Document Type

Article

Publication Date

10-14-2011

Abstract

Each year, snow melt from the mountains coupled with runoff from spring rains causes the Connecticut River and its tributaries to overflow their banks. These floodwaters inundate farm fields and remnant patches of forest in the floodplain. These unique forests, adjacent to and influenced by the river are known as floodplain forests. Floodplain forests once covered wide stretches along the Connecticut River and its tributaries. Today only a fraction of this floodplain forest remains.

Not only are floodplain forests important to the plants and animals that call this habitat home. Floodplain forests are also natural water‐storage areas. During significant floods—and such events can occur any time of the year—water overspreads the flat wetlands and loses velocity, thereby reducing the extent of downstream damage. Floodplain forests also act as a natural filter, trapping sediment, nutrients and pollutants before they reach our rivers and coastal seas, thereby improving water quality.

Comments

Acknowledgements: This research was funded by a grant from the Bingham Trust. TNC interns that helped with field work included Caitlin Burgess, Jesse Taylor‐Waldman, Amy Singler, Hanh Chu, Brett Boisjolie, Lindsey Nystrom, Jacinta Edebeli, Cynthia Faith and Charlotta Jornlid. We thank Mark Anderson, Julie Zimmerman, Keith Nislow, Frank Magilligan, Doug Bechtel, and Ken Metzler for helpful discussions. We are grateful to the many landowners that have allowed TNC to do field research on their floodplain forest properties.

Photo credits: Christian O. Marks

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