Beavers are more than intriguing animals with flat tails and lustrous fur. American Indians called the beaver the "sacred center" of the land because this species creates rich habitats for other mammals, fish, turtles, frogs, birds, and ducks. Since beavers prefer to dam small streams in shallow valleys, nuch of the flooded area becomes wetlands. In larger streams they often do not even build dams. Wetlands are low lying lands or areas, such as marshes or swamps that are covered, often intermittently with shallow water or have sols saturated with moisture. Beavers reliably and economically maintain wetlands that can sponge up floodwaters, prevent erosion, and raise the water table. Over time, beaver wetlands eventually develop into lush beaver meadows.
It is estimated that in primitive times 60,000,000 beavers were in North America. Beaver pelts became important in the fashion markets of Europe and many beavers were killed to satisfy this demand. By 1890 the beaver population was at a low level and severly depleted. Today, beaver populations are abundant all over North America. Beavers, transplanted in strategic areas, can greatly improve wildlife and wateshed habitat.
Did you Know Beavers...........
- adult beavers are 20 to 30 inches in length and have a tail 10-12 inches long
- favorite foods are water lily tubers, clover, apples, leaves, and bark
- mate for life, breed only once a year and average four kits per liter
- can remain underwater for 15 minutes without surfacing
- have transparent eyelids that function much like goggles
What can Beavers do for you?
- store spring runoff in ponds for late season release into streams
- provide season-long flood irrigated pastures that are maintenance free
- expand highly productive wetland pastures and increase forage production
- slow high velocity flows and reduce bank erosion
- trap sediments behind their dams and speed up the recovery rate of down cut stream channels
- trap sediments to provide cleaner water downstream for fish
- improve habitat for fish and many wildlife species
- raise groundwdater levels
- reduce stream floods and droughts
- can turn an intermittent stream into streams that flow year roud
- beaver dams generally do not block fish migration, but the beaver ponds actually serve as critical areas for development of young fish
- cool water downstream of dams
- create meadows of rich soil and vegetation
Overall, the benefits to stream habitat and overall improvements to hydrology, especially in drier areas, far outweigh the occasional nuisance problems they cause.
Living with Wildlife: American Beaver>
(Oregon Departent of Fish and Wildlife)
Beaver Management Project
Water supply and quality issues in the Klamath Basin are significant. Beavers can provide low cost solutions including greater drought resiliency, increased water storage, riparian restoration, improved water quality and ESA-listed species recovery. The Klamath Basin Beaver Management Project brings together a coalition of partners from across the Basin working to restore beaver to unoccupied habitat, mitigate beaver damage complaints in a timely manner, provide technical support for nonlethal control methods, identify suitable beaver colony relocation sites and provide a beaver restoration information/education network. This effort is designed to provide the foundation for a 10-year Klamath Basin wide beaver restoration effort.
Year One Accomplishments
In the first year of a three year grant, the Klamath Watershed Partnership, the Fremont-Winema National Forests and other partners, began work on a beaver management project to address water quality and supply issues in the Klamath Basin, using beavers. A coalition of partners including The Klamath Tribes, state and federal government agencies, private landowners, volunteers, and others were brought together to address this critical issue. A Beaver Management Team was developed consisting of KWP staff, traping experts, fluvial geomorphologist, biologists, a professional photographer, and volunteers who put in countless hours on this project.
Baseline historic, current and potential beaver habitat assessment maps were developed and completed for the Sprague and Upper Williamson River areas. This was accomplished by gathering historic beaver activity documentation from partners and local expertise in these areas; walking these areas and mapping noted beaver activity, both past and present; and team members flying with volunteer pilots over areas where it was impossible to assess the beaver activity on the ground. Once the maps were completed, an information meeting and field tours were conducted for private landowners,volunteers, community officials, state and federal government agencies, tribal members, and KWP board members. The purpose of the meeting and field tousr was to provide information about the beaver management project.
A "Guidelines for Nuisance Beaver Mitigation" procedure was developed between the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), US Forest Service (FS), and the Klamath Watershed Partneship (KWP), which was in accordance with ODFW regulations.
Members from the Beaver Management Team received several calls from landowerns asking for assistance with beaver that were damming up creeks and culverts, causing flooding in grazing lands and washing away roads. Mitigation procedures were implemented to assist with the problem.
Year Two Accomplishments
Year two of the project was to identify priority beaver release sites and actual relocation of nuisance beaver to the priority locations. Several beaver relocation sites were identified by membrs of the beaver management team and were verified by ODFW as good potential sites and pre-release information was completed in accordance with ODFW guidelines. Necessary wildlife trap and transport permits were obtained prior to release of beaver and necessary landowner signatures were obtained.
The beaver management successfully relocated seven beavers to two ODFW approved relocation sites in the Upper Williamson area. Two of the beavers were tagged with radio transmitters to track their behavior for two years by members of the beaver management team.
Members of the Beaver Management Team continued to work with landowners who contacted them about nuisance beaver on their property. Beaver mitigation procedures were implemented to detour beavers from building their dams causing damage.
Members of the Beaver Management Team have been working with the Director, Environmental Sciences Program Department of Natural Sciences at Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls, Oregon and some of his students to do water monitoring at sites where beaver mitigation procedures were installed on Forest Service property. This monitoring was conducted prior to mitigation procedures, and will be monitored in future years.
Because of the success of the program, members of the beaver management team were asked to give a presention about the project at the 2013 State of the Beaver Conference.
Year Three.....And Beyond!
Beaver relocation to unoccupied habitat in higher elevations will continue through the third year. Identified relocation sites will be readied for beaver habitat and necessary paperwork completed. Outreach and education will be significant with this phase, working with landowners in proposed relocation areas to educate them on the benefits of relocation beaver for restoring beaver to unoccupied habitat. The beaver management team will be collecting post-introduction data, completing data analysis, preparing project summaries and assessing the value of the effort for sharing with other parties.
As part of our outreach and education, the beaver management team invited Erick Nobel, Klamath Falls City Planner, and his two boys, Jens and Finn, to help with the monitoring of the relocated beavers. The boys gathered wood to take to the beaver relocation site because they wanted to make sure the beaver had enough wood for building their homes for the winter. It was a fabulous day and the boys were very helpful in holding and working the tracking devices to find the beaver. Three days later Finn, 4-years old, passed away. The Beaver Management Team has dedicated this program to Finn and will name the first beaver caught in year three Finn.
In 2014 we held a 2-day Beaver Management Workshop. Dr. Wheaton, an Assistant Professor at Utah State University and a fluvial geomorphologist with fifteen years of experience in river restoration provided valuable information about the "cheap Engineers". Participants were provided an opportunity to see active beaver bonds and looked at beaver mitigation opportunities in Klamath County. Attached is the Beaver Relocation Presentation>
The beaver management team is always lookingfor volunteers to help with various aspects of the project. If you are interested in being a part of this team, please contact us.