When streams reclaim flood plains in a human-altered world

Electa Draper in the Denver Post over the weekend on what happens when streams reclaim their flood plains in a human-altered world:

Before Colorado was settled, its narrow canyons were river channel from wall to wall. Humans added roads and buildings in these tight spots and confined the channel. In one week in September, the stranglehold of asphalt, concrete and riprap on the St. Vrain was broken.

The river, from an ecosystem perspective, was as creative as it was destructive — new beds and paths, new aquatic life habitat in new pools and riffles and runs.

“No question, it was a disaster for people,” Wohl said, “but floods are actually good for the health of the rivers. They are dynamic systems. We try to make them less so. We create bland rivers.”