A multiscale geomorphic classification was established for the 39-mile, 59-mile, and adjacent segments of the Missouri National Recreational River administered by the National Park Service in South Dakota and Nebraska. The objective of the classification was to define naturally occurring clusters of geomorphic characteristics that would be indicative of discrete sets of geomorphic processes, with the intent that such a classification would be useful in river-management and rehabilitation decisions.
The statistical classification was based on geomorphic characteristics of the river collected from 1999 orthophotography and the persistence of classified units was evaluated by comparison with similar datasets for 2003 and 2004 and by evaluating variation of bank erosion rates by geomorphic class. Changes in channel location and form were also explored using imagery and maps from 1993-2004, 1941 and 1894. The multivariate classification identified a hierarchy of naturally occurring clusters of reach-scale geomorphic characteristics. The simplest level of the hierarchy divides the river from segments into discrete reaches characterized by single and multithread channels and additional hierarchical levels established 4-part and 10-part classifications. The classification system presents a physical framework that can be applied to prioritization and design of bank stabilization projects, design of habitat rehabilitation projects, and stratification of monitoring and assessment sampling programs.