Floodplains: All of this meandering happens as the stream "hoses" across a flat floodplain.
Making a floodplain: When ground level is above the longitudinal profile, the stream will erode. Eventually, the erosive force of the stream against the side of its channel and the effect of mass wasting reducing the slope of the channel's banks combines to create a flat floodplain like that of the San Pedro River of Arizona (right). Think about the velocity of the water as it moves over the floodplain, the ultimate broad shallow channel.
Thus, whereas you get only sand and larger deposited in channel, you get mud in floodplain. Many of the principles behind Floodplains By Design are put to use at Oregon's Willamette River. Floodplain forests, often dominated by deciduous trees, are found along lower elevation valleys of the MFWW, especially downstream of the dams.
Floodplain forests and marshes are among the richest habitats for wildlife, both in terms of diversity and numbers.


Many terrestrial species use floodplains year-round throughout their lifecycle, but floodplains also provide critical habitat for many fish when water levels are high. Listed below are features that help explain what Floodplains by Design is, what it looks like on the ground, and its benefits.
Known as the river's floodplain, these lands were subject to natural spring floods and then low stable water levels during the summer growing season.
In addition to the habitat they provided, floodplains were a major energy source for the river ecosystem.
Through the interplay between the river and its floodplain, nutrients were exchanged, habitat was maintained and biological productivity was boosted.
Changes to the Mississippi during the last 100 years are destroying this formerly rich mosaic of floodplain plant communities and the fish and wildlife species the floodplain-river ecosystem sustains. Below Dubuque, Iowa, most of the Mississippi now flows between massive levees that prevent the interchange of water, nutrients, sediment and aquatic organisms between the river and its former floodplain.
In addition to the direct loss of important natural habitats, reduced water storage capacity on the floodplain contributes to unnatural water level fluctuations.


Combined with effects from navigation dams, these altered water levels severely limit the abundance and diversity of native plant communities in the river and its floodplain. Loss of floodplain storage also contributes to abnormally high floods and associated damages to private property and human life. It has a dedicated group of scientists and land conservation managers who are working with a variety of partners to restore and protect 1 million acres of the river's floodplain. Science is telling us that a functional floodplain is needed for the river system to be healthy and able to support the diversity of the region's native plants and animals.



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