U.S. Department of Defense


Date of this Version



Geomorphic Processes and Riverine Habitat, 2001


U.S. Government work


Multiple large floods in 1993-1997 on the Lower Missouri River carved a side-channel chute through the river bottom at Lisbon, Missouri. Although similar in some respects to engineered side-channel chutes designed for habitat rehabilitation projects, the Lisbon Bottom chute has been unique in that it was allowed to evolve for more than four years with minimal stabilization. During the wet years, 1996-1999, the chute was subjected to abnormally high discharges and passed as much as 20% of the total discharge of the Missouri River. Relatively unrestrained fluvial processes during this time created a wide channel with highly diverse habitats. The upper one-half of the chute established a shallow, braided channel morphology similar to the pre-managed Missouri River. The lower half established a dynamically migrating, single-thread channel, and an incipient flood plain. Compared to the adjacent navigation channel, the chute established substantial areas of shallow, slow-velocity aquatic habitat that is considered to be in short supply in the present-day Lower Missouri River. The short term biological benefits have been mixed: the chute has fewer water bird and benthic macro-invertebrate taxa than adjacent riverine habitats, but greater numbers of fish species compared to the navigation channel.