A tributary of the Atchafalaya River and Mississippi River, the Red River of the South, lies in the southern part of the United States of America. The Red River is one of the second largest river basins, and it lies on the southern side of the Great Plains. The River is 2,190 kilometers long, and it is known to drain an area of around 2,41,000 square kilometers. The main tributaries of the Red River of the South are North Fork of the Red, Little, Black, the Kiamichi, Wichita, Sulphur, and Pease River, etc.
The Red River witnessed the long history of the diverse culture of Native Americans. The number of historical tribes of the Caddoan Confederacy used to dominate the eastern side of the Piney Woods. Moreover, they had ample of land for the cultivation of stable crops as well as for fishing in this area. The Tonkawa and the Wichita tribes dominated the middle area of the Red River. The Lipan Apache inhabited the western side of the Red River in the 18th century, until the time they got replaced by the Comanche from the northern side. In the year 1806, President of America Thomas Jefferson flagged off the “Red River Expedition” to explore the land of Louisiana Purchase by traveling to the Red River. The maze of the bayous and Great Raft of the lodged driftwood threaded at River’s confluence, but the Spanish stopped this expedition near modern day Boston in Texas. In 1944, the Denison Dam was completed on the Red River to form the Lake Texoma.
During the period of heavy run-off, the Clay County above the Red River provides the place for recreation. The Lake Texoma, formed by the building of Denison Dam on the Red River, is managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers. This lake carries an economic impact in the region of south-central Oklahoma as is used for flood control and recreation purpose of the tourists. The grazing of livestock and production of crops such as corn, wheat and cotton takes place in the upper region of the Red River. Many botanists have also explored the area because of its rare plant species, and even orchards and rice fields are found in the region.
Habitat and Biodiversity
The Red River provides a rich habitat for species like the blue catfish and the striped bass that are seen in this area. Other species of animals found in the area around the river are white-tailed deer, Rio Grande turkey, black-tailed jackrabbit, Texas horned lizard, western diamondback rattlesnake, mourning dove, northern bobwhite quail and much more. The birds seen around the Red River area include waterfowl, neotropical migrant songbirds, red-headed woodpecker, etc.
Environmental Threats and Territorial Disputes
Flooding of the land in the Red River basin is a constant threat to the lives and property in the region. Depletion of vegetation along the course of the river for developmental activities also leads to heightened chances of flooding.