John Fetcher’s conservation legacy |

John Fetcher’s conservation legacy

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 State Parks, during its monthly meeting 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 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.”

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. 

During the late 1980s, Fetcher played a leading role in the creation of Stagecoach, 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 Fletcher family “in recognition of our outstanding partnership and your family’s dedicated service to the people of the Yampa River Valley.”continue until November a proposal to amend rafting regulations to allow a wider range of acceptable personal flotation devices for commercial passengers on regulated river trips. Commissioners were concerned that the proposed regulations were not clear enough for the public and enforcement officers. Commissioners asked River Outfitter Licensing program staff for additional information on the potential impact of the changes on public safety. 

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