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Get to Know Your Closest Neighbor

A G u i d e f o r F lo o d p l a i n H o m e ow n e r s

You Know & Love

the Big Wood River.
Your Choices Can Protect Its
Future and Your Property
Riparian setbacks are building River-friendly waterfront property:
setbacks defined by local govern- Siting homes further away from the river’s

The Big Wood River Understanding ments that create a buffer zone to
protect plants and animals living
edge and leaving native trees and plants
on the banks lessens these homes’ impact
The Big Wood River’s floodplain is home to unique and the Floodplain along the river as well as the river
itself; setbacks also help protect
on the river. It also protects homes from
high water and protects habitat for elk,
important plants and wildlife. You have likely seen elk,
property from flooding. moose, birds, and other species.
moose, fox, and a variety of birds along the river; you A floodplain is the flat land along
may even fish from your own backyard. As a floodplain a stream or river. Floodplains are
homeowner, you experience the beauty and unique often filled by water during spring
Sheet flooding, the shallow, slow-
qualities of the area first-hand. moving water that occurs during
runoff or other high water events.
high flows, is a healthy floodplain
The natural processes that make the river such a desirable occurrence. Floodplain homeown-
neighbor—the sound of rushing water, the wildlife it A floodway is the channel ers should be prepared to protect
attracts, and the lush plant life it nurtures—may also lead through which the majority of a homes and other structures by
to flooding and bank erosion that can damage private flood’s waters move. placing sandbags or flood bladders
property in the floodplain. Your actions can protect your within 5-10 feet of the structure.
property while preserving important aspects of the river’s The riparian area is a transitional These safeguards should not restrict
natural functions. One of the best ways to protect your area between land and water sheet flooding that occurs during
home and the river is to use native landscaping. ecosystems, such as the area spring’s high water.
This brochure provides information about the importance adjacent to a river. Riparian areas,
of the floodplain’s function in our valley and describes how though small in size, provide a large
the use of native landscaping can protect your property percentage of the wildlife habitat
and the floodplain for birds, moose, deer, fox, and other
species throughout the year.

Waterfront property:
These homes are sited closer
The Natural to the river, and native
River has many vegetation has been cleared
components that Floodway for lawns going up to the
contribute to River Channel river’s edge. These practices
its health. can require expensive,
artificial bank reinforcement
to protect property from
Floodplain erosion and flooding and do
Riparian area not protect wildlife or the
riparian area.

Photos provided by Conservation Seeding and Restoration, Inc. unless otherwise noted.
Native Landscaping Resources for Floodplain Living:
• Conservation Seeding For more information or a
Native landscaping is beautiful and attracts an array of birds,
complete list of recommended
insects, and wildlife. Once established, native plants use & Restoration, Inc. plants to use in the floodplain, contact
less water and require less maintenance than non-native Wood River Land Trust at 788-3947 or
plants. They also help protect against flood risks by slowing • Blaine Soil Conservation District
go to www.woodriverlandtrust.org.
high flows and stabilizing river banks. Native landscaping is • Sawtooth Botanical Gardens
important both inside and outside the floodplain. Remember to contact your local
• Hailey Nursery government to learn the specific


riparian setback requirements and other

Photo: Robert H. Mohlenbrock

While some steps towards native landscaping in the floodplain
Benefits to Birds take planning, others can be implemented easily and with
• Webb, employee owned
regulations that apply to your property
before adding or restoring decks, yards,
little expense. Native plants preserve the land’s health,
and Insects: beautify your property, and are hardy and easy to maintain.
structures, landscaping, or building a
new home.
In addition to being beautiful and
low-maintenance, native landscaping
also attracts insects, birds, and
wildlife. Owls, dragonflys, and Three Examples of How to Use Native Vegetation: This home’s native landscaping offers river access
butterflys are all part of a healthy
and increased flood protection.
plant/river relationship. Bank stabilizers for use along the river and in the

s 20 feet beyond the river’s high water mark*:

Coyote willow, River birch, Bog birch, Redosier
dogwood, Chokecherry, Streambank wheatgrass
top: Cinquifoil, Columbine

middle: Redosier dogwood
For use in the 20-40 feet beyond the stream bank*: Cottonwoods Cottonwoods

bottom: Phlox
Booth willow, Geyers willow, Aspen, Alder-leafed
buckthorn, Gooseberries, Currants, Elderberry,
Photo: Jerry W. Britton

Serviceberry, Snowberry, Lewis’ mockorange

For use as ground cover*: Meadow foxtail, Idaho fescue,

s Bluebunch wheatgrass, Rocky Mountain iris, Asters,

Bluebells, Western valerian, Sticky geranium, Creeping
potentilla, Yellow monkey flower, Columbine

* Contact riparian experts or environmental consultants to determine


Woods Rose
100 year flood

Annual spring rise

Low water level
the best site-specific plantings for your property. Native flowers
Redosier Dogwood
Willows Sedges
Building setback not drawn to scale. Willows
What You Can Do
Simple landscaping steps you can The floodplain plays a critical role in clean
undertake now: water, wildlife habitat, and a healthy river
q Preserve native vegetation along the stream system. The floodplain:
bank and throughout your floodplain property y Keeps our water clean and acts like a sponge
q Incorporate a few native plants into this to store water in the aquifer; our communities
year’s plantings use water from the aquifer for drinking water
q Keep our water clean by using organic y Allows the river to move naturally and keeps

inh abitants fertilizers and pesticides our cottonwood forest healthy

& its q Pass this information along to a neighbor

or friend
y Provides habitat and food for birds, moose,
elk, fox, and other wildlife
lan Landscaping steps that require planning: Native plants within the floodplain, in

q Use native plants to replace non-native plants addition to being beautiful, protect this
little by little over time sensitive area and provide a home for fish

q Exceed setback requirements to avoid the need and wildlife. Native trees, shrubs, and

for rip-rap and to give wildlife room to roam other plants:
, ever-changing
q Fence off the riparian area and stream bank y Filter our water to remove impurities
m ic s th at during construction to protect them from
a sy st e m y Attract birds, insects, and wildlife

re dyn soil erosion and compaction caused by y Help protect the banks from erosion during
Rivers a
large machinery high flows
q Use water-permeable asphalt or other pervious y Shade the river and keep it cool in
materials for driveways and patios to encourage summer when trout are vulnerable to
recharge of the aquifer high temperatures
q Use large, in-stream wood instead of riprap to
stabilize the riverbank Don’t forget about native trees when creating
q Limit paths to the river and construct them your landscaping plan!
with hand tools to reduce soil compaction Cottonwood trees are another component of healthy
floodplains. Cottonwoods eventually fall into the river
Western, rivers, including the Big Wood, have been and create log jams and pools where fish can rest, feed,
impacted by development. Above Magic Reservoir, however, the and hide, and they slow the erosive action of high flows.
Big Wood River is free-flowing with many sections that are healthy and Log jams in the river and native vegetation along the
undisturbed. We can act now to ensure it remains a gem in the west and banks work together to protect stream banks from flood
provides our community with clean water, abundant recreation, healthy wildlife, damage and assist with groundwater recharge.
and a refreshing respite from our dry mountain clime.
Protecting and restoring our natural lands and healthy waters since 1994.
Get to Know Your
Closest Neighbor
A Guide for
F lo o d p l a i n H o m e ow n e r s

You Know & Love

the Big Wood River.
Your Choices Can Protect Its
Future and Your Property

This brochure is produced thanks to a partnership between:

Wood River Resource
and Development