Rivers and their Social Connectivity

2018-09-05 08.47.17

The article “Social Connectivity of Urban Rivers” provides a framework to understand the relationship between the river the city users. There are different typologies that the article uses to unpack this relationship. Select a river that you are familiar with (not mentioned in the paper), and in no more than two pages, describe: (i) its environmental profile, (ii) different types people’s of interactions, (iii) flooding potential, (iv) describe its transport system contemporary or historically, (v) describe its three types of connectivity, and (vi) suggest possible improvements/restorations for the segment you are familiar with. Be articulate precise and try to cover all the points with depth and clarity.

#Env_Plan #Landscape

Rachel Cross

Madison  Quincke 

Danielle Hodgson

16 thoughts on “Rivers and their Social Connectivity

  1. The Niangua River is found in southern Missouri, near the Lake of the Ozarks. This river is formed in Webster County, where there is a fork divide between Niangua River, Bennett Spring, and Ha Ha Tonka State Park, and then eventually flows into the Osage River (Missouri’s Niangua River, 2003). The Niangua is fairly rural, because over 90% of the area surrounding the river is forested or pasture areas, with the last percentage being urban or developed areas. This river is not known historically for its use in transport. The land that surrounds the Niangua is too rural, which makes it mainly a tool for recreational activities.This area is well known in the summer, because people will come down from surrounding cities to camp around the river. They are able to enjoy areas such as Bennett Springs State Park, Ha Ha Tonka State Park, Lead Mine Conservation Area, Mule Shoe Conservation Area, or enjoying a float down the riverside (Niangua River Watershed, 2016). The water levels usually stay fairly low, so the current is not too strong, which is perfect for fishing or catching crawdads. When the Niangua floods, it is not too damaging because of the steep banks and the land that it surrounds. The water’s current is stronger and people have to stay out of the water, but the river goes down fairly quickly.

    When looking at the three types of connectivity along the Niangua, I believe that there are areas where this river is lacking. The lateral connection is lacking because the river banks are steep and somewhat eroded along specific parts of the river channel. Also, the launch spaces for each float site has really corroded the river banks. They have began to erode away, creating flatter sides where the water will creep into easier. The longitudinal connection is decent, because the river stays fairly low and people are able to easily float down it. Because of this river being in a very rural location, boat traffic is not an issue. During peak season, (weekends in the summer) you will see a lot of people out on the water, but the floating pace still goes steadily with the current. The vertical connectivity of the Niangua River is the strongest connection. This river focuses on recreation, such as floating, tubing, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, wading, swimming, and swinging from ropes and branches into the water. One thing that Niangua River doesn’t have, is a pedestrian or bicycle trail.

    To the left: photo of Niangua River on a Sunday afternoon in August
    To the right: my bff and I floating down the Niangua River..Niangua River is in close proximity with Springfield Missouri and Jefferson City, Missouri.



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  2. Background
    The Marais des Cygnes river is 217 miles long stretching from a small town named Reading, Kansas to Shell City, Missouri. The river is a primary tributary of the Osage River located in Missouri (USGS, 1981). I have only known the small stretch of it that runs through my hometown Osawatomie, Kansas.

    Environmental Profile
    Because the river is quite long, it is surrounded by a variety of uses such as development encroachment, robust agricultural lands, grazing lands, two critical wildlife habitat areas, natural wetlands, and small suburban cities. Although not severe, there have been many contaminants found in the river of the Marais des Cygnes including “…dissolved oxygen, nutrient loading and fecal coliform bacteria which have caused eutrophication and excessive biomass and sediment” (KDHE, 2012). The main sources of these impairments include “…livestock production, home wastewater treatment systems, crop production, and stormwater runoff” (KDHE, 2012). From my own observations of the portion that flowed through my hometown, Osawatomie, it was surrounded by dense riparian forest that creates the north boundary of the town. There are very tall river banks, five bridges, including a railroad track, that allow vehicular connection to the northern towns and always seemed very clean aside from a lot of wood or tree trunk debris by the dam.

    People- Water Interaction
    Despite these water impairments and because they are not visual impairments, many people do interact with the water. Creamery Bridge, the largest bridge the connects the city of Osawatomie to the north, has had a manmade dam built to help mitigate the fast pace flow of the river. There are several areas along the Marais des Cygnes where it has been dammed for the same cause, and at one point, even creates Melvern Lake in Osage County, Kansas. Creamery Bridge is the primary location in Osawatomie where people can interact with the water as a very large parking lot was created encouraging passive uses of the river such as relaxing and fishing. The most common activities that occur are fishing, canoeing, rope swinging, swimming, and a place for “hoodlum” hang outs. It is strongly encouraged to not swim or go into the river though due to the fast pace waters and strong undercurrents that have, unfortunately, taken several lives. Lastly, from what I have researched and know from common knowledge, the river is not known for its use in transport aside from recreational canoes or kayaks especially since all the dams and levee systems were introduced by the mid-1900s.

