Sunday, December 9, 2012

Not So Angry Beaver

Lumps of sawdust poop laid on the bottom, and a fresh beaver chew was placed against what appeared to be an old beaver dam. More chew sticks and feces were on the bottom near what I suspected was a bank den. I thought this creek was partially beaver controlled, and these fresh signs prove it. That might explain the greater than expected diversity and abundance of fish we see in this small creek. In her book, Water, Alice Atwater presents a compelling argument about how beaver were responsible for water quality in North America. These large rodents were extremely abundant, and dammed flowing waters to form beaver ponds. Beaver ponds trap sediment, act as great filters for water, and create a diversity of habitats. Diverse habitats and clean water support biologically rich ecosystems. Beaver were trapped out initially for their fur and later because we consider them nuisances. As the beaver were removed, so were the benefits of their engineering. Today they are returning to even urban streams, though we still tend to remove them when they create what we consider flooding problems. Maybe part of the solution to restoring stream health is to leave the beaver alone. The beaver are welcome here at Eden Mill and we enjoy the benefits they provide to this stream.

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