Invisible Rivers Booklet

Page 1

MOST OF THE WATER IN THE SNAKE RIVER IS NOT IN THE RIVER —

IT’S IN THE GRAVEL. The Snake River is Jackson’s Hole’s largest gravel-bed river ecosystem.


AN INVISIBLE RIVER RUNS BENEATH THE ENTIRE VALLEY FLOOR The Snake River doesn’t just flow down the visible river channel. It flows underground through the cobble, gravel and sand that make up the entire valley bottom — from valley wall to valley wall.

Underground floodplains are the foundation of a healthy river “immune system”. Interaction between surface water in the river and groundwater throughout the valley is fundamental to the health of the Snake River ecosystem.

Learn more: POWJH.ORG/SNAKERIVER


THE SNAKE RIVER FLOODPLAIN SUPPORTS OUR ENTIRE ECOSYSTEM From Bugs to Bears, wildlife relies on a healthy Snake River. Research shows a large number of species rely heavily on the biodiversity generated by gravel-bed river ecosystems like the Snake River, not just fish and other aquatic species. The subterranean habitat of the Snake River floodplain is the foundation of a food chain that nourishes microbes and aquatic insects, and plant life such as willows, cottonwood, and aspen, which in turn sustain fish, birds and beavers, elk and moose, and consequently wolves and grizzly bears.


G

F

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E RE

HC

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C

B A

(A) Microbes in the spaces between sand and gravel process organic matter. (B) Crustaceans and insects inhabit the gravels of the floodplain. (C) Fish spawn in floodplain gravels. (D) Upwelling underground waters moderate the temperature of surface habitats.

(E) Birds prey on insects and fish. (F) Ungulates consume floodplain vegetation. (G) Wolves den along floodplain banks. (H) Grizzly bears and other carnivores use the floodplain for predation. Source: Science Advances Vol 2, No. 6 (6/3/2016)

Learn more: POWJH.ORG/SNAKERIVER


NUTRIENT POLLUTION GREATLY AFFECTS INVISIBLE RIVERS Nutrient pollution issues affecting our water quality - such as septic systems on the valley floor and using groundwater to dilute pollutants - affect the health of the entire underground floodplain immune system. This alters the foundation of the ecosystem and causes repurcussions for the entire food chain. PLUMBING VENT

SEPTIC TANK

LEACHFIELD/DRAINFIELD

EFFLUENT ABSORPTION & PURIFICATION

GROUNDWATER

These harmful effects — coupled with longer summers, reduced water flows, and warmer water and air temperatures — are greatly diminishing the resilience of gravel-bed rivers, like the Snake River in Jackson Hole.

Learn what you can do to prevent nutrient pollution: POWJH.ORG/LANDSCAPE


HUMAN ACTIVITIES ARE WEAKENING THE IMMUNE SYSTEM OF THE SNAKE RIVER The impact of human development on top of our invisible rivers includes severe impacts to the floodplain ecosystem, reducing the resilience of both aquatic and terrestrial species, including adaptation to climate change. Homebuilding, dam construction, over-fertilization, irrigation, and channelization may be slowly choking highly dynamic river systems — and the biodiversity that depends on them — to death. POWJH is working to mitigate these negative impacts.

MISSION

DONATE ONLINE

TO SERVE AS A POWERFUL ADVOCATE FOR PROTECTING AND RESTORING THE SURFACE WATERS AND GROUNDWATER IN TETON COUNTY, WYOMING.

Help protect our invisible river: POWJH.ORG/DONATE

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