The Missouri River, prior to its modification by man, was known for its shifting channels, high turbidity , and periodic floods. This river, commonly referred to as the "Big Muddy," served as a travelway and thread of life for people and wildlife, alike. The floods that used to occur, often with destructive force, were viewed with awe and dismay by many white settlers. The floods actually served a very important function for the Missouri River valley ecosystem . Floods provided an important exchange of nutrients between the flood plain and the river. Additionally, periodic floods replenished backwaters and scoured, as well as built, sand bar habitat critical for many wildlife species.
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