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Local experts worry the Willow Lakes development may also increase damaging floods in the area

Flooding risk could increase with the proposed Willow Lakes development
Lukas Hron
Flooding risk could increase with the proposed Willow Lakes development

Frank Howe is an associate professor at USU and the chair of the Logan River Task Force, a group improving the Logan River’s health and accessibility. Howe said he’s concerned about the Willow Lakes Holdings subdivision plans, as the large development’s footprint is set directly within the Logan River’s floodplain.

“The 100 year flood in that particular area is virtually the entire thing…so, almost the entire footprint would be within the 100 year floodplain except a little bit up by 1100 south,” Howe said.

One hundred years may sound like a lot, but with increasing climate variability caused by climate change, Howe said large floods may become more frequent. Additionally, local experts estimate smaller-scale flooding in the area every few years, and Howe argued floodplain habitat is critical to controlling the floodwaters.

“It absorbs the floodwaters in the spring, and then slowly releases those floodwaters through the summer. And if you don't have that flood absorption capacity, that water's got to go somewhere. One of our biggest concerns is that there are going to be flood issues, if not at the development itself, because those houses will all be built on large piles of fill, with the neighbors…which includes the city and Trapper Park,” Howe explained.

In addition to impacts on human-made structures, Howe worries wildlife habitat, including that required by a federally threatened orchid species, may be impacted.

“If you take all that floodplain function away, you're gonna have a lot of problems, not just flooding problems, but problems with the wildlife habitat that's there, problems with the fish habitat that's there…and there are also some potential issues there with the federally listed species, Ute ladies’-tresses,” Howe said.

Stay tuned for more about the Willow Lakes development in this ongoing series. More information about the proposal and previous Logan River flooding.

Aimee Van Tatenhove is a science reporter at UPR. She spends most of her time interviewing people doing interesting research in Utah and writing stories about wildlife, new technologies and local happenings. She is also a PhD student at Utah State University, studying white pelicans in the Great Salt Lake, so she thinks about birds a lot! She also loves fishing, skiing, baking, and gardening when she has a little free time.
Ellis Juhlin is a science reporter here at Utah Public Radio and a Master's Student at Utah State. She studies Ferruginous Hawk nestlings and the factors that influence their health. She loves our natural world and being part of wildlife research. Now, getting to communicate that kind of research to the UPR listeners through this position makes her love what she does even more. In her free time, you can find her outside on a trail with her partner Matt and her goofy pups Dodger and Finley. They love living in a place where there are year-round adventures to be had!