Conference Abstracts and Bios as Submitted
State of the Beaver 2023, “The Path Forward“
November 13 – 15
Process-Based Restoration & Tribal Stewardship in a Coastal Tributary of the Klamath River
Presenter: Logan McKinnon
Affiliation: Yurok Tribe, Yurok Tribal Fisheries Department (YTFD), Klamath, California
Brief Biography: Logan McKinnon is a Yurok Tribe Citizen and works as a Fisheries Technician within the Yurok Tribal Fisheries Department. His work includes monitoring fish populations within the Lower Klamath River and conducting fish habitat restoration. The Yurok approach to restoration relies on implementation of process-based techniques and tribal stewardship – tending to the land and water. Restoration work has included installation of constructed wood jams including beaver dam analogues, planting native riparian plants, creation of off-channel wetlands, and other innovative approaches.
Abstract: Since 2007, the Yurok Tribal Fisheries Department and our partner Fiori GeoSciences have been conducting process-based restoration in McGarvey Creek, a coastal tributary to the Klamath River. McGarvey Creek supports spawning runs of Chinook, Coho, steelhead, and coastal cutthroat trout (natal populations) and serves as vital rearing habitat to juvenile Coho from throughout the Klamath Basin (non-natal populations). Our approach in this watershed includes complementary use of constructed log jams, creation of off-channel wetlands, bioengineering, and installation/stewardship of beaver dam analogues (BDAs). To date, we have constructed four BDA sites in key locations (e.g. biological hot spots) to help support salmonid recovery and boost ecological function. Permitting and installation of these BDAs were possible because of strong working relationships with the landowner (Green Diamond Resource Company), state/federal/tribal resource agencies, and various basin partners.
Extensive biological and physical monitoring of the McGarvey BDAs has been conducted to help assess restoration performance and guide our species recovery and watershed stewardship approach. Study findings indicate that the McGarvey BDAs: 1) provide high-quality juvenile rearing habitat; 2) do not appear to hinder adult or juvenile salmonid fish passage; 3) increase localized floodplain inundation frequency and duration; 4) can boost summer rearing capacity in perennial reaches and thus serve as placement sites for juvenile salmonids rescued from seasonally drying reaches of lower McGarvey Creek (and potentially other streams); 5) help retain fluvial transported wood; and 6) create/maintain complex, dynamic habitats even when one or more dams breach. Based on these findings, we intend to install additional BDAs and plan to expand process-based restoration into the upper reaches and explore the use of other “low-tech” approaches (e.g. hand-built log jams) throughout McGarvey Creek to help feed this structurally starved watershed.
Author/Presenter: Logan McKinnon, Yurok Tribal Fisheries Department (YTFD) firstname.lastname@example.org
Co-Authors: Sarah Beesley – YTFD, Rocco Fiori – Fiori GeoSciences, Andrew Antonetti – YTFD, Jimmy Faukner – YTFD, and Scott Silloway – YTFD.
Cara Ratterman, Private Forest Accord Beaver Conservation Biologist – Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
Bio : Cara is a biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife working on nonlethal beaver management. She works to resolve both public and private beaver-related damage issues by educating people and promoting the use of tools like flow mitigation devices. She earned her BSc in Organismal Biology from Auburn University and spent the next 5 years working on wildlife field research projects across the United States before joining ODFW.
Abstract: A breakdown of the recent changes to beaver management in Oregon, including House Bill 3464 and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s recent 3-year Beaver Action Plan. House Bill 3464 will exclude beaver from the term “predatory animal”. The Beaver Action Plan outlines how ODFW is taking immediate steps to improve and increase the amount of beaver habitat in Oregon.
Elissa Chott, Beaver Conflict Specialist, Beaver Conflict Resolution Project, Clark Fork Coalition Missoula, MT
Flashy Flow Devices: Adapting Coexistence Methods for Montana Streams
The Clark Fork Coalition, National Wildlife Federation, and Defenders of Wildlife launched the Beaver Conflict Resolution Project in 2019 as a pilot project to increase tolerance for beavers in western Montana by addressing flooding and tree cutting concerns. The program helps landowners live with beavers by providing technical and financial support to install flow devices and protect trees. Five years later, the Beaver Conflict Resolution Project has installed over 50 coexistence projects in seven counties. These installations have involved steep learning curves, some experimenting, and some readjustments as the Project adapts designs for Montana streams affected by heavy spring runoffs and steep upstream grades. Case studies detailing the challenges of working in areas where water levels are drastically different for weeks out of the year give an overview of what works, what doesn’t, and what needs some redesigning for the future.
