New study reveals potential river migration concerns in Missoula

MISSOULA, Mont. - A recent study has highlighted new potential hazards for homes near the Clark Fork and Bitterroot Rivers in Missoula. 

The concerns come from channel migration. Where floodplains look at what areas would be under water during a flood, channel migration zones show places where a home could be washed away if it's sitting too close on a riverbank and that bank erodes. 

The study shows where both the Clark Fork and Bitterroot rivers have been in the past, and then looks at erosion rates to predict where the river will move, or possibly jump, in the next hundred years. 

Current homes that need to be mindful are near places like Tower Street, as well as Schmidt Lane where trailers were already moved a couple years ago. 

Missoula Valley Water Quality District Hydrogeologist Elena Evans said this study not only helps in caring for properties, but also the rivers themselves. 

"Knowing that they're going to move, we can give them that room to move," Evans said. "So, we can take care of the water quality, we can take care of our rivers and streams, and we can also ensure that they're not in harm's way, their property is not in harm's way." 

She added this study will mostly be a tool for updating floodplain regulations and future developments because most current homeowners are already aware of the risks. 

People can now access a map online that shows both channel migration zones and floodplains. 

The hydrogeologist encouraged folks to take a look at the map when considering purchasing or developing a home. 

To access the map, click here. 

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