RBC I Western Rivers Conservancy, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service have now completed conservation of a historic property at the confluence of the Yampa River and Sarvis Creek.
The project conserves outstanding fish and wildlife habitat and opens new public access to a prime stretch of trophy trout water and elk hunting grounds only 13 miles from Steamboat Springs.
The property, which WRC calls Hubbard’s Summer Place, lies three miles downstream from Stagecoach Reservoir on the banks of a classic tailwater fishery. According to local anglers, this stretch of the Yampa River is coveted for its large rainbow and brown trout and native mountain whitefish. Until now, Hubbard’s Summer Place was closed to the public.
The 45-acre property was both an inholding and an edgeholding in the Routt National Forest. The parcel is also adjacent to the USFS Sarvis Creek Wilderness Area, BLM lands and the Sarvis Creek State Wildlife Area.
“This property is extremely important, both from a conservation perspective and as a place where people can fish, hunt and hike,” says Tim Wilson, associate field manager for the BLM’s Little Snake Field Office. “Now that it is publicly owned, we can manage it for its valuable fish and wildlife habitat and to open access to experience exceptional angling in Colorado.”
Early efforts to conserve the Hubbard property date back to 1995 with the completion of the Routt County Sarvis Creek Area Plan. Conservation efforts gained momentum in 2011, when the Yampa River Legacy Partnership sought inclusion of this parcel in the America’s Great Outdoors initiative.
It was then that the BLM approached WRC about acquiring and conserving the property. WRC was in the process of conserving a 920-acre ranch on the lower Yampa River to protect 2.5 miles of the Yampa and open new public access to the BLM’s vast Cross Mountain Wilderness Study Area.
“When we learned about Hubbard’s Summer Place,” says WRC President Sue Doroff, “we immediately recognized the need to protect it and make it accessible. It’s a special place with outstanding conservation values and tremendous potential for low-impact recreation.”
WRC purchased the property in 2013 and began working to assemble the funding to allow the BLM and USFS to acquire the lands.
“We are excited to help provide access to this unique reach of the Yampa River,” says Jack Lewis, USFS Yampa District Ranger, “For recreationists and sportsmen, both locally and nationally, this is a major accomplishment to improve public access.”
Along with adjacent public lands, Hubbard’s Summer Place supports a variety of wildlife habitat, including Rocky Mountain elk, mountain lion and Canada lynx. It possesses extensive stands of cottonwood and red osier dogwood, as well as serviceberry, within its signature box canyon, which are important for conserving biodiversity. The Hubbard’s Summer Place also serves as an important source of late summer nutrition for black bear and dusky grouse.
“The Yampa River remains one of the wildest, freest rivers in the West,” says Doroff. “Our work on the lower and upper Yampa is about conserving a great river for the sake of the river, for its outstanding fish, its incredible wildlife and so people have a healthy stream to return to as anglers, boaters, hikers or wildlife watchers.”
“The site is also significant to the rich rural heritage in the upper Yampa Valley and can now be preserved for future generations,” Wilson said.
The Hubbard Summer Camp Cabin, built in 1956, will remain on the land and be managed as a historic structure by the USFS and BLM. And for the first time in memory, this stretch of the Yampa is open to everyone.