Tuesday, October 9, 2018

ISSUE - FLOODING: Why is river flooding becoming more dramatic you ask?

It's actually a no-brainer. Even those of us who haven't looked closely at the flooding problem intuitively know that it's cooler and wetter in a virgin forest stand and that water is retained there, but drains off quickly from cleared lands.

I remember working for New Brunswick DNR cruising woodlots up around Stanley, NB. We accidentally got a compass bearing wrong and wandered into a virgin Acadian forest with a canopy of towering great trees and a cold, wet forest carpet that was alive with life. Having spent most of the day climbing over the dead remnants of life in clearcuts and roasting in the heat, the change was so remarkable that this event is etched in my mind even after 50 years and was one of the events that started a life-time of concern over the way we manage our natural resources in New Brunswick.


As folks know, spring flooding in the St. John River was a disaster for many, destroying cottages, houses and infrastructure with major costs to individuals and the taxpayers of New Brunswick. 

It seemed that all of the snow melt and spring rains swept off the land in a wild surge creating rapid and record flooding along the river. Indeed that is just what happened. Snow is held within forests for an extended period and this allows for gradual runoff over a longer period of time. Perhaps, like me, you can remember finding unmelted snow deep in the woods as late as June?


Take a look at these two screen captures from Google Earth. The first shows the massive clearing that has taken place along the upper St. John River. Much of this is agricultural and forest clearing ... and as you can see it is extensive. The second image is a closeup of the same area.

After viewing these, should we wonder what is happening. Perhaps we need to spend money on another study?
(Click on the images to enlarge them.)
Upper St. John River - Light areas are cleared along the river.

Closeup of the upper St. John River showing cleared areas.

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