    Flooding Potential
    The Marais des Cygnes is highly prone to flooding during the spring/summer months. Unfortunately, the floods have been reoccurring since the mid 1800’s (Chitwood, 1998). According to what I have learned, the average flood levels have been recorded between 30-35 feet and the historical high was 50 feet high in July 1951 (Chitwood, 1998). I personally experienced a flood in 2007 that crested at 36 feet high. At the time, my family was currently moving to a different house on the south side of town, but we were evacuated from both the old and new house as the entire town is surrounding by the Marais des Cygnes on the north and the Pottawatomie River on the south and the town was essentially filling up like a bowl.

    Three Types of Connectivity
    I believe that the Marais des Cygnes does not have the strongest longitudinal, vertical, or lateral connectivity. I think that out of the three types, the lateral connection to the river is in the best within Osawatomie. Mostly vehicular with some pedestrian access, bridges allow movement across the river but only in five areas specific areas within the city of Osawatomie. In addition, one out of five of those areas is a railroad track. Vertical connection is lacking due to the heights and conditions of the channel walls. Many areas of the channel are eroding, there are only stairs in one out of the five access points and the average height from the uplands to the river bank is about 30 to 40 feet tall. But, once the pedestrian does reach the waterfront they can (unsafely) vertically interact with the water itself through swimming/diving. Lastly, the longitudinal movement is by far the worst connection to the river. Unless the pedestrian is in good condition and likes recreational climbing, walking along the waterfront is difficult and is inaccessible for bicycles. The waterfront edge is inconsistent too, making it hard to establish any kind of function along the banks.

    Suggestions for Restoration
    Overall, speaking for Osawatomie, there could be better connectivity to the riverfront. Although vertical interaction with the water should remain discouraged due to the strong undercurrents, I think that the riverbanks could be developed and made more consistent for a trail system for walking and bikes along with design, well lit, areas for passive activities. Although the dense forest feeling of the river is nice, I think there could be opportunity to open up an area for better visual and physical access to the water. The parking area around Creamery Bridge has potential for expanded activity space, lighting, and accessibility to become a community space that is safe and attractive. Lastly, to help clean the water or prevent it’s conditions from worsening, I think measures should be taken to reduce the impacts of wastewater, agriculture, and urban development on the river through strict policy, upgraded facilities, and an increase in educational opportunities so that people want to preserve the river.

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  3. The San Antonio River runs through the heart of San Antonio and runs south/south east until it connects to the Guadalupe River just off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. The banks of the river are often covered in dense vegetation. Only when it runs through the city are its banks more commercialized and consist of man-made materials. The river is used in a variety of ways, often for recreation, conservation, and commercial uses. Outside of the city it is often used for recreation but has also been known for dangerous flooding conditions. The most popular area of activity that I will focus on is the San Antonio Riverwalk. This area along the river is a city park and network of walkways that connect the riverfront to commercial buildings and important historical attractions within the city. People are attracted to the many shops and restaurants that have their doors just a few feet away from the riverbanks. Outside of this walkway, most areas along the river have dense vegetation, and many projects are being completed in the city to improve the river.

    This walkway is built along a side channel that was built to prevent flooding within the city. Historically, the river has been known to flood and in 1921 killed over 50 people in the city. The Olmos dam was implemented upstream to reduce flooding and a bypass channel was created in conjunction. This bypass would eventually become the River Walk, after many conservationists protested the concept of it being paved into a storm sewer. The river rarely floods either the bypass or within the city thanks to the implementation of the dam. While the river has still flooded occasionally, damage has been much less severe. Transport along the river is heavily commercialized along the River Walk. A shuttle system takes people to multiple attractions along the river and many gondolas and small leisure boats can be seen crowding the riverbanks.

    The social connectivity of the river is most prominent along the River Walk. The banks are often close enough that people on the other side can interact with each other. There are many bridges across the channel that allow easy access to amenities and different communities. These connections are very limited to this section of the river due to a floodgate upstream and the dam. Transport along this river for goods or public transport is very limited. The river is very active visually and has many amenities along its banks, but most of these areas are not accessible physically (there are often maintenance access points but no areas for recreation/swimming/etc.). Vertical connectivity is abundant along the riverfront. Many buildings are built right along the channel and provide visual connections. Again, most activities are above the water, providing walkways and social spaces but not much that connects directly to the river.

