The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission honors John Fetcher’s conservation legacy

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Here’s the release from PWC:

The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission honored the legacy of local rancher John Fetcher, a water visionary who was instrumental in the creation of Steamboat Lake and Stagecoach Reservoir State Parks, during its monthly meeting Thursday in Steamboat Springs.

Fetcher’s son, Jay, was presented with a partnership award from Colorado Parks and Wildlife Director Rick Cables while a number of family friends and local dignitaries observed from the audience.

“As you all know, Steamboat Lake and Stagecoach Reservoir State Parks play a vital role in the quality of life in the Yampa Valley,” said Cables. “We are very proud to manage these properties and the many others that benefit this part of the state.”

John Fetcher, who also helped develop the Yamcola Reservoir on the Yampa headwaters in the late 1970s, served as the manager of the Upper Yampa Valley Water Conservancy District from its formation in 1966 to his death at age 97 in 2009.

In the early 1960s, Fetcher was approached by Colorado Game Fish and Parks, who asked him to consider building a lake in the Hahn’s Peak Basin. Steamboat Lake, which inundated 70 percent of the cattle ranch that Fetcher and his brother purchased in 1949, filled during its first snowmelt season. Fetcher paddled across the new lake on a surfboard to attend the dedication.

“Those of you who knew my dad knew his passion for water,” Jay Fetcher said. “He had a vision that this land was worth more as a recreational asset than for agriculture and he was right.”

During the late 1980s, Fetcher played a leading role in the creation of Stagecoach Reservoir, which joined Steamboat Lake as a fixture in the region’s recreational economy. Fetcher, who grew up in Chicago and learned to ski in Switzerland, also left his mark in the design of safer ski-jumping hills and is credited with helping to bring Steamboat Springs Resort into the modern age. His name is enshrined in the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame.

The partnership award was presented to the Fetcher family “in recognition of our outstanding partnership and your family’s dedicated service to the people of the Yampa River Valley.”

More coverage from Lynn Ackert writing for the Examiner. From the article:

Fetcher’s son, Jay, was presented with a partnership award from Colorado Parks and Wildlife Director Rick Cables while a number of family friends and local dignitaries observed from the audience…

In the early 1960s, Fetcher was approached by Colorado Game Fish and Parks, who asked him to consider building a lake in the Hahn’s Peak Basin. Steamboat Lake, which inundated 70 percent of the cattle ranch that Fetcher and his brother purchased in 1949, filled during its first snowmelt season. Fetcher paddled across the new lake on a surfboard to attend the dedication.

More Yampa River basin coverage here and here.

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