Elissa Chott is a conflict specialist for the Beaver Conflict Resolution Project, a collaboration between Defenders of Wildlife, National Wildlife Federation, and Clark Fork Coalition. She installs flow devices and protects trees to help landowners coexist with and keep beavers in place to create healthy ecosystems.
With a background in bear conflict mitigation, Elissa has worked with public and private landowners on how to coexist with wildlife for over ten years. She holds a MS in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana.
What beaver can teach us about ending the human degradation of Earth’s biosphere
Jeff Baldwin PhD in Environmental Geography Sonoma State University (emeritus)
Biography – Throughout his life, Jeff has engaged profoundly with the landscapes and more-than-human places across Oregon. First as an enthusiast, then as an artist, and over the last 25 years as a student of human-biospheric interrelationships. Dr. Baldwin has published numerous articles on the role of mangrove communities in tropical beach formation and the role of tourism development in beach and reef degradation, on environmental ethics, on the role of life in producing place, and on the benefits of and obstacles to beaver re-colonization in Oregon and California. Since 1998, Prof Baldwin has taught at the University of Oregon, Willamette University, Western Oregon University, Lane Community College, and as a tenured member of the faculty at Sonoma State University.
Abstract: The profoundly mutualistic biospheric interrelationships fostered by beaver invite us to think more broadly about how we need to live with our biosphere if all three are to prosper. As human cultures have formed ever more hierarchical structures, we have moved from living mutualistically with our biosphere to developing social structures which prioritize ever more exploitative relationships through which people focused upon financial capital accumulation take more than they give, from other humans, from potential non-human partners, and from our biosphere. This presentation clarifies the dominant role of mutualism in enriching our biosphere. It then contextualizes efforts in support of beaver re-colonization in a wider frame of the dominant Western worldviews that falsely exceptionalizes humans and legitimizes exploitation by elites through myths exemplified by “the survival of the fittest”. The presentation then argues that in order to succeed systemically, we must abandon our thrall with exploitation and embrace a mutualistic ethic with each other, with beaver, and with our wider biosphere.
Beavers Improve Water Quality, Temperatures, and Stream Complexity in an Urban Watershed Katie Holzer Ph.D. Watershed Scientist, City of Gresham
Bio: Katie studies water quality and urban ecosystems. She has a Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of California, Davis and has focused her research on human-wildlife coexistence.
Beaver populations have been returning to urban watersheds in the Pacific Northwest, bringing with them both benefits and challenges. To better understand the effects on local watersheds, we conducted several studies of beaver activities within the city of Gresham, Oregon. We looked at pollutant removal efficiencies in a large stormwater treatment wetland with and without beaver activity, assessed the effect of beaver dams on stream temperatures, and documented the physical and biological changes to stream channels near dams. We found that pollutants of concern were generally removed more efficiently when beaver dams were present in the treatment wetlands. This is likely due to the water being filtered through the dams which are repaired after each storm. The effects of dams on stream temperatures varied depending on site characteristics, but all dams created ponds with temperature heterogeneity and stratification. Dams on higher order streams sometimes reduced overall stream temperature by pulling water from the entire stratified water column and increasing hyporheic flow. Within just a few years of beaver activity, several sites experienced increased stream complexity with new gravel bars, side channels, and braided streams. We also found increased macroinvertebrate diversity in the relatively sediment-free cobbles downstream of dams. These findings demonstrate multiple benefits of beavers in urban watersheds. After communicating these benefits to stakeholders, we have been working with beaver experts to adapt our systems to find ways to protect infrastructure while coexisting with beavers through targeted use of technologies such as pond levelers, culvert fencing, and tree protection.
Big Beaver Wins in California – A Review of Successful Strategies, Results and an Update on Current State Policy and Programs
Occidental Arts & Ecology Center WATER Institute (OAEC) has been working to integrate beaver and process-based restoration into California’s resource management practices and policies for over two decades. Thanks to the work of many restorationists, tribes, advocates, agencies and NGOs, California’s state leaders have finally taken the visionary step of funding and creating a new Beaver Restoration Program. As part of this Program, the state has revised its depredation policy and is developing a Beaver Management Plan to better reflect the role this keystone species can play in this time of catastrophic drought, wildfires and biodiversity loss. OAEC will share strategies they have been using to help achieve these successes, current updates on the processes and future plans to further create a culture of beaver stewardship in California.
Kate Lundquist co-directs the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center’s WATER Institute and the Bring Back the Beaver Campaign. Kate collaborates with landowners, communities, tribes, conservation organizations and resource agencies across the arid west to uncover obstacles and identify strategic solutions to conserve watersheds, recover listed species, increase water security and build resilience to the impacts of climate change. Kate works to catalyze the greater acceptance, funding and implementation of beaver and process-based restoration in support of biological and cultural diversity. Kate is a co-founder and member of the California Beaver Policy Working Group and the California Process-Based Restoration Network (www.calpbr.org) and serves as a member of the Beaver Institute’s (www.beaverinstitute.org) advisory board.
