Floodplain Debris (non-woody) & Structure Removal

* Permit not required as long as you are not modifying the floodway, floodplain or wetlands.

* Heavy equipment may be required: Only start demolition that you are comfortable doing yourself; talk to outside help for projects that are larger/more complex than you are comfortable doing on your own.


  • Shovel
  • Saw
  • Demolition equipment

Removal of debris (non-woody) and/or structures in the floodplain can range from the removal of small buildings such as outhouses, to trash, to fences located in the floodplain that could potentially become debris or create a debris dam during a storm event. Woody material in the floodplain is often beneficial to the environment, wildlife and flood conditions. Lasting benefits of non-woody debris removal can include:

• Reduced potential for property damage or future debris
• Protection for downstream infrastructures
• Reduced potential for the stream to change direction
• Reduced chance for clogging crossing structures

Having loose debris or a structure in the floodplain can cause many unwanted impacts during a flood. Because storm flows will reach floodplain areas, a storm event has the potential to wash the debris/structure away, form a debris dam, or find a way around the structure.

During floods, structures in floodplains could become destroyed and swept downstream, which could lead to additional hazardous debris that could pose threats, clog crossings or cause damage to existing infrastructure.

If the structure can resist a flood, it can still pose negative impacts. The storm flow around the structure could cause the entire stream channel to move/shift or damage nearby properties that would have not otherwise been affected by the flood.

IMPORTANT: Only remove debris/structures that are on your property.

Do’s and Dont’s of Debris/Structure Removal



Take care to not impact vegetation, wildlife communities, etc.


Completely remove debris/structure to outside the floodplain


Contact local agencies if you are unsure about the impacts your project will have.


If you observe debris on a neighbor’s property, talk to them and, if you’d like, offer to help.


Don’t disturb wildlife homes – nests, dens, etc.

Don’t release sediment into the stream


Don’t trespass or remove debris on other people’s property


Don’t move debris/structure into other areas still within the floodplain

More Strategies to help accomplish Objectives you identified in the Questionnaires: