Flooding at Reflection Riding: An Important Wetland Process

February 17th, 2020


You might have noticed that it’s been raining just a bit over the last couple of weeks.  Spring has come early this year and it’s that season where we watch the water rise as Lookout Creek swells. If you stop by, you’ll see that the treehouse is not accessible right now, and some of our trails have temporarily become one with Lookout Creek. Most years, we deal with flooding - it’s a natural and welcome part of our landscape. And don’t worry, our Animal Ambassadors are always relocated long before the water gets high.

One of the things that makes Reflection Riding so unique is that it houses a variety of landscapes — including swampy areas. The floodplain under the boardwalk is a naturally occurring environment and is integral to many amphibians, fish, and birds as a nursery, source of food, and home; it’s also nature’s sponge. Floodplains and swamps purify water by absorbing waste and runoff into the soil and roots of plants, and what the plants do not use gradually collects at the bottom of the swamp as sediment. They also absorb excess water as levels begin to rise, limiting the damaging effects of flooding

So while flooding is a natural occurrence that we consider a seasonal norm here, it is also important to note that floods become much more damaging once wetlands, our natural barriers, are removed. Wetlands are one of the most biodiverse places on earth! We are proud to protect them. In our upcoming Master Planning process, we will consider the entire property, including the floodplain and placement of structures, to respect the importance of this area (and not have a treehouse half-full of water). 

We hope you’ll continue to support our work protecting wetlands, and much more as we reconnect Chattanoogans to nature. There are so many ways to get involved - you can donatebecome a membervolunteer, even remember Reflection Riding in your estate plans. You might even head out this weekend to see the flooding -  it’s pretty amazing. If you can’t make it out, or even if you can, check out these drone pictures from one of our supporters, Jeff Guenther. There’s nothing as amazing as seeing Mother Nature at work. 


Mark McKnight



PS - Check out this cool article about swamps from Nat Geo, too: https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/swamp/

Posted by Mark McKnight
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