Brock Dolman co-founded the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center in 1994 where he co-directs the WATER Institute. He is a wildlife biologist & watershed ecologist who has been actively promoting Bringing Back Beaver in California since the early 2000’s. He was given Salmonid Restoration Federation’s coveted Golden Pipe Award in 2012: “…for his leading role as a proponent of “working with beavers” to restore native habitat”. Brock is a co-author of two papers re-evaluating the historic range of beaver in California. Brock is a co-founder and member of the California Beaver Policy Working Group and the California Process-Based Restoration Network (www.calpbr.org) and serves as a member of the Beaver Institute’s (www.beaverinstitute.org) advisory board.
Managing Beaver Flooding Problems with Flow Devices, John Egan, Beaver Solutions
John Egan has been installing flow devices to resolve beaver flooding problems with Mike Callahan and Beaver Solutions since 2012. John will share his wealth of knowledge on assessing and managing a variety of beaver issues, with an emphasis on the use flow devices to resolve them. He will review the flow device designs that Beaver Solutions uses, how he decides what sites they can be used at, and what limitations they can have with different situations. With the company having now installed over 1,900 flow devices since 1998, there have been plenty of lessons learned, and he hopes to share as many as possible during this presentation and anytime needed after it.
Using Flow Devices to Manage Beaver Flooding
Since 1998, flow device usage in Massachusetts and New England has significantly grown, and have now been used in over 150 towns and cities in Massachusetts alone. This, coupled with the vast population of beavers in the area, has allowed flow devices to become a common site and a go-to solution for many towns, especially with the futility of constant trapping at many sites across the region. Over time, these flow devices have improved due to some design and material changes used to build them. Today, these flow device designs are highly successful, and adaptable to the different landscapes they come across.
This presentation will summarize each system Beaver Solutions uses: the Fence and Pipe device, Flexible Pond Leveler, Keystone Fence, Diversion Fence, and Multi Intake Leveler. There is never a one device fits all solution for beaver related flooding, so this presentation will share what Beaver Solutions does with the different situations it comes across. This sharing of information will hopefully advance the understanding and advancement of flow devices in the handling of beaver flooding and human-beaver conflicts.
Leonard Houston, Beaver Advocacy Committee of the South Umpqua Rural Community Partnership
Leonard is a native Oregonian, his family’s roots here predate statehood. Leonard was born in Canyonville and lived as a child in Days Creek on a small farm bordering the South Umpqua river. The years of his youth were spent in part, hunting, fishing and trapping the forests and streams of the Umpqua Basin. Leonard has seen firsthand the benefits of an active beaver population upon the landscape, his father taught him a deep abiding respect for the beaver and the role they play in our aquatic ecosystems.
Leonard spent most of his life working in forestry related industries, from pre-commercial contracting to helicopter logging. Returning many years later to the forests of his youth, Leonard was shocked to find that gone were the beaver, our pristine river and streams were now radically changed, the spawning beds and rearing ponds created by the beaver were now bedrock and barren rock bars. Millions of dollars were being spent to restore our streams and anadromus fish runs, yet something was still missing, the beaver dams and ponds of his youth. It was a time of deep inner searching, would Leonard continue to eek out a living in the forest or turn heart and time to giving back. The choice was self evident and the winds of change were beckoning.
Ecological forest restoration was rapidly growing as an additional tool to existing management practices and provided the opportunity to earn a living and give back simultaneously. Having entered into ecological forest restoration the step to streams and beavers was indisputable. With Lois Houston at his side he began intensive beaver research and inventorying beaver populations of the Umpqua Basin. In order to facilitate their actions the Beaver Advocacy Committee ( BAC ) was formed and several months later became an official 501 c3 non profit organization under the umbrella of the South Umpqua Rural Community Partnership.
Leonard has been an active participant in the South Umpqua Rural Community Partnership since its conception, 2006, co chair of the Beaver Advocacy Committee, 2007 and joined the South Umpqua Rural Community Partnership’s board of directors in 2015. It has been a rewarding decade of growth, organizational and personal. Leonard looks forward to the continued support and engagement of the South Umpqua Rural Community Partnership and its committees in our commitments to sustainable economic development through ecological restoration and enhancement of our terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
Building Community for a Beaver-ful Future
Adam Burnett Beaver Institute
The future of beaver coexistence and restoration depends on a strong foundation of transdisciplinary science, management, and outreach fostered by a vibrant and diverse community of researchers, practitioners, and other stakeholders. Towards this end, Beaver Institute has hosted six, interconnected National Beaver Working Groups since 2022. Each working group focuses on a key thematic area in beaver practice: Communications, Education, Funding, Management, Policy & Legal, and Science & Research. Co-facilitators of the Working Groups will introduce the National Beaver Working Groups with a presentation on the vision, mission, and key objectives of the National Beaver Working Groups and an overview of the intersectional interactions supporting joint projects across working groups. The session will conclude with a 10-minute panel discussion to address audience questions and share the wide variety of opportunities available for stakeholder participation, collaboration, and engagement with the working groups.