    There have been a few projects in the riverfront’s history to expand its walkways and connectivity. Since most of these only provide visual connections and very limited physical connection (boat rides, ferrys, etc.), the riverfront could be improved by increasing its recreational activity and potential areas for people to interact with the water itself. Most of the boats and physical activity that is already present on the riverfront are severely limited to commercial use. The density of the attractions and buildings surrounding the river makes it difficult for the public to utilize the river for themselves. Opening portions of the river to public access would further increase the use of this segment of the river and attract more people to its community. Overall, the San Antonio River Walk is a popular tourist hub that allows people to interact right next to the river. The visual connections to this segment are strong, but the use of the river itself is limited and has the potential to become more attractive to active members of the community.


  4. “It is 6:15 am and I am on my morning walk, strolling down the Bagmati river edge. There are already several groups of people here, worshippers performing their daily religious rituals on the stone steps, and priests, clad in orange and yellow, earning their livelihood by selling their services. The air sounds with morning prayers and bhajans (hymns) in the wood and brick patis (covered patios) that line the river banks. The green-brown river water is decorated with flowers and leaves offered to the gods and goddesses in anticipation of good fortune. The smell of smoke from oil lamps and incense sticks mixed with the pungent stench of the sewage-mixed waters fills the air. This smell is a familiar one, until I get a whiff of a different kind of burning, and I am reminded immediately of offering the same river water to my grandfather in his funeral, before he was cremated on the very banks on which I am now standing. A couple of yards away, there is a different kind of busyness, a group of monkeys are conversing at the river’s edge and their screeches add to the ever-dynamic river culture that the Bagmati river has created on its banks.”

    The description above is my memory of walking down the banks of Bagmati, along the stretch of the river that runs through Kathmandu, where the river banks are flanked by temple complexes. The Bagmati River is a culturally significant river in Nepal, which originates below the Shivapuri Hills, northeast of Kathmandu, runs through the capital city, and through Chobhar gorge to the Terai region in the south before crossing through to India through Dheng. The river is a major part of the urban landscape of Kathmandu. The Bagmati river is about 371 miles in length, under 100m wide in most parts of Kathmandu, and fairly shallow most of the year. The river basin encompasses urban settlements mostly in the Kathmandu valley, and agricultural land in the rural parts through which it flows. In Kathmandu, the river is bordered with religious temple complexes in over ten places, including ‘Pashupatinath’ and ‘Guhyeshwori’, legal and illegal residential developments in others areas, and forested woodlands in several spots. In these forested river edges, the Bagmati river corridor supports wetlands and around 100 species of winter birds. (Thapa, Paudel, and Bk 2008). Fish are found in the upstream areas of the Gokarna forest than in the core Kathmandu area (Ram Mehta, Kumar, and Kushwaha 2017). In addition to people, the river banks also host a significant number of monkeys (Rhesus macaque), which have made a livelihood in the temple complexes.

    The Bagmati river is polluted, mostly with sewage and solid waste, so recreational activities such as fishing and swimming are not in general practice. Hence, people are engaged in more passive activities such as walking and biking along the riverfront. But the most extensive use of the river in the Kathmandu valley is for religious rituals and cultural gatherings. Major festivals, such as Shivaratri and Chhath, are hosted on the banks of the Bagmati river. Steps leading to the water’s edge allow people to directly access the holy river, and litter it with flowers, vermillion powder and food as offerings. Stone platforms that cut through the steps on the river banks in Aryaghat used to cremate dead bodies as per Hindu ritual. This is a significant cultural use of the river, but it also adds to the air and river water pollution since the remnant ashes are cast into the river water. People also engage in illegal sand mining in the Bagmati river, which has caused riverbank erosion and extreme repercussions such as the collapse of a bridge in Kathmandu in 1991 (The Third Pole 2017). The Bagmati River does not flood very often because rainfall in Kathmandu is concentrated in several monsoon months. This has allowed illegal squatter settlements to encroach upon the public banks of the river.

