How streams & rivers shape land & interact with forests


These illustrations were created for different projects. Upper one was part of a middleschool geology curriculum. Lower one was commissioned by Alaska Dept of Fish & Game for a publication on salmon. I’d been working on Jordan Creek [no Lingít name?], behind Sítʼ Eetí Shaanáx (Glacier Valley Elementary), and was thinking about that dynamic-&-youthful system when laying out the alternating pools and riffles so important to spawning and rearing habitat. Only later did I notice how the snakey meanders in the 2 block diagrams mirrored each other.

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.

In this section

Bishop et al study for Salmon Creek road, 1981

Environmental and cultural assessment for the proposed Salmon Creek road-pipeline development Before I began working with Dan Bishop in 1985,…

1981 | Bishop, Mills, Jacoby and Moore | 95 pages

Fish Creek walkthrough

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2021 | Richard Carstensen, Bob Armstrong | RC-59 pages: BA vid-links

Besse-Cowee journal, 2011

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2011 | Richard Carstensen | 13 pages

Nature near the schools: Landforms

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1990 | Richard Carstensen | powerpoint & script

Digital Fish Creek

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2020 | Richard Carstensen | 2-minute slideshow

Staney Creek

Stream work documentation on Tàan, sea lion (Prince of Wales Island) The Nature Conservancy, US Forest Service, and dozens of…

2020 | Richard Carstensen | 19 minute slideshow

Exploring middle Kax̱digoowu Héen

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2019 | Richard Carstensen | 5-minute slideshow

Kaxdigoowu Héen: Three days on clear water

In 2013 I participated in a 3 day teacher’s conference called STREAM: a Pedagogy of Place. During this “place-based” conference…

2013 | Richard Carstensen | 7 pages

Montana Creek Map Series

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2013 | Richard Carstensen | 22 pages

Montana Creek brochure

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2013 | Richard Carstensen | 2 pages

Repeat photography summary report

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2005: 2nd ed, 2013 | Richard Carstensen, Kathy Hocker | 39 pages

Landmark Trees of Áak’w & T’aakú Aaní

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Reading Southeast Alaska’s landscape

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2013 | Cathy Connor|Richard Carstensen | 28 pages


Our laminated 4-fold guide to Streamwalking is the guide you’ll want in your pocket when you’re sleuthing the borders of…

2003 | Kathy Hocker & Richard Carstensen | 4-fold laminate

2011 spring newsletter: Geology and life

Connections between the living and non-living world Feature article on response of flora and fauna to geologic landforms and bedrock…

Spring 2011 | Richard Carstensen | 12 pages