Adam Burnett serves as the Executive Director of the Beaver Institute after a career of building and running non-profits in the field of performing arts and environmental conservation. He received his BA from the University of Kansas in Theatre & Creative Writing and spent a decade as the co-founder and artistic director of Buran Theatre. Adam’s experience creating intentional communities, reaching consensus and manifesting opportunities for plurality are traits he relies upon in leading Beaver Institute.
Alexa Whipple – Project Director – Methow Beaver Project, a program of Methow Salmon
Alexa is a restoration ecologist, a collaborator, and the Project Director for the Methow Beaver Project. She works for sustainability in all practices and effective, process-based solutions to challenging environmental conditions. She has called the Methow and Okanogan River watersheds of WA State home for the last 22 years but has worked across the western US studying songbirds, carnivores, plant communities, agricultural practices that sustain habitat and wildlife, and post-wildfire recovery of western riverscapes. Alexa completed her BS in Wildlife Biology at Virginia Tech and MS in Restoration Ecology at Eastern Washington University where she focused on beaver ecology and beaver mediated restoration of legacy degraded and wildfire impacted streams across western NA.
Helping Beavers Help Us Restore Riverscapes: Insight from Beaver-based Restoration Projects in Washington and Colorado Watersheds.
Riverscapes in North America were formed and maintained by the broad influence of hydrology, geology, and biology, but one biological organism is regarded as having influenced this biodiversity building triad more than any other… beavers, a quintessential keystone species. Most North American riverscapes are now degraded following historical extirpation of beavers and subsequent land use conversion following the fur trade. There is growing recognition and appreciation of beavers as masters in creating, maintaining, and restoring complex riverscapes for their benefit, while also benefiting people, biodiversity, and climate resilience. However, in many places, beaver populations aren’t making headway reestablishing in degraded riverscapes and human dominated environments on their own, even 150 years after the collapse of the nation building yet ecologically disastrous fur trade. Could Beavers fare better with our help? Partnering with beavers to rebuild functional and resilient riverscapes is a practical and ecologically proven concept but requires thinking outside the box of traditional river restoration approaches ie. static, reach-based project design and economically driven single
species recovery. Instead, Alexa demonstrates the need and practice of broader sustainable management of complexity, restoration of watershed scale natural processes, prioritizing ecosystem resilience and adaptation, modernizing critical keystone species management, and reconnecting social values with ecological sustainability. She highlights the practical aspects and challenges, successes and pitfalls of restoring sustainable riverscapes by partnering with beavers and people in Washington and Colorado Watersheds. Sharing knowledge and experience leads to accelerated adoption and adaptation so please bring your questions and projects to share during Q&A.
Combining Restoration Strategies to Balance Opportunity, Risk & Accelerated Response. Joseph Weirich, The Methow Beaver Project, 201 HWY 20, Twisp, WA 98856; Joe.email@example.com
Modern streams are incredibly simplified and adjacent landowner priorites and tolerance levels are oen divergent from stream restoration priorities. Twisp River Floodplain, or TRFP, demonstrates a unique intersect between conventional and natural process-based restoration strategies while addressing complex risk assessment, to restore and expand native salmonid habitat that will become self-sustaining. Acquired in 2011 by the Methow Salmon Recovery Foundation (MSRF), the 34-acre parcel, 6 miles from the confluence of the Twisp and Methow Rivers, has provided ample opportunity to convert latent irrigation infrastructure back into prime salmon spawning and juvenile rearing side channel and off-channel habitat. This project has utilized multiple restoration approaches and monitoring protocols through adaptive project phases to rebuild habitat that supports multiple life stages of salmon, and their specific habitat needs as well as many other species. MSRF began restoration at TRFP in 2016 by removing a portion of a levy and extensive irrigation infrastructure and installing large wood and engineered log jams to prevent channel avulsion while reactivating the relic floodplain and side channel habitat. Project response was immediate with dramatic increases in perennial wetted area and subsequent salmonid utilization. Proceeding project phases expanded restoration through large scale riparian vegetation planting and minor adaptive management actions to further reduce risk of avulsion and threat to downstream landowner priorities including static structure placement and channel morphology. After 3 years of monitoring for risk assessment and adaptive actions, the site received the next phase of restoration. In 2019, a Low-Tech Process Based Restoration (LTPBR) project was initiated at TRFP, with the installation of 18 bank anchored, non-channel spanning Post Assisted Log structures (PALs) in the middle and lower reach of the project area. The PALs were chosen to add woody structure to the channel, provide slow water refuge for salmonids, promote scouring and deposition of sediment and force water onto the adjacent floodplain, while limiting possible fish barriers. Following the LTPBR phase, beavers were relocated to TRFP in 2020 and 2021 to promote their establishment and to increase habitat complexity via damming, ponding, and tree felling effects. Once beavers established, they felled trees and constructed multiple dams throughout the system, most of which were lost to high flows in the 2022 spring freshet. However, three dams remain intact and provide deep cold-water pools that are utilized by juvenile salmon during peak summer temperatures. Phased project design and repeated risk and performance assessments have proven to be an incredibly successful and coordinated restoration strategy that is certainly contextual but broadly applicable and repeatable for long term, process-based, self-sustaining salmon habitat restoration.
