How streams & rivers shape land & interact with forests

When we started the Landmark Trees project in 1996, it quickly became obvious that our search for giant trees was mostly a search for a special kind of stream and river deposit, called alluvium. You can approach the study of alluvial landforms and processes from the perspective of a geologist (the “abiotic” angle). Or, as we did, from the perspectives of forest ecology (the “biotic” angle). Given how important this globally important substrate is to forest productivity and riparian energy flow, I assumed a lot had been written about it.

I was wrong. For example, I could find nothing on why exceptionally large trees cluster where streams approach the heads of lakes. Maybe it’s because so little undeveloped alluvial surface remains throughout the world. I guess it’s up to us Southeast Alaskans!

Top: As a geologist sees alluvial landforms. Below: As a naturalist sees them.


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Reading Southeast Alaska’s Landscape


This book tells the constantly evolving story of geology in our region.  It tracks how bedrock forms, how glaciers wax and wane, and how rivers and the sea shape our land.  While the book offers a general introduction to bedrock and surficial geology, it also focuses in on regional geologic highlights.  It is a must-have for nature enthusiasts in Southeast.





Our laminated tri-fold guide to Streamwalking is the guide you’ll want in your pocket when you’re bushwacking in the Tongass.  It covers a variety of common plants and animals of Southeast Alaskan streams and ponds.  Top your waders all you want, it can take a dunk.