CA DFW Recognizes Benefits of Beavers

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Jeff Baldwin of Sonoma State University has explored climate modeling and reports potential benefits of beavers in increasing water storage while benefiting headwater meadow habitat.

Climate models forecast significant changes in California’s temperature and precipitation patterns. Those changes are likely to affect fluvial and riparian habitat. Across the American West several researchers and civil society groups promote increased beaver (Castor canadensis) presence as a means to moderate such changes. This study reviews three literatures in an effort to evaluate the potential for beaver to adapt to and to mitigate anticipated changes in California’s higher elevation land- and waterscapes. 

First, he provides a synopsis of modeled changes in temperatures and precipitation. 

Second, researchers anticipate climate-driven changes in stream and riparian areas and project that snow packs and summer flows will continue to decline, winter and spring flood magnitudes will increase, spring stream recession will likely continue to occur earlier
and more quickly, and highland fires will be more extensive. 

A third focus reviews beaver natural histories and finds that where beaver dams are persistent, they may sequester sediment and create wet meadows that can moderate floods, augment early summer base flows, sequester carbon in soils and standing biomass, decrease ecological problems posed by earlier spring stream recession, and potentially help cool early summer and post-wildfire stream temperatures. However, due in part to currently limited habitat suitability and to conflicts with other human interests, mitigation would likely be most meaningful on local rather than statewide scales. Read More

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