USGS Washington Water Science Center
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In the Pacific Northwest, water, sediment, and vegetation primarily determine the form of large river channels and shape their ecosystems. Dams on rivers affect all of these elements, with consequences for habitats and aquatic species. Understanding how water, sediment, and vegetation interact in habitats is key to managing rivers. In the case of the middle Green River in King County, Washington, with upstream regulation at Howard Hansen Dam, managers must balance the needs for flood protection and ecosystem health. Scientists and water managers teamed up to develop the Middle Green River Flow Investigation plan.
To help initiate the plan, the USGS is developing a method to quantify how floods affect channels in the middle Green River. USGS scientists are focusing on river channel changes that they can detect with aerial photography and that are linked to ecological processes and conditions. The method will be demonstrated in selected reaches of the Green River and will provide a prototype for future studies of the entire middle Green River.