Image # 6859
trees on picket fence resting
The aftermath of a river flood in Mapleton, Oregon. An uprooted tree is resting on a picket fence. I spoke with a resident about the flood and he said, "Three floods in 18 years, that's not too bad." The town of Mapleton is in a narrow area of the Siuslaw River Canyon. Extensive logging upstream along with agricultural development have increased the speed that water runs off the land and also the total amount of runoff since less water is absorbed into the ground. River floods are natural and to a very large extent predictable. Damage beyond the predictable is usually caused by human activities in the upstream watershed. Human activities that increase flood severity and height include paving, deforestation and straightened or 'improved' channels. All of these factors contribute to faster delivery of more water, and rivers run over their banks when they are unable to carry the additional load.