Channel Migration Zones

Rivers and creeks are dynamic systems.  They move and change over time and during different seasons, eroding river banks and creating new channels. Channel migration mapping is a relatively new tool that can help us better understand lateral river and creek movement and predict where rivers and creeks may move in the future. This, in turn, can help landowners and communities prevent sometimes costly and potentially catastrophic damage to property, roads, bridges, and structures.  Understanding the various factors involved in channel migration and how they interact is essential to protecting the health of flowing water systems and the integrity of the adjoining land.



Click the images to see Lolo Creek moving  ——>






Resources with information on Channel Migration Zones

LWG Channel Migration Brochure – A landowner’s guide to managing the impacts of Lolo Creek migration.

Channel Migration 101 – General information, reports and maps, as well as other information about Channel Migration Zones. 

Channel Migration Assessment – This web site provides a scientific method of analysis designed to identify channel migration zones (CMZs) based on historic patterns, and hydrologic and geomorphic factors.

Clark Fork River Channel Migration Zone Study (USFS) – An extensive report on the channel migration of the Clark Fork River including many diagrams and maps showing the channel migration of this river over time.

Yellowstone River Channel Migration Final Report  – A detailed case study of river channel migration providing detailed information about channel migration zones.