Highlights in the changing resource perception and land use of the Willamette River flood plain, Albany-Corvallis area Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/5q47rt339

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  • Taking advantage of a favorable physical system but also risking the hazards of flooding, man has long occupied flood plain land. He has attempted to adjust rivers to his needs in order to reduce flood loss, but the rising cost of flood protection accompanied by an increase in flood damage potential warrants that a course of human adjustment be undertaken on occupied flood plains. The flood plain of the Willamette River between Albany and Corvallis, Oregon provides an opportunity to study the resource use of a flood plain in a relatively youthful stage of economic development, having the physical as sets and limitations of most flood plains. By studying the physical system and changing resource utilization of this flood plain, an evaluation has been made of the present and possible future use of its resource base. Land use has evolved from a primitive stage of hunting, fishing, and gathering to intensive agricultural endeavors with some residential and commercial development. Resource utilization during the same period has changed from a dependence on the flora and fauna for food and clothing to a dependence on the soil and climate, flood protection, markets, labor, and so forth. The change has been towards a more intensive, higher valued use of the land with more sophisticated land management practices. A relatively satisfactory arrangement of land use presently exists on the Albany-Corvallis flood plain; however, present land use practices in the study area reflect a rational use of flood subjected land primarily because the pressures of industrial and commercial development have not yet been heavily felt. Residential expansion, however, has taken place at an alarming rate. Many of the human adjustments suggested by Gilbert White in his flood plain studies at the University of Chicago are applicable to a future course of orderly occupance for the Albany-Corvallis flood plain. One of the more applicable local forms of adjustment is the directing of flood plain use which involves land elevation, land use regulation, structural modifications, flood insurance, relief, and better warning systems. The construction of engineering works for flood abatement represents the traditional form of river adjustment in the Willamette Basin. The building of storage dams upstream of the study area has lowered the height of the flood crest but has also given many flood plain dwellers a feeling of false security. Channel improvements and bank revetments are the main form of river adjustment in the study area, and they help to reduce the danger of crop drowning and to control bank erosion.
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