Urban Beavers

somebody I worked with early on when I started my career mentioned about the trees the old-growth forests and it’s a great point of you know what is oregan to you you know and if you don’t have all growth forests you know is it still Oregon is that what we’re here for I would kind of put that – the beaver you know these species is that you know it’s our state animal right if we don’t have beavers here and there was a point in history where we were close to the you know the brink of extinction you know would it still be Oregon would it still feel the same some of the challenges of beaver in urban streams really have to do with the challenges that we’ve put on the landscape and that is the constraints the way that we’ve constrained beaver habitat meaning we’ve built roads and bridges and culverts and houses and other structures too close to beaver habitat well the beavers do what they do and that’s raised water levels and as a result there’s a lot of private property concerns about the resulting in expansion of the wetlands and flooding so water doesn’t drain from properties as quickly the areal spread is greater of floods as we call the beaver and people are concerned about that but paradoxically that’s the the best function of beaver so there’s an inherent conflict between beavers and and private ownership in these very urbanized environments we have a lot of concrete a lot of pavement these you know it rains and basically you know the water flows off off of this impermeable structure directly into the streams and it just you know it’s kind of a fire hose effect hydrology has changed velocities are much higher and it scours habitat in the last 30 or so years there’s been a realization that a good stormwater management requires retention these wetlands and particularly these we beaver supported wetlands absorb more pollution they hold the water longer and reduce peak flooding and downstream I think for the overall health of our the system of streams here it’s going to be a good thing because most of the runoff is still from Brooke roof driveway Street parking lot and not all of that is going into swales as of yet the new the new housing developments are doing that but we still have development here that have gone back thirty some odd years or more beavers provide the best habitat we have available for specifically for salmon but you know especially coho salmon so we spend a lot of time and money developing projects to restore habitats and the habitats that we’re trying to create is the coho habit you know that co-op town which is a habitat the beavers make for free beavers increase all wetland functions and values that’s the latest scientific thinking after looking at beavers and a number of landscapes throughout North America one of the greatest benefits that beavers provide to the environment and to us is creation of wetlands which provide wonderful habitat for a variety of fish and wildlife species we can go in there and just jump into a beaver pool and you know put our snorkel mask on and see fish and say well yeah there’s a lot more fish in this beaver pond then there are out in this channel that has no habitat that’s an obvious thing I think the bigger thing is that you know that broader watershed scale perspective for those folks that think beavers are pests or nuisance I can see where they’re coming from because fever do posts challenges they can be difficult to to live with again because of what we’ve done chicken stream their habitat and so it can be challenging we want to keep the beavers in the streams because they provide this amazing habitat for fish mini ESA listed fish but the same time they a flood you know infrastructure and their problems for people so you have this you have this balancing game where you’re trying to you know keep the habitat but you know work with people the pond has taken over and some people may look at that as a bad thing although everything that I’ve read and heard and I know there are pros and cons on this that that beaver are a keystone species so what state do prepares the way for other wildlife to follow beavers require some patience and if you’re interested in a formal landscape garden a beaver certainly isn’t going to be to your liking but if you’re appreciative of the natural environment you want to see more birds more species of birds and bird activity like that that the beaver is actually going to result in more wildlife in your backyard I love the pond you know I came down here with a good friend the other night and we kind of sat here and drank drank a beer and that’s when the muskrats showed up and nibbling on the grass and then we saw two beaver instead of one or two two ducks you know residing here we’ve had well we’ve always had the mallards then we’ve picked up the wood ducks before but there were all a lot of wood ducks here this winter in the spring hopefully we’ll have some fish come back when we first moved here they were trout and a lot of crawdad in the stream and those disappeared as development upstream continued so that’s something else we’re hoping see come back and that’ll bring blue heron and kingfishers back you know there are solutions out there that we can find I think if people can give the stream or the pond or the wetland a little more room you know and not as much encroachment I think that that helps I think that’s the biggest thing with streams or you know wetlands it’s just giving you know the natural environment a little bit more room and that’s what I tried to do the fact that we’ve had a large beaver move in has made the neighborhood more conscious about you know what we have in our backyard what is Oregon to you if we don’t have beavers here you know would it still be Oregon would it still feel the same and I think that’s a big part of it just you know connecting with nature you know from you know a small kid all the way up you

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