Tag Archives: floodplains

Study: Focus on Smaller Streams Can Save Big River Fish

Large-river fish like paddlefish and blue catfish are in danger.  A University of Wisconsin-Madison study in journal Frontiers in Ecology and Environment says 60 out of 68 species, or 88 percent, of fish species found exclusively in large-river ecosystems like the Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio rivers, are a conservation concern.

Despite these grim statistics, lead author Brenda Pracheil, a postdoctoral researcher in the UW’s Center for Limnology, points to some good news. Although these fish are found in some of our nation’s largest river systems, their survival is tied closely to the health of smaller tributaries.  These tributaries provide important refuges for large-river fishes, and around the world, these smaller systems are sometimes easier to preserve and protect.

“Tributaries may be one of our last chances to preserve large-river fish habitat,” Pracheil says in “Thinking ‘big’ may not be best approach to saving large-river fish”. “Even though the dam building era is all but over in this country, it’s just starting on rivers like the Mekong and Amazon —places that are hotspots for freshwater fish diversity. While tributaries cannot offer a one-to-one replacement of main river habitats, our work suggests that [they] provide important refuges for large-river fishes and that both main rivers and their tributaries should be considered in conservation plans.”

Read more:  http://www.news.wisc.edu/21813

Will Change Come Fast Enough for Mississippi River Floodplain Policy?

flooding on mississippi

Flooding on the Mississippi River.
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Isaac Pacheco.

This spring a 45-foot swing in water levels took the Mississippi River from near-dry in places, to near-historic crests in just a few months.  Two years ago, floodplain managers were advocating for policy change on the Mississippi River. But that change is slow.

“We need some retreat from our rivers,” said Larry Larson, executive director of the Association of State Floodplain Managers in 2011.  In USA Today Larson continued, “They need to re-evaluate the entire system.”

Since then, some landowners have sold out, but others like those in tiny Dutchtown, Mo. have been “jumping through hoops” for years seeking a buyout from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  When asked if she would sell, one 75-year-old resident was quoted in the Associated Press as saying, “In a New York minute. I’m 75 years old — I can’t fight this.”

At THI, we advocate for healthy, functioning floodplains and the many benefits they bring. We may be witnessing a paradigm shift from away from the flood control policies of the 1920s to a growing realization of one of our favorite observations, “Nature always bats last.”

Increasingly severe Midwestern storms have led to ever-more-frequent flood events. The National Wildlife Federation has been quick to support the changing policy with the federation’s John Kostyack, as saying, “Give it room to run,” and, “Our over-reliance on levees is not going to get us through these crises year after year.”

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/weather/2013/04/25/missouri-town-under-siege-by-flooding-mississippi-river-seeking-buyout/

Read the 2011 USA Today article: http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/weather/floods/2011-05-18-missisippi-flood-control_n.htm

You might also like: Restoring Nature’s Water Filter: How Streamside Vegetation Can Save the Gulf of Mexico

When One Inch Delivers 27,154 Gallons – Every Sustainable Aquatic Restoration Project Matters

 

Drought Still Threatens Mississippi River


Caption: U.S. Army Corps of Engineer vessels dredge chunks of limestone from the Mississippi River. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineer, Wikimedia Commons)

Discovery News recently reported that due to drought conditions, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers warned that the Mississippi River could become unnavigable by mid January. However, efforts by the USACE to blast away rocks have bought more time for barge shipping, according to a press release from the American Waterways Operators (AWO) and Waterways Council, Inc. (WCI) The river will now likely stay open through January.

In times of drought or flood, healthy floodplains can mitigate the negative impacts of either extreme.  Healthy floodplains act as a sponge to store water in times of drought and absorb excess water during flood events.  That’s why at Trout Headwaters we tirelessly advocate for healthy, functioning floodplains for rivers and the smaller tributaries that feed them.

Read more: http://news.discovery.com/earth/weather-extreme-events/drought-still-threatens-2013-with-a-withered-river-130109.htm#mkcpgn=rssnws1

 

Flood Risk and the Critical Importance of Healthy Floodplains

The Connecticut River Watershed Council and the Conservation Law Foundation have joined together to look at why Otter Creek in Rutland leapt up as Irene Struck, increasing in flow by nearly 20 times in the space of a little more than a day, while downstream in Middlebury the river rose much more gradually, and more safely. The film narrated by Gov. Howard Dean explores the importance of healthy floodplains and wetland complexes in reducing flood water damage.

Only 9 Percent of Mississippi River Levees Rated ‘Acceptable’ by the Corps of Engineers

Another good reason for protecting the health of natural flood plains is the high cost of flooding. The New York Times reports that when the Army Corps of Engineers declared last year that the levees in certain places, like East St. Louis, Ill. were ‘unacceptable,’ the rating kicked up a storm of protest along the broad Mississippi River flood plain. 

Local officials and residents said the corps had raised its safety standards to unreasonable levels, overstated the risks, and heaped millions of dollars of unnecessarily expensive repair and insurance costs on the community. The Corps said it had not changed its standards. Instead, improved technologies for assessing risks help engineers get a more accurate picture of the condition of the soil supporting the levees.

Under more stringent inspections, the corps has declared 10 percent of the levees in a new database of 2,200 federal levee systems ‘unacceptable,’  including those protecting people in Dallas, Sacramento, St. Paul and Tulsa, Okla. About 80 percent are rated ‘minimally acceptable.’  Just 9 percent of the levees in the database have been declared ‘acceptable’.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/05/us/illinoiss-metro-east-disputes-levees-unacceptable-rating.html?_r=1

Back to Nature – News from the BBC

Reconnecting floodplains to rivers will help reduce the risk of future flooding, say U.S. scientists. Writing in Science, the researchers say that risk of flooding is likely to increase in the future as a result of climate change and shifts in land use.

Floodwalls, levees and other channel hardening exacerbate flooding. The authors’ note: “Control infrastructure prevents high flows from entering floodplains, thus diminishing both natural flood storage capacity and the processes that sustain healthy riverside forests and wetlands.”

“As a result floodplains are among the planet’s most threatened ecosystems.” Read More at the BBC or Learn About Natural Channel Stability