U.S. Department of Agriculture: Forest Service -- National Agroforestry Center


Date of this Version

April 2000


Published by National Agroforestry Center, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Station, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, East Campus – UNL, Lincoln, Nebraska 68583-0822.


Historically, many of the natural woody ecosystems that were once present in floodplains across the country have been highly altered or removed. Land clearing has resulted in the loss of woody vegetation, even in areas adjacent to streams and rivers. With these alterations, came extensive flood management commitments to compensate for the loss of naturally functioning floodplains and for the protection of towns, roads, and agricultural fields. However, even with the best available flood management techniques, when rivers decide to flood - they will, often with devastating consequences. Strictly from a social and an economic standpoint, allowing the floodplain to revert to a completely natural state would be a radical and largely unpopular action. Nonetheless, creating a floodplain system that accommodates, rather than controls flooding, and still maintains its economic and biological attributes, has been shown to be an acceptable alternative. A key to this is reestablishing trees in carefully planned and managed waterbreaks.