    The river connects urban and rural towns and villages regionally, but it has not been used for transportation historically, nor is it used today, mostly because of the fluctuating terrain through which the river flows, resulting in waterfalls and rushed river currents. Longitudinally, the Bagmati river connects various religious hubs throughout the city, some of which are at walking distances to one another, and are connected through riverfront walkways and roads. The temple complexes on the banks of the river serve as hubs for lateral connectivity, drawing in people from all over the city regularly, and from India, substantially during major religious festivals such as ‘Shivaratri’ and ‘Chhath’. There are places along the river in Kathmandu, where the distance between the two sides is less than 15m, allowing direct visual communication and conversation. In most of the stretch, people and cars are clearly visible from one side to the other, and bridging is easy. Thus, there are several vehicular and pedestrian bridges, that connect the two sides of the river throughout the city. Lateral connectivity is enhanced by the pedestrian-scale roads and walkways aligning the river’s edge. Vertical connectivity is defined by the stone steps that lead down to the river at the temple complexes. At other places, the river edge is less accessible due to the difference in height between the accessible banks and the water level.

    There is immense potential to improve longitudinal and lateral connections to the Bagmati River by the introduction of riverfront parks and recreational trails connecting major riverfront hubs. For this strategy to work, pollution in the river needs to be mitigated. Several restoration programs have been started throughout the years to clean up the Bagmati river from pollution. The Bagmati Clean-up Campaign under the Nepal Clean Environment Mega Campaign, and organizations such as Save the Bagmati, Friends of the Bagmati and Global Visions, are some initiatives being taken to clean up the river in Kathmandu. When in Nepal, I participated in several cleanup programs. Such localized initiatives are helpful, but policy changes, to stop the accumulation of waste in the river, are needed to improve the water quality. More rigidity is also required in implementation of existing policies related to squatter settlements at the river banks.




  5. Pillsbury Crossing
    “Deep Creek” is a creek that lies southeast of Manhattan, Kansas. This creek is where Pillsbury Crossing is located, a popular low water river crossing known to most of the surrounding community. This base of the creek is on a flat limestone base with only a few inches of water, allowing for people to walk around and vehicles to cross to the opposite side of the road. A few hundred feet away from the entrance is a waterfall, known as Deep Creek Waterfall and the fall is approximately 5 feet long and 60 feet long.
    Many people go to Pillsbury Crossing throughout the year to participate in a variety of outdoor activities. There is a trail along the side of the creek people can walk along to reach a rope swing and cliff for jumping further down the creek, creating lateral connectivity. Pillsbury Crossing provides several opportunities for vertical connectivity, and this it why it is most visited. Active recreation includes fishing, climbing on the waterfall, swimming (even though it’s not permitted), canoeing, picnicking, and jumping off the 4-foot shelf created by the edge of the limestone bed. This is a common location for people to party and socialize. Due to the low water, people would park their vehicles in the water and set up beer pong tables on nice days and drink, creating a longitudinal connection, but is less common recently, because the space is monitored by cops more frequently. Climbing on the rocks within the waterfall is challenging, but I have seen both children and adults participate in this activity. People often bring their dogs out here and allow them to play in the water. When the university is in session this area is more popular for college students and during summer months it become more family oriented.
    The trails that run adjacent to the river are man-made, but the limestone rock base is natural. Since this is a low water crossing, there is a gravel road that continues through the creek and people drive their vehicles on the limestone base to get to the other side. There is a small gravel parking lot located towards the stream and a camping area, but people must have permits to be able to camp. The rope swing further down the creek is a modification that attracts people and provides opportunities for more interaction with the water. People climbing the river bank to jump off the cliff has worn down riparian species and is causing soil erosion. There is some pollution in the water, due to people partying and leaving behind trash and parking their vehicles in the water.
    When there is not enough rain, the water level at Pillsbury Crossing gets low. This causes the water to not flow and become stagnant, providing a breeding ground for bacteria and insects. During this time people do not usually enter the water. People visiting this area will see many squirrels, several bird species, including the blue heron and ducks, and occasionally beavers. It was mentioned earlier that a common activity, fish species include the bullhead catfish, spotted and largemouth bass, and carp.
    This creek is commonly used throughout the year by several members of the community. It is seen as one of the “Best kept secrets of Kansas”. With this title, I believe, the social use of this river will continue in the future. Visitors use will determine the ecological success of this area. Pillsbury Crossing is currently in good standing and we hope this continues in the future so next generations will be able to experience it.

    “Pillsbury Crossing Wildlife Area.” Pillsbury Crossing. 2011. Accessed September 15, 2018. http://www.naturalkansas.org/pillsbur.htm.

    Stokes, Keith. “Kansas Waterfalls.” Kansas Waterfalls. 2005. Accessed September 15, 2018. http://www.kansastravel.org/kansaswaterfalls.htm.