Joe Weirich – Restoration coordinator / GIS specialist – Methow Beaver Project, a program of Methow Salmon Recovery Foundation Joe.MBP@MethowSalmon.org, 509-5592838, www.methowbeaverproject.org
Joe has a background in riparian ecology and GIS and received his master’s in biology from Eastern Washington University in 2021, where he studied how beaver impoundments impact wildfire resistance at multiple spatial scales in the North Cascades. After graduate school, Joe joined the Methow Beaver Project in Twisp, WA, where he works with land managers and private landowners to coexist with beavers and utilize their unique ability to store water and provide habitat for multiple species in the arid mountain west.
IF BEAVERS ARE SO GREAT, THEN WHAT AREN’T THEY DOING GREAT THINGS ON PUBLIC LANDS?
Suzanne Fouty, PhD, Hydrologist/Soils Specialist/ retired USDA Forest Service
Beavers are touted as nature’s firefighters, drought busters, and creators of amazing carbon capture and storage wetlands. They are identified as important for salmon recovery, diminishing flood peaks, providing abundant, quality fish and wildlife habitat, and improving water quality and security for cities, towns, farmers, and ranchers. Yet the wetlands and vibrant stream systems they are capable of creating, and are so needed in this time of climate change and biodiversity loss, remain surprisingly scarce on public lands. Is it beaver trapping and hunting? Is it a lack of habitat? If habitat, what elements are actually missing? Or is it situational? If we have quality habitat, but trapping continues, how will things change? If we have acceptable or marginal habitat with future potential and no trapping, how will things change?
This talk will examine the results of various studies from around the world to changes in beaver numbers, dams, and habitat in response to trapping and hunting pressure. It will explore the social factors preventing the creation of water-rich and complex riparian and stream habitat on public lands and the long-term futility of low-tech process-based restoration as a climate change response strategy when trapping continues. Finally, it will examine the impacts of failing to protect beavers on our public lands, who will bear the brunt of those impacts, who will bear the responsibility for allowing those impacts to occur without having to experience the full magnitude, if any, of their consequences, and how to correct that imbalance.
Dr. Suzanne Fouty has been exploring water issues in the West for almost 40 years, the social challenges and ecological benefits of wolves for over 30 years, the impact of beavers and beaver trapping on stream systems for over 25 years, and how beavers and wolves interact to accelerate stream restoration and what is getting in the way of that restoration for over 10 years. She received her PhD from the University of Oregon in 2003 where her research looked at how cattle, elk, and beavers alter streams, and retired from the Forest Service in 2018 after almost 16 years as a hydrologist and soils specialist. For the last four years Dr. Fouty has been spearheading efforts to close federally managed public lands to beaver trapping and hunting as a strategic response to the emergencies of climate change and biodiversity loss, first at the state level and more recently at the national level.
Building Community around Beavers Through Nature Connection
Audrey Taub and Cooper Lienhart, San Luis Obispo Beaver Brigade
Audrey Taub Bio: Audrey grew up on the banks of the Hudson River in NY State. After graduating college with a MA degree in Mathematics from SUNY Potsdam, she moved to Washington State and became immersed in nature education and mentoring at the Wilderness Awareness School in Duvall, WA. In 2005 she moved to San Luis Obispo County where she lives with her husband and 3 children, tracking animals, gathering wild edibles and swimming in the beaver ponds. In 2019, she founded the SLO Beaver Brigade after a discussion with friends around climate change and more specifically, from asking ourselves the question, ‘how can we each contribute to climate regeneration?’ Highlighting the work the beavers do for our climate was her answer to that question.
