Anthropogenic Impacts of Recreational Use on Sandbars in Hells Canyon on the Snake River, Idaho

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Mark D Morehead, Idaho Power Company, Boise, ID, United States
Sandbars along large rivers are important cultural, recreational, and natural resources. In modern, historic and prehistoric times the sandbars have been used for camping, hunting, fishing and recreational activities. Sandbars are a dynamic geomorphic unit of the river system that stores and exchanges sand with the main river channel. Both natural and anthropogenic changes to river systems affect the size, shape and dynamics of sandbars. During high spring flows, the Snake River can resupply and build the sand bars. During the lower flows of the summer and fall the sand is redistributed to lower levels by natural and anthropogenic forces, where it can be remobilized by the river and exported from the bar. During the summer and fall high use season many people camp and recreate on the bars and redistribute the sand. This study utilizes change detection from repeat high resolution terrestrial LiDAR scanning surveys to study the impacts humans have on the sandbars in Hells Canyon. Nearly a decade of annual LiDAR and Bathymetric surveys were used to place these recreational impacts into the context of overall sandbar dynamics.