Since 2008, Methow Beaver Project has been leading the way in process-based restoration by relocating beavers in irreconcilable conflict with people from private lands to unoccupied stream segments on public land. We have expanded our work to include restoring streams that are too degraded to support beavers. Jump starting ecological function in our streams by adding woody structure and planting riparian vegetation helps improves establishment success of relocated beavers. After more than a century of human impacts, including extirpation of beavers for their fur, mining, timber harvest, grazing, road, irrigation abstraction, and fire suppression our watersheds and forests are in dire need of assistance to become functional again but also resilient to future changes.
On public lands, beavers industrious dam and pond building, sediment capture, tree felling, and overall habitat improvements will increase watershed function and resilience, assist with fire recovery, and increase habitat quality, complexity and connectivity for numerous species, including our endangered salmon.
All relocation sites are surveyed and assessed for suitability in supporting beavers before release and monitored post-release to determine if beavers have remained at the site and document habitat changes that they provided even if currently absent. Habitat changes to wetted area, stream depth, stream temperature, riparian plant communities, and water quality help tell the critical story of beavers on our landscape and help us understand how to better manage and plan for beaver restoration across the watershed.
As we help others discover the benefits of beavers, their industrious habitat building, and the refugia they provide to our endangered salmonids and others, we are expanding our services and educational outreach to help landowners live with beavers where they are. Coexisting with beavers will help recover the functioning of our degraded watershed as well as it’s resilience to change from the bottom up, as well as top down.
Research is showing beavers are essential to healthy landscape, species recovery, and water quality and quantity, but they no longer inhabit much of their historical range. How can we capture water on the landscape without beavers? How can we get beavers to stick in relocation areas? How can we naturally recruit beavers to desperately needed restoration sites? How can we restore natural function to rivers and streams? Designing and installing Beaver Dam Analogues (BDA) or Post Assisted Log Structures (PALS) (a post and weave structure across the stream), that mimics a beaver dam has proven to be effective way to address these questions and needs. MBP has begun installing these structures as a way to capture more water on the landscape, recruit beavers, and assist beavers in establishing at restoration sites.
If you're interested in visiting a site or learning these techniques
Considering beaver and their role in your watershed restoration work?
We can provide expertise in your project planning, implementation and assessment. Whether contributing to your project design, installing beaver dam analogs, translocating beavers to your restored site, or adaptively managing a site post-implementation, we are your resource for beaver mediated restoration. We also assist in managing the challenges that beavers might pose to restoration priorities under current watershed conditions. The Methow Beaver Project can help your restoration project achieve increased watershed function, complexity, refugia, resiliency and biodiversity objectives through process-based, self-sustaining strategies and actions. Give us a call to find out more!
- Project design consultation - how beaver may respond to new in-stream infrastructure
- Beaver potential evaluation - where are beaver most likely to enable project goals
- Beaver habitat optimization - creating conditions for beaver to succeed
- Beaver translocation - when possible, translocating beaver into a target restoration site
- Beaver management - when beavers are challenging your restoration priorities