62 years: The Green and Yampa Rivers

As the West faces a looming water crisis, the Colorado River Basin is in the spotlight more than ever. And unfortunately, because of its abundant water and record demand, the wild Yampa River continues to be a target for diversion.

We need rivers like the Yampa – to remind us how rivers are supposed to function, to demonstrate that it is possible to sustain vibrant agriculture while conserving endangered fish and recreation, and to help us improve the management of other rivers in the Colorado Basin. That’s why O.A.R.S. has teamed up with American Rivers on 62 Years to urge key decision makers to continue to safeguard the Yampa for future generations. Please join us as we diligently work to preserve and protect this icon of the American West.

The last time Ken Brower traveled down the Yampa River in Northwest Colorado was with his father, David Brower, in 1952. This was the year his father became the first executive director of the Sierra Club and joined the fight against a pair of proposed dams on the Green River in Northwest Colorado. The dams—a big one at Echo Park and a smaller one at Split Mountain—would have flooded the canyons of the Green and its tributary, the Yampa, inundating the heart of Dinosaur National Monument. 

With a conservation campaign that included a book, magazine articles, a film, a traveling slideshow, grassroots organizing, river trips and lobbying, David Brower and the Sierra Club ultimately won the fight—ushering in a period many consider the dawn of modern environmentalism.

62 years later, Ken revisited the Yampa and Green Rivers to reflect on his father’s work, their 1952 river trip and how we will confront the looming water crisis in the American West.