Cooper Lienhart Bio: Cooper was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, where he became interested in climate change during a high school earth science project – particularly with how to remove excess CO2 from the atmosphere. He attended Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo, where he graduated in 2020 with a BS degree in Environmental Management and Protection and a minor in Indigenous Studies. Through his studies at Cal Poly and abroad in Iceland and Greenland, he learned that our natural ecosystems can be our greatest ally in combating climate change – especially wetlands. Shortly thereafter he was introduced to the newly formed Beaver Brigade and absolutely fell in love with the beaver wetlands. Since then he has been an active member of the Brigade, leading educational tours, training on beaver coexistence with the Beaver Institute, and has recently formed a Process-Based Restoration company to bring beaver-based restoration to the California Central Coast.
One of the unique characteristics of our organization that has helped people to become engaged with beaver education is that we utilize nature connection practices in all that we do. Nature connection programs take a dramatically different approach towards nature education compared to a typical science class that might talk about beavers or habitat or keystone species. Rather than being completely academic & scientifically focused – nature connection practices include creating sensory experiences and allowing time for sensory engagement. Richard Louv’s Last Child In The Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder, coined the term Nature Deficit Disorder to quantify the effects of youth spending more and moretime indoors, behind screens and less and less time outdoors. On average, today’s youth spend 7 hours and 4 minutes per day on screens and less than 10 minutes per day outside. At the same time, many studies have shown the benefits to mental and emotional health for people when spending time outside. If Nature Deficit Disorder is the problem, then nature connection practices can be one solution. Nature connection means two things: 1. The act of personally engaging with nature through sensory awareness & experiences and observation skills. 2. It also refers to the personal benefits that occur as a result of spending quality time in nature. At the SLO Beaver Brigade, we utilize nature connection practices in our educational tours for both adults and children. These practices help participants build a connection to themselves, to the landscape, and to each other. This connection allows people to become fully engaged, activating their natural joy and aliveness. This in turn empowers them to want to contribute to the wildlife around them, and often specifically to the beaver habitat they are immersed in. Additionally, we utilize nature connection techniques at every meeting we hold. We often get feedback that our group is like none other. It’s inclusive, caring, inspired, inviting and welcoming. These aren’t accidental but rather results of actively creating the conditions for these qualities to naturally emerge. There are basic routines of connection that we practice and that influence everyone that directly interfaces with our group. We’d like to share these simple practices with groups wishing to engage their communities around beaver education in the hopes that they will be successful in inspiring their communities around the work that beavers do for our watersheds.
Research to maximize the benefits associated with beaver reintroduction in Great Britain
Name: Dr Alan Puttock
Affiliation: University of Exeter, United Kingdom
Abstract: Hydrological extremes such as floods and droughts pose a significant environmental and societal risk globally. Across Europe this threat is exacerbated by the intensive management of our anthropogenic landscapes and is expected to increase with climate change. In the face of these hydrological extremes the value of landscape restoration to create more resilient environments and provide a host of nature-based solutions for people and nature is increasingly being recognized.
Beavers are known as ecosystem engineers and can profoundly alter ecosystem structure and hydrological function through their engineering activity, which particularly via the building of dams, ponds and canals can create complex wetland environments. The creation of wetlands as beavers return to our landscapes could have major impacts upon habitat restoration, flow regimes and related water resource management issues. However, alongside extensive ecosystem service benefits, beaver activity can also result in conflict with existing land management.
Using a range of case studies across Great Britain and beyond, the role of beavers in habitat restoration and water resource management will be considered, alongside how research can inform such approaches, allowing us to maximize the benefits and minimize the conflicts associated with the return of the beaver to our landscapes.
Bio: Alan is a Research Fellow in Geography at the University of Exeter. Alan is an ecohydrologist whose research specializes in understanding the relationship between land use or vegetation change and the quality and quantity of water leaving our landscapes. Since 2014 Alan has been undertaking a suite of multidisciplinary research, monitoring the impacts of reintroducing the Eurasian Beaver. Working across a suite of beaver sites throughout Britain, this research is being undertaken with a broad range of project partners and actively seeks to inform management and policy associated with the return of beavers to Britain. Further information on Alan’s research and associated publications can be found via the links below:
University Staff Profile: https://geography.exeter.ac.uk/staff/index.php?web_id=A_Puttock
Google Scholar: https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=XnJfmJMAAAAJ&hl=en
Reflections on 25 Years Working With Beavers
Mike Callahan became an accidental beaver advocate in 1998 when he and his wife volunteered to help a nearby Massachusetts city to coexist with beavers who were flooding residents’ basements. Since those innocuous volunteer beginnings 25 years ago, beavers become the central focus of his life.
