Reconnecting Rivers and Floodplains- Reconciling Theory and Practice

Published: July 8, 2015

This is a NASA enhanced satellite image of the extent of floodwaters in the summer of 1993 at the confluence of Missouri, Mississippi and Illinois Rivers.

This is a NASA enhanced satellite image of the extent of floodwaters in the summer of 1993 at the confluence of Missouri, Mississippi and Illinois Rivers.

Presentation by David Galat, PhD, former Professor at University of Missouri Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit

Original Presentation, July 8, 2015 at Big A’s Restaurant, St. Charles, MO.

The importance of seasonal flooding to reconnect large rivers with their floodplains is essential for their ecological integrity. Due to channelization and levee protection, the Lower Missouri River (LMOR) has been cut off from much of its floodplain.

When it comes to projects attempting to reconnect the river and its floodplain on public lands, there are often conflicts that arise between the theory and actual practice. Dr. Galat’s talk was focused on working to reconcile these difficulties. He shared some of his research on floodplain connectivity in large rivers around the world, as well in the Lower Missouri River.

This presentation specifically covered four topics.  First, connectivity and its attributes in large rivers were reviewed.  Then, past and present changes in lateral connectivity of the lower Missouri River were described.  Next, the importance of lateral connectivity for fish spawning was illustrated  for an intensively managed wetland pool at the Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area.  To conclude the talk, multiple examples were presented of the enhancement of lateral connectivity along the LMOR through the Missouri River Recovery Program’s habitat creation projects.

Dr. David Galat is a former Associate Professor of Fisheries at the University of Missouri. He is currently a science adviser for the Nature Conservancy’s Great Rivers Partnership and has served on the Science Advisory Panel for the Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee. He is currently trying (and failing) to stay home more with his chickens.

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