By Darren Orf
On a white sand dune, which only a few months ago resembled a barren moonscape, the Missouri River ecosystem is creating new habitat. Close to the Missouri/Nebraska state line, year old cottonwood trees populate around a large watering hole, known in flood management as scour pits, and small islands traverse the shallow water. The sand tells the story. Small insects burrow out of the ground and bird tracks reveal evidence of animal activity.
“Levee failures don’t mean a bad thing,” says Jud Kneuvean, chief of emergency management for the Army Corps of Engineers. Kneuvean says there is reater need to focus on the consequence of the breach, instead of the levee failure itself.
Scour pits form from levee breaks and failures where river water digs huge pits into the soil and spreads sand further inland. Farmers and landowners reclaim many pits by tilling the sand into the soil or removing the sand completely, yet acres of scour pits still remain untouched along the Missouri floodplain.
The environment that springs from these scour pits will continue to develop unless altered by human intervention, Kneuvean says. With so much damage to commercial property from the 2011 flood, flourishing scour pits evoke a sense of ecological balance through environmental chaos.
—Edited by Cade Cleavelin