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The Beaver Restoration Guidebook: Working with Beaver to Restore Streams, Wetlands, and Floodplains

USDA Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Michael Pollock, Gregory Lewallen, Kent Woodruff, Chris Jordan, and Janine Castro
Created: 7/01/2015 - Updated: 11/06/2018

Abstract

More and more, restoration practitioners are using beaver to accomplish stream, wetland, and floodplain restoration. This is happening because, by constructing dams that impound water and retain sediment, beaver substantially alter the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of the surrounding river ecosystem, providing benefits to plants, fish, and wildlife. The possible results are many, inclusive of: higher water tables; reconnected and expanded floodplains; more hyporheic exchange; higher summer base flows; expanded wetlands; improved water quality; greater habitat complexity; more diversity and richness in the populations of plants, birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals; and overall increased complexity of the river ecosystem.

In many cases these effects are the very same outcomes that have been identified for river restoration projects. Thus, by creating new and more complex habitat in degraded systems, beaver dams (and their human-facilitated analogues) have the potential to help restoration practitioners achieve their objectives. Beaver can be our new partner in habitat restoration.

Yet even though the potential benefits of restoring beaver populations on the landscape are numerous, so, too, is the potential for beaver/human conflicts. These conflicts can arise from an overlap of preferred habitats by both humans and beavers, misunderstandings of how beavers modify their habitats, and a lack of planning or use of adaptive management on restoration projects. Reviewing the information provided in this guidebook will help interested parties approach beaver-based restoration from a more informed perspective, so that they can manage expectations and increase the likelihood of success. 

Published On

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Keywords

Target Climate Changes and Impacts: 
Air temperature
Flow patterns
Habitat extent
Snowpack
Water temperature
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy: 
Natural Resource Management / Conservation
Reduce local climate or related change
Reduce non-climate stressors
Sociopolitical Setting: 
Urban
Rural
Suburban

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