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  6. The river that I am most familiar with is the South Platte river, but realizing I don’t have much knowledge about it because I was not a river kid, here is the following knowledge I have acquired via the internet. The South Platte is one of two tributaries that make up the Platte River, with this river stretching between Colorado and Nebraska before becoming the Platte River. It starts southwest of Denver in the Rocky Mountains (the Mosquito Range), then after flowing southeast, it turns northeast and goes through the Front Range before going through downtown Denver onto Greeley and the Eastern Colorado Plains (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2013). The different environments that this river exists in is very interesting, as it goes from pristine and natural mountain runoff to the urban and industrial side of Denver, and finally finishes as an aid to agricultural production in the plains. Due to the different environments that the river exists in, there are a multitude of uses stretched throughout its span of half the state of Colorado. In the higher regions, the river is world renowned for fishing, specifically fly-fishing, kayaking and canoeing, and is highlighted downtown for its running, hiking and biking (Denver Water, 2018). I personally know it from the more industrial areas south of downtown Denver where I would ride my bike with my Dad last year, who is very familiar (and invested on how the river paths are treated). Approaching downtown along Commerce City (the industrial center where the Conoco oil refinery is located, along with most of the pollution) lies many homeless encampments next to river and bike paths. In downtown Denver, manipulation of the river to create rapids at Confluence Park allows for more kayaking in this very urban setting, as well as scenic walking and leisure paths adjacent to the water. In regards to flooding and flooding potential, the river has only seen a few instances of major flooding over the past century. The most severe flooding happened in June of 1965, when historic rainfall caused the flow to increase a thousand fold (from 150 cfc to 154,000 cfs), and resulted in destroyed bridged, roads, and extensive famaged of the local rail line (UCAR, 2007). In my recent memory, flooding in 2013 was not as extensive, but lead to loss and damage to infrastructure, farmland and property. The result of rainwater coming down the mountain leads to downstream problems, specifically located in the northern part of Colorado and southern Nebraska. Historically it has not been used as a transport system I think because of its narrow width and rough mountain terrain, but people usually cross it over large scale vehicular or pedestrian bridges, including a very large highway interchange north of downtown Denver. In regards to lateral connectivity, the river is not super wide (approximately 100-200 feet), so there is good visual access also for good interaction between the two banks, however commonly only one side of the river has a bike bath or road beside it, except for the portion that goes through downtown Denver. There are many access points along the river for cars, but almost all of them block visual views of the river and hide the area from view. The river varies in terms of vertical connectivity, with the mountainous and plains portions of the river having very little elevation change and allowing for immediate access and recreational use, which in the industrial setting in more limited to paths atop high channel walls along the banks, and discourages more personal interactions with the water. Lastly, for the area I am most familiar with, the longitudinal access is very lacking, often containing rough vegetation and steep bank walls that restrict interaction with the river, and limited opportunities for further engagement with the majority of the river.
    Finally, looking at proposed improvements and restorations to the area, I started off by calling my Dad, who knows the area much better than I do. From a performance and bike riding side, he wanted to see better lighting and maintenance to the area to make it more inviting, as he also expressed a concern for safety along the bike path. I would add more engagements from the bike paths to the river to create more connection points than the only one that exists downtown, and try to recreate the ecological and visual feel that the river has through the mountains which is easily accessible for recreation with lower grasses and vegetation. Focus on vegetation, as well as other infrastructure improvements, to aid with the cleanup of pollutants, in order to further engage the industrial portion of the river.

    “South Platte River: Fishing Destination and Scenic Mountain Terrain.” Denver Water. 2018. Accessed September 16, 2018. https://www.denverwater.org/recreation/south-platte-river.

    “South Platte & Arkansas Basins: June 14-20, 1965. The Weather and Climate Impact Assessment Science Project, UCAR. 2007. Accessed on September 16, 2018.

    Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “South Platte River.” Encyclopædia Britannica. October 11, 2013. Accessed September 16, 2018. https://www.britannica.com/place/South-Platte-River.

    Untitled map of South Platte River. 2014. USGS. Accessed on September 16, 2018. https://co.water.usgs.gov/nawqa/splt/

    Untitled photo of the South Platte River Trail. 2014. Photo by John Waschunas. Accessed on September 16, 2018. https://www.spinlister.com/blog/south-platte-river-trail-denvers-handy-20-mile-cycling-thoroughfare/.

