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Geomorphology in legal affairs of the Binghamton, New York, metropolitan area

By
Donald R. Coates
Donald R. Coates
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Published:
January 01, 1976

The Binghamton area provides many examples of the interface between scientists and land managers. In this paper I use case histories to document the role of the geomorphologist in the decision-making process. Disastrous Binghamton floods in 1935 to 1936 produced a Federal response through the newly enacted Flood Control Act of 1936. Accordingly, the U.S. Corps of Engineers built the only two dams in the Susquehanna Basin, constructed miles of flood walls, and channelized parts of the Susquehanna and Chenango Rivers. Additional geomorphic engineering resulted from Public Law 566 (1954), which enabled the Soil Conservation Service to complete 17 of 22 dam projects. Other Federal laws have financed the Riverbanks Improvement Program of Broome County, New York, and led to municipal ordinances that prohibit new occupancy in flood plains.

Four-lane roads built under the Federal Interstate Highway Program have altered the Binghamton landscape and have led to much litigation. Lands were condemned that contained gravel deposits, water supplies of contiguous properties have been affected, and proper environmental statements are missing in several design plans. The impact statement clause of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 was used by a group of preservationists to halt construction of two I-88 projects. Unfortunately, the work stoppage is causing accelerated erosion of unprotected hillslopes and roadbeds and greater environmental damage than if construction had continued. It is important that the urbanization process receive attention from geomorphologists who can aid in minimizing man-made terrain destruction.

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Contents

GSA Special Papers

Urban Geomorphology

Donald R. Coates
Donald R. Coates
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Geological Society of America
Volume
174
ISBN print:
9780813721743
Publication date:
January 01, 1976

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