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  • Dylan Anderson

South Routt is actually up from Steamboat. Here are five stories that will help you remember that.

Downtown Oak Creek. (Dylan Anderson/The Yampa Valley Bugle)

South Routt is perhaps my favorite part of Routt County, especially in the summertime. It also can have some pretty interesting news, as I have found out covering it over the past few years.

From community assets like a museum that has long been closed to the largest team of wildland firefighters in the county, South Routt has a lot to offer. Here are five stories about the area that should always be referred to as “up” from Steamboat.

This story started how I hope many at The Bugle will start, with an email from a member of the community. While I learned about the struggle a small group of folks was going through to get Oak Creek’s Tracks and Trails Museum back open, I learned a lot about the bustling community that Oak Creek has historically been.

It once was even talked about becoming the seat of Routt County, a title that Steamboat Springs currently holds. But the place where people could learn about that history has been closed since the early days of the pandemic, and structural issues with the town’s former hall have kept it closed.

I hope to follow up on how things are going in the effort to reopen the museum in the coming weeks, but until then, read the story here.

The summer of 2021 saw two major fires in Routt County, but last summer didn’t light up the same way. The Oak Creek Fire Protection District was ready for it, but without a fire to deal with, they worked to prepare for the next one.

Wildfire mitigation is a huge topic, and the district has a long-term contract to cut potentially hazardous trees in the Stagecoach area to ensure that people can evacuate even if a fire is moving quickly. The district has staffed up and added several pieces of firefighting equipment in preparation for the next blaze as well.

It was great to get out with firefighters and I even learned a bit about how to properly cut down a tree. (I guess I have been doing it the wrong way.) Check out the story here.

While the post office has been perhaps the biggest story of 2023 in Steamboat, the town of Yampa learned they could be losing theirs last summer. I learned about this story from a press release outlining that several rural post offices needed new locations, with Yampa’s being one of them.

When I talked with U.S. Postal Service about the move, their spokesperson made it seem like all they needed to do was find some commercial space to set up shop. He seemed somewhat unaware of how small Yampa really is. Still, the Yampa Post Office is still open according to USPS’s website.

The post offices across Routt County are super important to the people that need them, so I’ll try to stay on top of any news about each of them. Read the story here.

The cool thing about community journalism is that you get to share the story of a group of people coming together to solve problems. That is exactly what happened when Oak Creek renovated its community center to provide space for more kids to participate in its child care programs.

It was a sunny morning last summer when I headed down to Oak Creek for the ribbon cutting and it was awesome to meet some of the youngsters that are using the new space. The effort was pulled together largely by Erika Peterson, who unfortunately is no longer with the town.

It also relied on Oak Creek locals like Billy Texter, who has two kids in the town’s child care programs and did many of the reservations on the cheap to ensure the town could afford it. Read the story here.

Growing up in Minnesota, I have never experienced an earthquake, so when it was brought up as a potential risk for Oak Creek’s Sheriff Reservoir, I went down a bit of a rabbit hole on the subject. Turns out they are not unheard of here in the Yampa Valley, though they generally are too small to notice.

Sheriff Reservoir, which is owned by Oak Creek, needs significant upgrades, but the town found out earlier this year that it wouldn’t be as significant as once thought. There was a time that I would sit in Routt County Commissioner meetings where they had no clue how the town would pay for the needed repairs.

Things are expected to be cheaper now that it needs a smaller spillway. That work hopes to be done next summer. Read more about it here.


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