Once valued as little more than pelts, beavers are back in vogue and rebuilding their reputation as habitat engineers.
It helps their cause that the dams they build as homes also create water quality-boosting wetlands and habitat for other species. In the process, the structures slow the flow of water and filter out sediment that would otherwise be on its way to the Chesapeake Bay.
And a new study out of the Northeast suggests the dams, which can alter the course of entire river systems, can also substantially reduce the amount of nitrogen in them. Read More
Beavers and their dams also bring new habitats to urban and suburban environments, creating the wetlands known to be key to several species’ survival. Griffin said more people are warming to the idea that a beaver can bring benefits to the neighborhood. Urban parks can be a great place for beavers to redefine the landscape, as they have at Bladensburg Waterfront Park along the District of Columbia’s stretch of the Anacostia River. Jorge Bogantes Montero, stewardship program specialist in natural resources for the Anacostia Watershed Society, said three beaver dams constructed in one stretch of the park demonstrate their ability to attract wildlife and clean the water even in the middle of the city.
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission voted unanimously to approve recommended sport-fishing rules for the Olympic Peninsula. These rules were brought forth by the ad hoc North Coast Steelhead Advisory Group, a group of Olympic Peninsula guides, steelheaders, scientists and conservationists.
Wild Steelheaders United and Trout Unlimited played a strong roll in getting these approved, so thank you. Hundreds of you sent in comments, four local chapters and more than 20 members of WSU came to the November commission meetings.
To quote Commissioner Miranda Wecker, "The North Olympic Rivers represent our last remaining stable stocks of wild steelhead....I, for one, do not want to be part of running these stocks into the ground."
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
The Methow Beaver Project is a collaborative project focused on re-introducing beavers into strategic locations of the Methow Sub-basin for the benefit of wildlife, fisheries, and local water users.
A coalition of partners is implementing this project, including: Pacific Biodiversity Institute, the Methow Conservancy, the US Forest Service (Okanogan National Forest), the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Ecotrust, Washington Audubon, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service Winthrop National Fish Hatchery.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is taking input on proposed rule changes that will impact steelhead and steelhead fishing on the famed Olympic Peninsula. Although prepared for the Hoh River the proposed rules are applicable to many of our rivers in California.
The recommendations on rule changes were compiled by the North Coast Steelhead Advisory Group. The group, comprised of 13 people with deep and diverse knowledge of the fishery (one of which Wild Steelhead United's own John McMillan) was established to gather information about how to best manage the winter steelhead sport fishery.
While not everyone agreed on the approach, they all agreed on the fact that both fisheries need to be improved to rebuild wild steelhead. The North Coast Steelhead Advisory Group's recommendations are an important step forward in that regard. Read the TU Blog to learn some methods we can all apply to protect our local stocks.
There is a growing acceptance of the beneficial results provided by beavers in restoring wetlands, raising water tables and storing water. The Oregon Field Guide provides a look at the presence of Beavers in Portland and the steps governments are taking to tolerate their activities. The Guide also contains stories on sand castles, dam removal and the Oregon Craters. A 30 minute film provides an informative look at beavers and Oregon. Oregon Field Guide.
Lahontan cutthroat trout are successfully reproducing in the lower Truckee River in what experts are calling a major milestone in efforts to restore the population once on the brink of extinction.
Last year, cutthroats raised from a strain of a remnant population in the mountains near the Nevada-Utah line spawned upstream from Pyramid Lake for the first time in nearly 80 years.
Now, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials have documented about 1,000 newly hatched baby cutthroats swimming in the river after a second spawn this spring. They suspect as many as 45,000 may have hatched in recent weeks.
A range-wide genetic analysis of Lahontan cutthroat populations in Nevada, California and Oregon done by Helen Neville, Trout Unlimited’s senior scientist and UC-Davis in 2018 turned up hybrids — a mix Lahontan cutthroat and rainbow trout — in Independence Lake samples. As one of only two lakes in the world to support a relict self-sustaining and naturally reproducing population of Lahontan cutthroat trout, a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, Independence Lake is irreplaceable.
In mid-March, The East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) Board of Directors affirmed its support for state Wild & Scenic River protection for the Mokelumne River. Although the utility has supported protection of the river in the past, the new resolution specifically urges the California Legislature and Governor Jerry Brown to pass and sign legislation to protect 35 miles of the river in Amador and Calaveras Counties in the Sierra Nevada foothills.
The new resolution unanimously adopted by the EBMUD Board may revive the possibility for introduction of a Mokelumne Wild & Scenic River bill in the current session of the California Legislature. Senator Loni Hancock championed a bill to protect 37 miles of the Mokelumne last year and successfully shepherded it through the Senate and the Assembly Natural Resources Committee, only to have the bill stalled without a vote in Assembly Appropriations, at the insistence of Assemblymember Frank Bigelow.
Although there was a common understanding among the speakers at the January "Hatchery vs. Wild Salmonid Symposium" that wild fish perform better than hatchery fish, no one in the initial session said that there should be no hatcheries at all. The symposium, in Portland, was sponsored by the Oregon Chapter of the American Fisheries Society. About 275 people attended. Speakers noted that salmon and steelhead hatcheries in the Northwest can replace fish runs lost to dams and the reduction of habitat, they can bring back imperiled runs of fish as the Snake River sockeye captive broodstock program is doing today; and supplementation programs can build new runs of natural fish. Not one speaker on the first day of this conference suggested that hatcheries don't have a place. In fact, many of the speakers talked about how they are trying to make modern hatcheries work.
Orvis and Trout Unlimited have joined forces in their ongoing 1,000 mile project, which seeks to reconnect -- you guessed it -- 1,000 miles of rivers and streams currently blocked by culverts. Existing culverts are repaired or replaced, in a simple and cost effective process, restoring habitat, access to spawning grounds and reestablishing miles and miles of fishable water. While the latter may be the most enticing for fishermen, all of the impacts of culvert repair are positive for the angler and the ecosystem alike. Read the full story.