Since 2000, he has nonlethally resolved over 2,000 human conflicts with beavers with his Massachusetts-based business Beaver Solutions. Then, in 2017 to spread knowledge and awareness of the beaver coexistence lessons he learned, he founded the nonprofit Beaver Institute Inc. and created its BeaverCorps Training Program. The BeaverCorps Program has been training beaver wetland professionals across the US and Canada for several years.
Over the past two and a half decades, Mike has been a participant and witness to a growing societal shift in attitudes towards beavers. Once predominately viewed as a pest, due to the tireless work of countless individuals and organizations, beavers are more and more being recognized as the Keystone species and Climate Resilience building animals that they are. We are nearing a tipping point where the value of beavers is becoming mainstream knowledge.
Mike will provide a first-hand account of the history of this shift. He will share his experiences, as well as the stories of many of the people and organizations that have been instrumental to the expanding awareness and growing movement to restore beavers across our landscape.
Since 1998 Mike Callahan has been working to promote coexistence with beavers. First as a volunteer, and then with his Massachusetts-based business Beaver Solutions LLC. In that time he has nonlethally resolved nearly 2,000 beaver related flooding conflicts using innovative water control devices (a.k.a. flow devices) that resolve landowner conflicts while allowing the beavers to remain on the landscape.
In 2017 Mike founded the nonprofit Beaver Institute Inc. The Beaver Institute trains others to do this work professionally, and also raises awareness about the importance of beaver wetlands. He currently is training beaver wetland experts across the US and Canada. The Beaver Institute is internationally recognized as a leading authority on beavers and beaver management. In his spare time Mike enjoys quiet time spent in nature, reading, kayaking, spiritual pursuits, and spending time with family and friends.
Leila Phillip, Professor Environmental Studies Program at the College of the Holy Cross
Writing & Activism: Or how to tell a Good Environmental Story when no one is listening (and the planet is melting)
In this illustrated talk, award-winning author Leila Philip will discuss her journey to research, write and publish Beaverland: How One Weird Rodent Made America, (Twelve Books, December 2022). Lauded by critics as a “model for 21-century environmental writing”, Beaverland was reviewed by the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and the New York Times, where it was named an Editor’s Choice. It was featured on NPR and Science Friday where it became January’s book of the month.
In this talk, Philip will discuss the many choices involved in researching, writing then choosing a publisher for her book — then the experience of bringing Beaverland into the world — a process she is still engaged with by actively speaking on radio, print media and podcast venues to speak about beavers and advocate for the important role they have to play as we face rapidly accelerating climate change.
Many people love beavers, and increasing numbers of people understand why they are a keystone species, but many do not and we have a long cultural history of regarding beavers first as pelts, then as pests — a history filled with misinformation and bias. Beavers need a re-brand and throughout the country, beaver management needs critical revision. Yet, how can we accomplish lasting social and environmental policy change? In this presentation, Philip engages the ways storytelling can be harnessed as a valuable means to create engagement, community and collaboration.
Leila Philip is an award-winning author whose most recent book, Beaverland, is a New York Times Editor’s Choice and NPR Science Friday Book Club selection, which The Wall Street Journal called “as full of charm and wonder as its beguiling protagonist.”
A Guggenheim Fellow, Philip has also been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. She was a contributing columnist at the Boston Globe and teaches in the Environmental Studies Program at the College of the Holy Cross where she holds the Brooks Chair in the Humanities.
“Being useful humans; a strategic framework for partnering with beavers at landscape scale”
Jakob Shockey, Project Beaver co/founder and Leader
Jakob Shockey is a human, father and husband. He works primarily with beavers and people, focusing on the restoration of complex natural processes and relationships that create and maintain resilient habitat and its wildlife. Jakob co-founded and leads Project Beaver, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering humans to partner with beavers and value their works. He also sings to himself, loves flying kites and can’t spell.
Regulatory Issues Related to Coexisting with Beaver in Oregon
Rob Walton, retired NOAA Fisheries Services Policy Writer
Numerous plans and agreements, including The Private Forest Accord, ODFW’s 3-Year Action Plan for
Beaver-Modified Landscapes, and federal and state salmon recovery and conservation plans call for more beaver, beaver dam analogues, and the use of beaver coexistence devices.
Is a permit required to install a beaver coexistence device in Oregon? From what agencies? Numerous federal statutes, regulations and policies are intended to protect water quality and aquatic species. These include, but are not limited to, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) (threatened and endangered salmon), the Clean Water Act, Coastal Zone Management Act, Rivers and Harbor’s Act and FEMA’s no-rise rule. State regulatory management adds additional protections in Oregon and many other states. These environmental protections create questions and challenges relating to the installation of beaver coexistence devices.
What will it take to establish pathways to allow the installation of beaver coexistence devices?
