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Potential Hazards

    Additional things to watch out for to avoid future problems:

    • Steep or vertical bank without vegetation cover: Vegetation protects banks from erosion. A steep bank without vegetation is undergoing active erosion and indicates channel movement.


    This bank is bare of vegetation and being eroded. The grassy area behind the bank is not safe for development, as it will soon be threatened with erosion.

    Maintaining robust vegetation cover – shrubs and trees, not lawns – along the river bank should always be your first choice in protecting your property from erosion. Lawns are not sufficient to prevent erosion.





    • Evidence of downslope movement of soil: both along streams and in upland areas

    Downslope movement of soil (sloughing) indicates that an area is undergoing active erosion.




    • Ice jams: Rivers freeze in Montana! Ice jams are sudden floods caused by ice buildup on rivers causing the water to backup into the floodplain. Talk to your neighbors and your conservation district to learn if your area is prone to ice jams. The dangers of ice jams further reinforce the importance of building at a safe distance away from the river bank. This website maps ice jams across the state and has more information.
    Ice Jam on the Yellowstone River in Montana (Source: NPS)
    • Outside bends: River bends are where erosion and deposition are actively occurring. Outside bends tend to propagate down the channel. Building near an outside bend is hazardous and should be avoided.
    A house built at the outside of this bend would have been gone in a few years
    This property is being destroyed by the river’s movement toward the outside of a bend


    Buying Land and Selecting a Construction Site
    1. Wildfires
    2. Buying Land and Selecting Construction Site
    3. Floodplains
    4. Septic Systems
    5. Potential Hazards
    6. Earthquakes
    7. River Movement
    8. Water Supply
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