In 1996 and 1997, the Yellowstone River in Montana surged forth in back-to-back, record-breaking floods that caused millions of dollars in damage (HCN, 3/27/00: The last wild river). Floodplain landowners scrambled to secure their property in an epidemic of bank-stabilization measures.

But many river scientists believe that stabilization measures actually exacerbate floods, and can accelerate erosion and stifle natural systems. According to Montana Audubon, which has written an eight-page guide, Learning to Go with the Flow: Streams and Bank Stabilization, there are better ways to minimize damage from flood preparation. The booklet describes the effects of bank stabilization on dynamic river systems, reviews different types of bank-stabilizing structures, such as riprap, gabions, weirs and revetments, and explains their intended functions and harmful impacts, both individually and cumulatively.

For a copy or additional information, contact Montana Audubon at 406/443-3949 or mtaudubon@montana.com.