John Fielder explains why the free-flowing Yampa and Upper Colorado rivers should stay that way |

John Fielder explains why the free-flowing Yampa and Upper Colorado rivers should stay that way

John Fielder and Pat Tierney will be at Colorado Mountain College Edwards Tuesday for a free multimedia presentation on their recent book, "Colorado's Yampa River." Among other things, they'll discuss why the free-flowing Yampa River should stay that way. This is Fielder in the Gates of Lodore on the Yampa River.
Gary Soles|Special to the Daily |

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What: “Colorado’s Yampa River,” a multimedia presentation about why it should remain free-flowing.

When: Tuesday, Oct. 27; 5 p.m. reception, 6 p.m. presentation.

Where: Colorado Mountain College, 150 Miller Ranch Road, Edwards.

Cost: Admission is free.

More information: Photographer and conservationist John Fielder will be joined by Pat Tierney, Ph.D., for a presentation about the Upper Colorado and Yampa rivers and why they should stay free-flowing. Fielder’s new book, “Colorado’s Yampa River: Free Flowing & Wild from the Flat Tops to the Green,” as well as all his Colorado coffee-table, guide and children’s books and calendars, will be available for sale and signing before and after the presentation. Learn more at

The best thing we can do with the Upper Colorado and Yampa rivers is nothing at all, says John Fielder, nature photographer and conservationist.

Fielder and educator-river rat Patrick Tierney, Ph.D., rafted and wrote their way along the entire length of the Yampa River, 249 miles from the headwaters in the Flat Tops Wilderness at 11,500 feet to its confluence with the Green River in Dinosaur National Monument.

The Yampa River of northwest Colorado is considered the last major free-flowing river in the seven-state Colorado River Basin.

Fielder shows you what it looks like: stunning images of tundra wildflowers, eagles, elk and the tributaries and canyons of the Yampa. Tierney tells you what it feels like: bright and engaging discourse about the Yampa’s human, natural and political history.

They’ll share it with you during a multimedia presentation Tuesday evening at Colorado Mountain College.

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Water wonders

Among other things, they’ll show photographs from Pumphouse to Dotsero of what’s known as the Upper C and talk about the recent Colorado River Cooperative Agreement with the Denver Water Board. That agreement has 18 signatories, including Summit and Grand counties, and says there will be no more major diversions of Colorado River water to the Front Range.

“I am focused, literally and figuratively, on rivers currently, as Colorado’s Water Plan is finalized this December,” Fielder said. “The purpose of my book/project/presentations is to discuss why no more water should be diverted from West Slope rivers over/under to the Front Range.”

You can’t rush geology

The Yampa River is with us because of at least 30 million years of geological processes, 300,000 years of biological evolution, 5,000 years of Native American utilization and only 200 years of Anglo exploitation, Fielder said.

Yet the Yampa and its interconnected resources still function almost as they have for eons.

“It’s a wonderful anomaly in an otherwise river-enslaved Colorado River Basin,” Fielder said.

But there are proposals to undo this evolutionary masterpiece, all in a matter of 10 years, to support unsustainable population growth on the east slope of Colorado.

About Tierney and Fielder

Tierney has been kayaking, rafting, hiking and skiing in the Yampa Basin for 38 years as a licensed whitewater guide, National Park Service river ranger, nature guide, rafting outfitter, director of the nonprofit Yampa River Awareness Project, teacher and researcher.

Fielder has been capturing the beauty of Colorado for 40 years. His books, calendars and notecards are all available for sale at his gallery, 833 Santa Fe Drive, in the heart of Denver’s Art District. He first visited Colorado at the age of 14 during a school field trip from North Carolina.

“In all my life, I have not forgotten my first sight of the Rockies rising up before me over the plains,” Fielder said. “I was simply smitten by this wall of snow-capped peaks above a treeless plain. And the word C-O-L-O-R-A-D-O, it was the most poetic name for a place I had ever heard. I realized at that moment that someone or something had guided me to this place and that I belonged here for the rest of my life.”

Tuesday’s event is part of the Women in Philanthropy Distinguished Lecture Series event hosted by Colorado Mountain College in Edwards.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or

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