Yust family ranch gets $60k grant for restoration work
One of Grand County’s oldest families is getting a bit of a boost next year with a river restoration project thanks to a grant from Great Outdoors Colorado.
In early December officials from Great Outdoors Colorado, or GOCO, announced a grant award of $60,373 to Colorado Cattlemen’s Agriculture and Land Trust to be used for the Blue River Restoration Project on the Yust Ranch south of Kremmling. The Blue River Restoration Project looks to improve and restore roughly one-and-a-hale miles of the Blue River on the Yust Ranch, just south of the confluence of the Blue and Colorado Rivers near Kremmling.
Work on the project, which is expected to begin and finish in the summer of 2019. The restoration work will entail several elements including the removal of an old railroad bridge that protrudes into Blue River causing higher water velocity in the area and contributing significantly to riverbank erosion downstream. The restoration project will also include excavation of portions of the river, to clear out artificial islands that developed in the river channel, and the placement of large rocks and boulders along the riverbank to mitigate further erosion.
“To us this is really pretty huge,” Jay Yust said. “It would be pretty hard to get anything like this done without a lot of help from organizations like Cattlemen’s and GOCO. Without them I don’t think we would be able to do it.”
According to Yust the Blue River has significantly eroded portions of nearby family hay fields as the churning waters of the Blue have slowly eaten away at the riverbanks.
“Over the last 50 years there has been a considerable amount of bank damage,” Yust said. “There are also ditches and other things that are in jeopardy. It is an infrastructure thing.”
Colorado Cattlemen’s Ag and Land Trust sought the grant on behalf of the Yust family. Megan Knott, with Colorado Cattlemen’s Ag and Land Trust, said her organization holds a conservation easement on sections of the Yust Ranch, which was the basis for their collaboration with the Yusts. According to Knott the $60k grant from GOCO is actually matching funds for an additional $60k in Natural Resources Conservation Service funds that will also be applied to the project.
“The Yusts are contributing a fair amount of their own as well, in time, equipment and money,” Knott said.
The project itself is part of a larger local river restoration project being undertaken by a group of local farmers and ranchers called Irrigators on Lands in the Vicinity of Kremmling, or ILVK. The ILVK project is also part of the much larger initiative called the Colorado River Headwaters Project.
The Yust family of Kremmling is one of Grand County’s oldest families. The Yust family forbearers initially homesteaded in Grand County in 1884. The segment of the Yust Ranch where the work will be conducted was not part of the original Yust homestead but according to Jay Yust the family purchased the land in the late 1930s or early 40s.
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Both the Grand County/Granby airport and the Kremmling airport are upgrading facilities this summer.