Two years ago, beavers moved in and are now putting their own engineering skills to work on the creek. And Bernheim officials couldn’t be happier.
“There are not a lot of beavers living in places that let beavers do what beavers do,” said Andrew Berry, the forest manager at Bernheim.
The creek now has “incredible biodiversity,” aided in part by the addition of new beaver dams that have created a couple of beaver ponds. The ponds are great for birds, amphibians and reptiles, he said. The area has attracted raccoon, river otters and birds of prey.
Before you go assuming that this ecologically minded beaver-savvy article is from Washington State or even Dr. Hood in Alberta, allow me to inform you that this is from Kentucky, the home of our dear friend and wunderkind Ian Timothy. The young creator of the Beaver Creek series and champion of the Draught Park beavers says that Berheim Forest is a great place to be, one of the places where he started his love of nature and he is not at all surprised that they recognize beaver gifts when they see them.
The altered Wilson Creek had functioned more like a swift-moving drainage channel atop bedrock, leaving it less friendly to aquatic life. It also hasn’t been restoring nutrients to the hollow’s soils.
Even Bernheim Forest had prevented trees from returning to the valley for decades by planting corn and other food crops for deer, before deciding a more natural approach would be better. Now that natural approach is in full bloom, so to speak.
The creek has room to spread out, and when it does, it deposits nutrients across the flood plain. Trees have grown tremendously during the last decade, some reaching more than 20 feet into the air.
One of the most striking features is the clarity of the water. I have seen a lot of creeks and rivers in Kentucky, and they often are choked with sediment. This water was clear enough to see the bottom a few feet down to the bottom of the beaver ponds.
Ahhh crystal clear waters and living creeks! You mean like this?
Congratulations Kentucky, you have decided to listen to your beavers and that makes you almost as smart as the 15 year old boy who made this years ago….and is now heading off to college. Sniff.