Archive for November 26th, 2012

Beavers Change Things (Reprise)

Posted by heidi08 On November - 26 - 2012Comments Off

The boardwalk through the wetland and a beaver lodge. Credit Glenda Booth

This was supposed to be Huntley Meadows “crown jewel”. A raised boardwalk through 50 acres of non-tidal wetland where visitors could see great blue heron, snapping turtle, muskrat, otter, and even beaver, who were treated as a fairly appreciated natural feature in the area. The beavers built an excellent dam and lodge in the park right next to a helpful viewing platform for education and everything would have been fine if those dam beavers hadn’t went and moved things around!

Kevin Munroe, Huntley Meadows Park Manager, explains that beavers are building a lodge next to the boardwalk. Credit Glenda Booth

 

 

But the wetland is losing water depth and losing some plants and animals that prefer this type of habitat. The wetland is changing because silt washes in from adjacent neighborhoods and beavers are changing their activities. Beavers are nomadic, Monroe said.

In the late 1970s, beavers built a dam across Barnyard Run, which created a swamp and flooded forest that changed the shallow wet lowland into what is called a hemi-marsh. The hemi-marsh evolved into a lake marsh because of the beaver dam, and then eventually evolved into a dry marsh or wet meadow habitat because of droughts, siltation, beaver movements and natural marsh succession.

Beavers change things. It’s what they do. And after they change things they change them again. And again. One of the best quotes I treasure from Skip Lisle is “The principal of beavers is dynamism“. Which explains why beavers and humans get along so poorly. We want our concrete channels and our set boundaries and our stable levies.

Beavers want change.