Making Floodplain Restoration Normal

by Olivia Dorothy

Many people in the Quad Cities live or work in the floodplain because building homes and businesses on the flat floodplain has been historically easy and economically convenient.  But, we all know that living in the Mississippi River floodplain comes with the risk of floods – floods that can cost lives, livelihoods, and a lot of money.  These costs often prompt communities to make critical decisions about the value of supporting development in the floodplain – even when the land is protected by levees.

Living behind a levee can create a false sense of security, because there are only two kinds of levees – those that have failed and those that will fail.  When you understand these risks, it’s easy to see that limiting development in the floodplain and giving the river room to move can benefit public health and safety.  But that is just the human aspect of making room for the river, there are several environmental benefits to reconnecting floodplains to the river.

Reconnecting the floodplain to the river can help native fish and wildlife thrive.  Native fish often grow faster and are healthier than non-native species when they have access to the floodplain.  And ecologically functioning floodplains, that have forests and wetlands, offer a lot of food and habitat for birds, mammals and amphibians.

But, how do you restore a floodplain?  And more importantly, how do you restore many floodplains?

American Rivers is launching its floodplain restoration program in the Upper Mississippi River Basin to manage and facilitate restoration projects along rivers big and small.  Join the discussion with Olivia Dorothy of American Rivers to learn more about the new program on January 16th at 6:30PM at the Moline Public Library Bronze Room.




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