Rob will present the latest information he has about the opportunities and challenges related to the regulatory mechanisms and the installation of beaver coexistence devices.
7938 SE 35th Ave Portland, OR 97202
503 833-2266 (mobile)
In September 2019, the Maidu Summit Consortium regained title to 2300 meadow acres of their ancestral lands. We started building beaver habitat the very next day, and have since hand-built 300+ structures in the meadow to prepare beaver habitat for what we thought would be their “eventual” re-introduction. Which is happening faster than we dared hope—CDFW will be moving beavers to the meadow this year. In this slideshow I’ll talk about who we’ve partnered with, what we built, how that’s done, the results we’re seeing, and what it took to make this happen. Lots of pictures, few charts and graphs.
Kevin Swift grew up playing in the mud in our National Parks, and now does so for a living. In the 5 years since starting Swift Water Design, he’s hand-built 2500 beaver dam analogues on over 40 miles of streams and rivers, from Idaho to the Klamath basin to the Southern Sierras. “I’m a two-legged beaver, 5 million years late to the party but learning fast.”
Coastal beaver, Chinook, coho, chum salmon and trout response to nearshore changes resulting from diking and large-scale dam removals: synergistic ecosystem engineering and restoration in the coastal zone
Anne Shaffer, Ph.D. Coastal Watershed Institute (CWI)
In this paper we assess long-term trends and habitat changes to understand the relationships between coastal beaver (Castor canadensis), salmon, shoreline alterations, large-scale dam removals and nearshore ecological restoration. From this work we conclude that the removal of two large-scale dams in the Elwha River has benefited beaver use of the coastal zone through water quality changes that allow beaver to re-establish high-quality zones and the expansion of riparian zones that provide extensive new food resources to beaver. However, the lower river hydrodynamic processes continue to be disrupted by a 200-meter earthen dike installed by local government and landowners for flood protection in the Elwha coastal zone in the 1960’s. The dike acts as a driver of lower river geomorphology and has resulted in the formation of a large and persistent lateral bar along the lower river channel. Associated disrupted hydrodynamics are causing a critical coastal zone of the un-impounded lower river side channels to fill in. This channel habitat has decreased by 23%, with an annual average shrinkage rate of 13%, from pre-dam removal size, resulting in a decrease in both quality and quantity of nursery function for juvenile wild fish in a coastal zone that was historically documented to be the highest functioning for endangered juvenile salmon and trout. Inversely, physical changes including improved water quality in the adjacent impounded west side channel and continued expansion of riparian vegetation along the west delta lateral bar benefitted coastal beaver that recolonized the west delta after dam removals. The newly colonized coastal beaver may provide ecological engineering services to offset side channel loss as well as promote continued fish access. However, recreational use was found to negatively impact beaver use of the area. We therefore recommend a series of additional ecosystem restoration actions that incorporate beaver as an ecosystem restoration component of the coastal zone. These actions include a public outreach pro- gram to encourage passive recreation measures to prevent negative impacts to beaver, and legacy, ecosystem scale restoration projects that reconnect the hydrodynamics of the west delta to complete Elwha ecosystem restoration. Together, these steps, if implemented, will result in a synergistic ecosystem restoration throughout the watershed to the benefit of the coastal ecosystem, including both beaver and salmon, as intended by the large-scale dam removal project.
Anne Shaffer Bio
Dr Anne Shaffer is the Executive Director and Lead Scientist of the Coastal Watershed Institute (CWI), a small, place based environmental non-profit dedicated to understanding, protecting, and restoring coastal ecosystems thru community led scientific partnerships. Anne and a small group of colleagues first formed CWI in 1996. Thru Anne’s leadership CWI conducts world class coastal ecosystem science, conservation, and restoration with very modest resources in a remote and often extremely challenging, politically conservative, community.
A nearshore marine scientist and manager for her entire career, Anne has authored over forty scientific papers, most as senior author. Professional awards received by Anne and the organization she leads include the NOAA/AFS Nancy Foster Award (Awarded 2020) American Fisheries Science (AFS) Conservation Organization of the Year (CWI Awarded 2019), Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) Conservationist of the Year Award (CWI Awarded 2013, 2019), Seattle Aquarium Conservation Research Science Award (Awarded 2019).
Born and raised in rural eastern Washington, Anne and her husband Dave Parks, a leader in coastal hydrogeology, have lived on the Olympic Peninsula for over 30 years. After raising their two children Anne, teetering on the age of 60, returned to academia and earned her PhD in Marine Ecology from the University of Victoria. She and Dave continue their dedication to understanding, conserving, restoring, and promoting the physical and ecological processes of our wild Pacific Northwest coastlines, and most recently, the role of beaver there.