Yakima Beaver Project

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The goal of the Yakima Beaver Project is to increase stream complexity and riparian system function in priority salmon recovery watersheds in the upper Yakima River Basin, one beaver complex at a time.

Between 2011 and 2015, one hundred sixty-one “problem beavers” that were slated to be lethally removed from irrigation ditches and urban settings lower in the Yakima Basin, were captured and relocated to high-priority upper Yakima tributaries for restoration purposes. Major upper Yakima subwatersheds that were utilized for beaver relocations include the Teanaway, Manastash, Swauk, Taneum, and Cle Elum. Relocations occurred in publicly owned or approved privately owned land off the mainstem rivers.

Mid-Columbia Fisheries staff and interns will monitor the 56 previously relocated beaver colonies throughout 2016. Mid-Columbia Fisheries continues to work towards increasing beaver densities across the landscape by working with landowners to manage nuisance beavers, presenting at beaver management workshops, and training other restoration practitioners in safe beaver trapping, handling, and relocation.

Accomplishments over the past five years include:

  • Relocated 161 beavers to headwater tributaries.
  • Successfully established 16 beaver colonies between 2011 and 2014.
  • Created 26 new dams, 24 new pools, and stored 24.6 million gallons of water in 2015.
  • Detected 17 relocated beavers traveling to other headwater systems – demonstrating “unsuccessful beaver relocations” may still be performing ecological restoration on the landscape years later.
  • Volunteers donated more than 4,820 hours to the project.
  • Acquired over $292,000 of match for the project.
  • Provided outreach to over 33,000 residents about the benefits of beavers.
  • Collaboration with over 150 landowners and managers with nuisance beaver complaints.
  • Improved beaver management in Yakima and Kittitas counties.
  • Installed two beaver deceivers and three pond levelers to eliminate flooding of property.
  • Installed two beaver dam analogues installed to enhance habitat prior to reintroduction.
  • Protected dozens of trees protected with wire or beaver deterrents to maintain beavers on site.
  • Educated landowners and managers about the benefits of beavers on the landscape.

To view a map of the capture and relocation sites from 2011-2014, click here.

To view a full Yakima Basin Beaver Report click here.

We would like to thank our project sponsors: Salmon Recovery Funding Board (2011-2013), McNary Fisheries Compensation Committee (2014-2015), and the National Forest Foundation (2015) as well as project partners and supporters: Central Washington University, U.S. Forest Service, Washington Department of Transportation, Washington Conservation Corps, Yakama Indian Nation and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Thank you!

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A beaver awaits relocation in a holding tank, 2013.

Beaver Relocation

Central Washington University intern volunteers relocating a beaver, 2015.

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A beaver is released into a temporary lodge in 2014.

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Biologists hike into a relocation site and prepare to release a beaver, 2014.

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A beaver is released into a temporary lodge, 2014.