Because the beaver isn't just an animal; it's an ecosystem!

The Martinez Beavers

The case of the missing water…

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Wetlands drying up in south valley

A series of beaver ponds and picturesque wetlands at the mouth of Croy Canyon near Hailey have gone dry, leaving frozen muddy puddles of water in their place. Several other wetlands in the area have also gone dry this year, leaving many valley residents to wonder what may be the causes.

“Sometimes it can be a little bit of everything,” said Sean Vincent, hydrology section manager of the Idaho Department of Water Resources.The Croy Creek wetlands make up a nature preserve managed by the Wood River Land Trust. The site was once a city dump.

Thanks to industrious beavers, spring creek flows and artesian springs, the area now encompasses several acres and is home to numerous bird and animal species.

Heads are being scratched in Idaho over the wetland that turned into land in Croy creek near the Wood River in Blaine county. In 2009 the Wood River Land Trust undertook a restoration project to restore a landfill by planting trees and building a boardwalk to the tune of some  143,075 dollars.

2009 board meeting notes

When they planted those trees they knew exactly what they were doing because the Trust had started beaver relocation to restore rivers some 15 years earlier.

Check out this incredible article from 2003 – 3 years before beavers came to Martinez and 8 years before Worth A Dam. Honestly when I say you should read the whole thing, I mean it!

Beavers : Idaho’s Wetland Engineers

 Pence, a longtime employee of the Gooding-based Wood River Resource Conservation and Development Area, a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture through which the region’s Beaver Committee was formed in 1986, said beavers not only maintain flourishing riparian ecosystems, they can be used as a tool to efficiently restore degraded stream areas.

 The Beaver Committee over the last 15 years has reintroduced six or seven beavers annually into parts of Blaine and Camas counties, to restore beaver populations and to restore creek ecosystems that were damaged by improper land-management practices. In the last 15 years, some 200 beavers have been moved and planted in various parts of Blaine County, he said.

I find it pretty amazing that years before the ‘beaver solution’ was touted in Washington, a beaver committee existed in Idaho with members from the USDA and Fish and Game. Don’t you?

Todd said Fish and Game officials once aided in the assault, killing beavers and destroying their dams, but now work to ensure the beaver’s well-being in Idaho’s abundant wilderness.

“It used to be the only good beaver was a dead beaver,” Todd said. “We feel like, anymore, it would be a lot better for people to coexist with these animals.”

Pence [USDA] concurred.

“If the beaver were a villain, why did the country once look as lush as it did.”

 This from a state where beaver trapping is allowed nearly half a year and no limit is required. Also one that – when illegal species like the lynx, bobcat, wolverine and fisher are ‘accidetally trapped’ – they can be turned in for a reward of 10 dollars each! (Do you also get a free milk shake with every speeding ticket?) State regulations require the same permit for beaver, badger, otter, fox, and  muskrat, mink and marten and offer this advice for dealing with crazy animal huggers:

CaptureWell, then. I have absolutely NO IDEA why those expensive landfill-hiding wetlands keep drying up!

Lakey said he has heard speculation that the dry wetlands could be the result of the Beaver Creek Fire.“Some thought it was due to the silt that was in the river,” Lakey said.

Vincent said he had not heard of fire-caused silt causing a rapid drop in wetlands water levels.“But it is a plausible hypothesis,” he said.

Vincent said the Big Wood River may have remained higher than usual late last summer because many irrigators did not divert as much water from the Big Wood River, due to the poor water quality.

“There has been a drought, so despite the other causes, there could have still been a drop in the water table,” he said.