles to dry bags. Carey said his son even managed to find a piece of his paddle board that broke in the river earlier this season.

Volunteers celebrated their hard work with a pizza lunch in the park after they finished scrubbing the river.

Friends of the Yampa is also hosting the third annual Yampa Headwaters Fishing Fundraiser and Poker Race from Friday July 15th to August 14th. For more information on the cleanup and upcoming fundraisers, visit


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