Colorado’s Yampa River Gets Google Maps Street View; Second River in U.S. Behind Grand Canyon

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The Colorado RIver’s Grand Canyon might have several things the Yampa River upstream doesn’t, but not anymore when it comes to Google Maps Street View. The Yampa is now the second river in the world to enjoy new Google Maps Street View, giving viewers a 3-D perspective of the waterway online.

Launched in partnership with American Rivers, the Yampa River Street View project celebrates the river’s canyon scenery, landscapes, and whitewater, while highlighting the values that its free-flowing nature has for the region. Its imagery showcases the Yampa’s scenery through Dinosaur National Monument in Northwestern Colorado, one of the last wild rivers in the Colorado Basin and an example of how wild rivers support vibrant recreation economies and fish and wildlife, and connect us to natural and cultural resources.

Supported by O.A.R.S. and in partnership with Friends of the Yampa, American Rivers staff used the Street View Trekker camera on a four-day float on the Yampa in June 2014 to capture the river imagery. The Street View Trekker, on a special mount on the raft, captured a full 360-degree panorama every few seconds. This allows users to “join the raft” and explore 72 miles of the river, from Deerlodge Park through the confluence with the Green River, to Split Mountain near Vernal, Utah. Trip members also wore the Street View Trekker to capture popular side hikes, including Bull Canyon Trail with its dramatic overlook.

“The wild Yampa is important because it shows that we can sustain vibrant agriculture while conserving endangered fish and supporting recreation,” says Matt Rice, director of Colorado River Basin programs for American Rivers. “This is why American Rivers is working with partners across the basin to find solutions that will safeguard the Yampa for generations to come. We will always stand up for the wild Yampa River.”

Drought and increased demare strainingColorado Basin water supplies, and with proposals for new dams and trans-basin diversions, the future of the Yampa hangs in the balance. In 2013, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper ordered the state to develop its first water plan, with the goal of managing water sustainably for decades to come. In the Draft Plan, released late last year, protecting the Yampa River for fish and wildlife, recreation and agriculture was identified as a priority. In conjunction with the Street View release, American Rivers is calling on Governor Hickenlooper to stand up for a wild and protected Yampa River as part of Colorado’s final Water Plan.

“O.A.R.S. is proud to be a partner on the Google Street View project because we’re confident this initiative will help increase awareness of the wild Yampa River and the importance of protecting this world class recreational river for future generations,” says George Wendt, founder of O.A.R.S. “The timing of this initiative will help bring more awareness to the Centennial of Dinosaur National Monument which is being celebrated in 2015.”

Adds Friends of the Yampa president Soren Jespersen: “We’re positive that these ‘virtual visits’ to the Yampa will lead to more people wanting to help protect this magical place,” said Board President of.
From Google’s perspective, the Yampa was a natural choice. “We’re proud that American Rivers has successfully collected their first Street View entirely on their own as part of our Trekker Loan Program,” says Karin Tuxen-Bettman, Program Manager at Google Earth Outreach. “By making this imagery of the Yampa available online, we hope this inspires viewers from around the world to take an active interest in exploring, protecting, and participating in this beautiful intact ecosystem.”

“We hope it will bring greater awareness to this incredible resource,” adds Dinosaur National Monument Superintendent Mark Foust. “As the last natural flowing large tributary of the entire Colorado River system, the Yampa River preserves an amazing array of plant and animal communities along with the natural cycles they depend upon. This technology will provide people who may never get the opportunity to see the Yampa River in person to learn about the river and its ecological and wilderness values.”

American Rivers also joined Friends of the Yampa, American Whitewater, and O.A.R.S. to support the film “Warm Springs,” produced by Rig to Flip. The film documents the history of Warm Springs rapid, the unique role the Yampa River played in creating the modern river conservation movement, and the importance of keeping the Yampa wild and free.

To view Yampa Street View, click HERE

To view “Warm Springs” trailer click HERE

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