Project Background

Following several meetings between the Forest Service and Wyoming Untrapped in which the benefits that beavers have to the forest were a topic, an idea was formed that would bring together many community partners and would help to reestablish populations of beavers on National Forest Service land.

There is a lack of tolerance for beavers as well as a lack of public awareness of the benefits that beavers provide ecologically. Beavers are an integral keystone species that gets little attention by wildlife managers but have substantial, positive impacts to the ecosystem. Increasing knowledge and a love of beavers in children will increase the understanding of this unique species which will lead to a growth in tolerance and co-existence with this valuable, beneficial species. Students will gain scientific knowledge about hydrology, ecology, biology, and engineering using hands-on solutions to real-world problems. Students will gain knowledge of careers by meeting members of the community to whom they are rarely exposed.

Why does the U.S. Forest Service want beavers back?

Due to years of heavy agricultural use, the Bridger-Teton National Forest has many habitat areas that are in desperate need of improvement. Stream banks have been denuded, new growth has been stunted, and valuable songbird, waterfowl, and mammal habitat has been lost. Historical unregulated trapping caused beaver populations to plummet and continued trapping has prevented populations from rebounding to ideal levels. Reintroducing beavers that are involved in conflict on private property to areas within the forest is a long-term, cost-effective solution to correcting these issues. Acres of forest habitat needs rehabilitated which would take human workers thousands of hours and tens of thousands of dollars. Beavers can do a better job than humans at rehabilitation of habitat virtually for free.

Why trapping beavers isn't a solution

Beavers establish a home in a particular area for availability of the food, shelter, and water they need. Trapping beavers out of a region only leaves an ecological void which will ultimately be filled by more beavers because of the available resources. Instead of trapping and killing beavers, we can help landowners create solutions to live with the industrious creatures or move the beavers to a more suitable wild location on the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Beavers can enhance a property and add lush wetlands that provide fire protection and wildlife habitat that will lure a myriad of wild creatures to the area.

Project Partners

Goals

of the project

The goals of this project are to work with area youth to mitigate the effects of human-beaver conflicts, relocate beavers to suitable areas of the forest, compare and contrast forest conditions before and after beaver reintroduction, study the effects of beaver dams and lodges on forest hydrology, and review the history of beavers and their impact on settlement of Jackson Hole. This program will also encourage the establishment of beavers in portions of the Bridger-Teton National Forest in order to enhance the ecology of the forest with emphasis on the improvement and enrichment of existing wetlands and the creation of new wetlands. The forest wishes to elevate the prominence of beavers and how they contribute to the Wild and Scenic designation for area rivers as part of the revision efforts of the forest management plan. Beavers are masterful at restoration and provide mitigation for the effects of climate change which is another important component to the forest plan.

Webster’s dictionary defines a keystone species as: “a species of plant or animal that produces a major impact on its ecosystem and is considered essential to maintaining optimum ecosystem function or structure”

Beavers are the perfect example of a keystone species as a wide range of animals and plants depend on the wetlands created by the beavers. The figure to the right shows just a few of the animals that benefit from beavers and the wetlands they create.

Thanks to Worth a Dam and Tina Curiel of Coyote Brush Studios for this beautiful and informative image.

Upcoming Beaver Awareness Project Events

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Coburn Meadows Site Visit 9:00 am
Coburn Meadows Site Visit @ Coburn Meadows
Aug 28 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
This will be a tour of the main study location of Coburn Meadows along Fall Creek where currently a restoration project is being conducted to preserve the integrity of the ecosystem.  Project partners will be[...]
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