The Yampa River, a tributary to the Green River, is the last undammed major tributary in the upper Colorado River Basin. The Yampa River at Deerlodge is actively braiding in an unconfined park valley setting, just upstream of the confined Yampa Canyon in Dinosaur National Monument. Deerlodge is a critical indicator site, which is monitored closely for signs of potential channel narrowing and associated invasions of non-native tamarisk or salt cedar (Tamarix) by the National Park Service's Northern Colorado Plateau Network (NPS-NCPN). Like many rivers draining the Rockies, the Yampa was fed by record snowpack in this year's spring runoff and produced the second largest flood of record at 748 cms (largest food of record was 940 cms in1984). In contrast to most major rivers in the Colorado Basin, which are now dammed, the Yampa's natural, unregulated floods are thought to be of critical importance in rejuvenating the floodplain and reorganizing habitat in a manner favorable to native riparian vegetation and unfavorable to tamarisk. As part of the Big Rivers Monitoring Protocol, a 1.5 km reach of the braided river was surveyed with sub-centimeter resolution ground-based LiDaR and a total station in September of 2010 and was resurveyed after the 2011floods. The ground-based LiDaR captures the vegetation as well as topography. Additionally, vegetation surveys were performed to identify plant species present, percent covers and relative abundance before and after the flood. The Geomorphic Change Detection software was used to distinguish the real net changes from noise and segregate the budget by specific mechanisms of geomorphic change associated with different channel and vegetative patterns. This quantitative study of the morphodynamic response to a major flood highlights a critical potential positive feedback the flood plays on native riparian vegetation recruitment and potential negative feedback on non-native tamarisk.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/joseph_wheaton/97/