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  7. In Southeast Missouri there is a spring fed river called Black River. When I was growing up my family would go to this river a couple times a month in the summer. The man spot to be was next to “K” bridge. It was the easiest way to get to the riverbank. You would find people wading in the water, eating, drinking, and always having a good time. Surrounding the river are camp grounds and a canoe/kayak rental shop. The small town that surrounds the river and campgrounds is called Lesterville in Reynolds County.
    Black River receives its name because of the tint of the water which is due to the vegetation. Even though it is called a river it is actually a stream and is part of the 300 mile long tributary of the White River (“GNIS Detail – Black River” 2000). Black river runs southwardly through Reynolds, Wayne, and Butler counties in Missouri and Clay, Randolph, and Lawrence Counties in Arkansas. The part of the river that I have interacted with is the East Fork which flows southwardly through Johnson Shut-Ins State Park.
    Johnson Shut-Ins has a pump storage plant called Taum Sauk pump storage plant and it holds water that is pumped into the upper reservoir and in 2005 the levee broke causing massive destruction but no deaths. The levee malfunctioned causing 10-20 feet of water walls and AmerenUE accepted full responsibility. The river tends to flood multiple times a year and the most recent crest was 9.37 feet in May, 2018 and the most recent historic crest was 23.23 feet ins April, 2017 (US Department of Commerce, N/A).
    The river is capable of canoes, kayaks, and small boats, but nothing larger. The quality of the water is generally good but approximately 30% of the wells in the lowlands have nitrates (Cieslewicz, 2004). Having multiple floods a year causes erosion which weakens the river banks, but it is a natural occurrence. Some private landowners have tried armoring, channeling, and hard points but the MDC (Missouri Department of Conservation) hasn’t installed any improvement projects (Cieslewicz, 2004).
    Overall, I have always enjoyed Black River and will always be a special place to me. Even though it floods regularly, people will continue to enjoy this river in a recreational way. To me it has always been a clean and clear river that I will continue to go to. The river will continue to change especially with floods, but it will always be a place for families to enjoy.

    Cieslewicx, Paul. “Black River: Watershed Inventory and Assesment.” Missouri Department of Conservation. February 2004. Accessed September 16, 2018. https://mdc.mo.gov/sites/default/files/watersheds/BlackRiver030.pdf.
    “GNIS Detail – Black River.” Geographic Names Information System (GNIS), 1 Jan. 2000, geonames.usgs.gov/apex/f?p=gnispq:3:::NO::P3_FID:66965.
    US Department of Commerce, and NOAA. “National Weather Service Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service.” Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service. Accessed September 16, 2018. https://water.weather.gov/ahps2/hydrograph.php?wfo=lsx&gage=annm7.

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  8. The Arkansas River
    Environmental Profile: “At 1,450 miles, the Arkansas is the longest tributary in the Mississippi-Missouri system” (USGS). At some points in Colorado and western Kansas the river can be completely dry, although it’s very shallow the river is very wide in some places where it is as much as 1-mile wide. The river gradually deepens as it approaches Wichita (USGS).
    Human interaction: The river is considered by the U.S. National Park Service one of its National Water Trails (How to Explore the Arkansas River in Wichita). Although this river is fit to be a very good resource for nature lovers, there are not many opportunities to explore the river. Currently the only time that most Wichitans interact with the river is during the annual Riverfest that celebrates the river, by having food and concerts on the river. This is the only time of year that structured events happen in the water, there are boats and jet skiing races in the river during this 10 day period. For the rest of the year there is limited interaction with the river, motorized vehicles are not allowed in the river, and until revently there was no place to rent any sort of small boat or kayak. The river is becoming a more popular place in Kansas, within the past decade there has been a construction of over 200 apartments and lofts along the river, and new developments are continuing to pop up.
    Flooding Potential: Several human interventions to the river have made flooding along the river very unlikely. The construction of the Valley Center Flood Way was instrumental in diverting flood water and preventing damage. There is also a series of 12 irrigation canals father north and west near Colorado that lessens the flow of water.
    Transport Systems: Due to its generally shallow nature the river has not been used for transportation.
    Connectivity: At a regional scale the Arkansas River provides connections only through resource management, as the different states and cities have to communicate and respect each other’s need for the water in this river. At the local scale the river is used mostly as some thing to look and be close to but there is not much exploration in the water. There are some good trails along the river for running, strolling or bike riding. There is some fishing in the river, but not on a frequent basis. In terms of lateral connectivity, the river is quite wide (275 feet), but there are several bridges for pedestrians and cars that serve as the only way to cross the river.
    Suggestions For Improvement: In my opinion there should be more designed experiences along the river. Ideally the river could be more naturalized but in order to ensure more bank stability near the downtown core it has already been heavily engineered. So the river front in the down town core should be redesigned to include more programed spaces, and include more opportunities to enter the water for active participations. There should also be more opportunities further down the river where it is less structured in the parks and green spaces along the river.

