Nat Geo: Innovation to Save the Yampa

November 3, 2012 By: Erin Block

An ongoing drought worsened with the light snowpack of 2012 in the rocky mountains, and while historically nature and rivers adapt to such fluctuations, excessive diversions for agricultural and urban use have made it difficult for rivers such as the Yampa to sustain itself. But this past spring, with an intervention by the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District and an unclaimed water lease, help was given to an ecosystem bordering on collapse.

“Besides rescuing a river and its dependents, the Yampa drought-lease set a precedent in Colorado,” reports Sandra Postel on the National Geographic blog. “It was the first use of a 2003 state law, passed in part in response to the devastating 2002 drought, that allows farmers, ranchers, water districts or other entities to temporarily loan water to rivers and streams in times of need.”