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

The Martinez Beavers

There isn’t a BEAVER shortage. Just a beaver DAM shortage.

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Hey! I have an idea! Let’s see what happens when we try to do the work that beavers would do for free if we just stop killing them! Somebody give me a grant!

OSU-Cascades students, scientists make fake beaver dams

BEND, Ore. – By constructing and monitoring artificial beaver dams, scientists and undergraduate students at Oregon State University – Cascades are learning how the health of the surrounding habitat and water can be affected by genuine beaver dams.

CaptureMatt Orr, an assistant professor of biology and Ron Reuter, an associate professor of natural resources at OSU-Cascades are leading the study on the South Fork of the Crooked River in near Paulina, where a team of five undergraduate students installed analog dams and measured soil moisture, steam habitat and water quality.

To construct the dams, the team used small boulders, wood posts and branches from nearby willow and juniper trees, mimicking natural beaver dams. Their initial findings show how the dam of a beaver – the university’s mascot – can positively impact soil moisture and habitat for streamside plants up to 150 meters upstream.

Because beaver have been eliminated from many lands throughout the West, particularly lands that have been impacted by grazing and agriculture, the research team’s work intends to provide a low-cost, low-impact approach to restoring stream and streamside habitat.  By trapping sediment, beaver dam analogs also help to raise the streambed, which reconnects downcut streams to their former floodplains, increases “green space,” and reduces the destructive force of high flows.

This spring and summer, the research team will expand the monitoring to measure sediment, riparian plant health and fish passage. The project was funded by an OSU Grand Team Challenge Grant, the Bella Vista Foundation and private donors.

Good idea! Next let’s see if the students can reduce the fly population by making spider webs too! I mean if we’re taking over natural functions, why stop with the beaver? Since you aren’t teaching students to be ADVOCATES for the beavers to stop them from being trapped on farmland.  Maybe while you’re at it, lets see you can raise the bird population by making little nests so they have more time to spend on a second clutch every season?

Honestly. They obviously just fund any ol’ programs now.

Yesterday a reporter for the East Bay times came by to talk about a 10 year retrospective on the beavers. It was an odd interview I think maybe because he wasn’t feeling well, and it was early, and it was in my house. He had strange ideas about the beavers I thought, like saying they were “more popular now then when they had been saved in 2007”. I told him I thought their local profile 10 years ago had been HUGE before, and that’s why they were saved. In contrast people hardly think about them now, unless they’re on the news.

After we talked for an hour the photographer arrived and wanted to film me saying the same things for another hour. Which was tiring but less odd, because she wasn’t feeling sick. But she told me to be ‘pithy’ once which alarmed me because I usually am already. I’m saying this because I hope I said the right things, in the right way, and we don’t get a ridiculous beaver article this weekend.

Anyway, happy ending alert, after it was all over I got an email from Sean Dexter of Condor Consulting on Green Street because he had snapped a photo with his phone that he thought I might like to see.

condor consulting
Beaver at Ward Street: Sean Dexter

He took this on Wednesday of last week, which means their was a sighting Sunday evening, Wednesday evening and Thursday morning. That’s enough days in my book to say that we should all be looking for them to show up again. We’re heading to the Sierras this afternoon for a few days but you can be bet will be there keeping watch the moment we get back!