    “Arkansas River – New World Encyclopedia.” n.d. Accessed September 16, 2018. http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Arkansas_River.
    “Historic Floods Along Arkansas River.” n.d. Accessed September 16, 2018. https://www.usgs.gov/centers/kswsc/science/historic-floods-along-arkansas-river?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects.
    “How to Explore the Arkansas River in Wichita | The Wichita Eagle.” n.d. Accessed September 16, 2018. https://www.kansas.com/news/local/article204951304.html.
    Google Earth

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  9. Meramec River

    The Meramec river is a freshwater tributary located in Missouri that runs into the Mississippi. Over time, urban and suburban development, mining and wrongful livestock usage have caused the river to fall victim to erosion and sediment buildup, habitat disturbance and nutrient loading. While it was once known for being the most polluted river in the state, over 40 conservancy plans have been drafted and enacted over the years. Currently, the Nature Conservancy is working on the Meramec River Conservation Action Plan which will provide a plan for how those in the future can protect the river against erosion, contamination and loss of wildlife. Thanks in part to these conservation efforts, the Meramec river is home to over 300 species of wildlife, many of which are rare and have global significance. A diverse group of fish make up the bulk of the river’s unique wildlife profile.

    People interact with the Meramec in many ways. Since development has spread over the banks, the river is a convenient source of drinking water for over 70,000 households in the St. Louis area. Recreationally, it is most known for floating, tubing or rafting, which can be done almost all year. Many people take advantage of numerous fishing areas that can be accessed by boat or from the bank. Additionally, the river runs through numerous state parks and forested areas with nearby trails that allow hikers to access the river. The sides are often characterized by rocky cliffs that allow adventurous folks the chance to jump from greater heights.

    Recently, the Meramec has experienced several enormous flood events that have damaged the surrounding areas. The river is free flowing and does not have any engineered dams or flood control systems. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers is working on creating plans for people in the floodplains to deal with these events.

    Historically, the Meramec river was used as a transport route for iron, lead and timber. The products were taken on flatboats and shallow steam boats to the Mississippi. Currently, there is no formal means of transportation on the river- only recreational. People take river boat cruises, rent kayaks or bring their own boats, rafts and tubes.

    The Meramec river is home to boundless longitudinal activities such as floating, canoeing, boating or biking/running/hiking along the banks. The possibilities in this area are endless. Vertically, swimming, fishing and cliff jumping are all popular attractions. However, the river does not provide much in the way of latitudinal access. Most areas are surrounded on both sides by dense forests or suburban developments, allowing only visual access across the stream. Some areas provide bridges for vehicles but not people.

    While the Meramec has many wonderful qualities, there are necessary improvements that can be made. Certain stretches of the river can be extremely dangerous for swimmers. For instance, at one junction of the Meramec with Castlewood State Park, a person drowns on average once a year despite no-swimming signs. Most of the victims are teenagers from the city who are not strong swimmers. However, the warning signs don’t prevent people from staying out of the dangerous water. Better signage and education in the park could possibly prevent these deaths. Additionally, measures should be taken to reduce flooding during major storm events. These measures don’t have to be engineered- rather, a look should be taken at the natural processes of the water to assess where floodwater could be diverted. Lastly, more education on how to keep the river clean and free from contamination would benefit nearby residents.

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  10. My river of choice is the Straight river of southern Minnesota reaching from Faribault to Owatonna. The straight river flows north meandering through what is majority farmland towards its mouth on the Cannon River. The Straight River is a part of the Mississippi watershed and eventually, it’s watered make it to the Mississippi and eventually the Gulf Coast. One of the major cities which the Straight river flows through is Owatonna, which is a modern interpretation of the original name the native American tribe gave to the river, Wakpá Owóthaŋna, directly translate to “Straight river.” Many believe this oxymoron, in it that the river is quoted to be one of the crooked in the entire state, not having a single straight length in its entirety. When in fact it the river runs almost perfectly south to north across most of both Steele and Rice county.

    The naming convention comes from its rich history with trade and open interactions of commerce between the native American tribes, Dakota ‘Sioux’, Ojibwa ‘Chippewa’ and the white settlers and fur traders. The Straight river was a well-established area that provided a surplus of animals and their prized pelts. This history isn’t as acknowledged as of late and the cities association with the native American tribes that where once living in the area has since parted ways.

