Restoration with Beavers
Historically fur trappers removed beavers in great numbers, thus simplifying many miles of stream habitat. In some areas, past land management such as railroad logging, road building, and agriculture have contributed to habitat loss and reductions in habitat quality. Many streams in eastern Washington have incised, water tables have dropped, and vegetation has receded. Beavers create complex habitat by raising water tables, creating deep pools, reconnecting side channel habitat, trapping sediment, re-timing runoff, creating wetlands and introducing both large and fine wood into streams. Beavers create stream complexity, and this directly supports fish recovery.
Nature at work for you – Beavers help fish, wildlife and people
Beavers are industrious engineers, constructing dams and lodges for shelter and food storage. Beavers actively modify streams and surrounding woodlands, improving the health of a watershed by creating lush ponds or wetland habitat for a variety of fish and wildlife. By damming water, beavers create a refuge for juvenile and overwintering fish. These ponds provide homes to aquatic invertebrates (fish food), amphibians, reptiles, waterfowl, songbirds, and mammals.
Benefits of Beavers in a Dry Climate
• By building dams, beavers are able to slow spring runoff, reducing the potential for flooding and erosion.
• Beaver dams spread water onto the floodplain and reconnect side channels allowing for greater water storage.
• Beaver ponds provide a continuous water supply that percolates into the ground, recharging aquifers.
• Beaver ponds trap sediment and filter out toxic materials providing cool, clean water for downstream water users.
Resolving Conflict with Beavers
Beavers can cause damage to infrastructure by felling trees, blocking culverts and damming irrigation canals. Because of the many benefits of beaver activities, Mid-Columbia Fisheries assists landowners with non-lethal solutions to beaver issues. Damage from beaver activities can be prevented by protecting trees with fencing, installing beaver deceivers or flow devices, and relocating beavers to less developed areas.
The Beaver Restoration Guidebook: Working with Beaver to Restore Streams, Wetlands, and Floodplains
In 2013, the NPLCC partnered with U.S. Fish & Wildlife, NOAA, Portland State University, and the U.S. Forest Service to develop a comprehensive guide on using beaver for stream restoration. The goal of this guidebook is to provide an accessible, useful resource for anyone involved in using beaver to restore streams, floodplains, wetlands, and riparian areas. It provides a practical synthesis of the best available science, an overview of management techniques, and case studies from throughout the western US.
Click here to view and download the guidebook.