    The river itself runs more than 30 miles which are relatively short in comparison to most river bodies, but if the river where to be stretched out or measured along its centerline, it would be more than 55 miles in length. The width typically ranges between 30 to an 80-foot width and from 1 to 4 feet in depth most times throughout the year. There are noticeable signs of erosion along areas of low grassy banks and adjacent to land produce agricultural lands. This cause an increased sediment load which builds up in the riverbed over the course of the year but is annually cleansed during the spring when the river flows at a much higher intensity and often when flooding occurs. The river makes its way through two large cities Owatonna and Faribault where it has been artificially widened to accommodate recreational activities but most of it flows through small rural communities like mine and large swaths of open fields, farmland and grazing pastures. Where it takes on a more pastoral and intimate character, much narrowed also to that of the classification of a stream or creek, whose banks are lined with large old growth trees who canopy stretch across and cover the water with their canopy.

    The Straight river offers several recreational activities most of which are seasonal, each with their own character and following. The most common activities are designated camping areas along the river, with canoeing and kayaking access as well as fishing. With the rise in popularity, some of the parks along the river have included disc golf course that strategically use the river to add difficulty and appeal. During the winter months, the river freezes and is used for skating rink, hockey, and curling. Within my friend group and some of the smaller towns bow fishing, opposed to traditional fishing methods, has gained popularity and before vital conservational activities that has lessened the number of Asian carp and alligator gar which are much more hardy than traditional sports fish. I would say the activity the river is less know for is swimming, not necessarily because of fear of pollutants in the water but rather due to the current and the lack of depth in most populated areas.
    Due to some of outdated flood prevention methods and poor placement of dams and levees within the body of water areas down the river experience more severe flooding that current trend is increasing. A major flood that occurred September 2010 when the combination of a wet summer and over-saturated soil along with heavy rains during the time of the river cresting caused immense flooding and dangerous current levels in the river. This flood changed a lot of the character of the river and reshaped much of its vegetated edge. After this some strategies to lessen the potential for flooding where introduce from specialties provided by the state and updates to the damn near the Owatonna powerplant to better regulate and create of a more consistent rate of flow for the river. Surprisingly, a lot of the houses damaged, and other buildings affected by the flooding were rebuilt in the same area and will almost nothing to prevent or inhibit future damages.

    As previously stated the river currently is used for recreational activities like Kayaking, canoeing and on occasion floating trips on innertubes. To the best of my knowledge, there aren’t any commercial uses of the river for lumber or other harvests like there were in the past. Historically the river was widely used for fur trapping and as a significant trade route. A large majority of native American tribes frequented the greater area around the river for hunting and fishing as well. The Straight River is one of the few to run north in this area of southern Minnesota and due to this fact was almost used as a superhighway of sorts to move large sums of pelts north the trading station in Faribault. Other uses but not necessarily for transportation directly where flour mills that ran on the power generated by the river’s current. Then the flour was transported out into villages and settlements via the river and stream networks along with most other dry goods.

    The conceptual premise of fluvial connectivity is broken up into four dimensions or classifications in which the river can be diagnosed. Those being the longitudinal or linear connections, lateral or floodplain, vertical or hyporheic (what occurs below the bed of a stream), and lastly the temporal (time) which can be measured as seasonal, multiyear, or generational. The all of these are applicable to the Straight River and how it changes along its length and width and over time. Throughout the lengthen of the river the horizontal crossing of the river is via bridges and vehicular overpasses. I would say the greatest impact would be its longitudinal connectivity and the variety of transportation methods that occur along either side of the river. On one side of the river weaves its way along I-35 which runs all the way down to Kansas City and on the other is a much smaller country road and set of railroad tracks. Throughout the lengthen of the river the horizontal crossing of the river is via bridges and vehicular overpasses.

    Currently, the area I’m most familiar with the Straight river is the stretch that runs through the Medford park. This area is one that I feel has experienced a lot of changes as of late that have a direct effect on the flow of the river. In the early 2000’s an existing bridge was renovated and included the addition of pillars in the water, and which the last year or so a new commercial truck fueling station was built in an area that use to be used for flood overflow. After some of the damage that occurred during the 2010 floods, I don’t necessarily agree with the potential economic gain of these verses’ potential influx in flooding. Some improvements to this stretch could be the trail system along the river’s edge that connects to the Owatonna trail network, educational signage on the rivers history and designated fishing areas. Currently, most of the river’s edge to too densely covered in trees to even get to the river, or there are a chain link fences as a barrier from the edge of the water. I think some of the restoration methods along the river could include a study of areas in which the river is getting polluted or excess chemicals from farms are getting into the water, also studying the areas of elevated erosion along the banks and seeing what the potential causes are and where different methods could be implemented to help decrease this in the future.

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