The Lands Council in Spokane Washington has been fortunate to work for two years under NFF funding in the Matching Awards Program. Our focus has been beaver habitat restoration at the Colville National Forest region in Washington State. We take pride in having the most diversified strategies out of the numerous beaver projects nationwide.
With NFF support, we were able to trap and relocate numerous beavers, install beaver proofing devices, suggest policy on wildlife (beaver) management, and monitor beaver ecosystems using a sophisticated yet citizen-science approach. We collaborated with numerous agencies and groups such as the U.S. Forest Service and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. These connections provided resources such as beaver nuisance cases and relocation sites. Our field crews included dozens of volunteers and interns with an investment in community and the environment. Many also had career goals in biology.
Beavers are increasingly acknowledged as keystone species. They are vital components of forest habitat and wetland creation in stream areas. Our beaver trapping strategy targets irresolvable “nuisance” beaver situations. In these cases we live trap them, hold them for observation, and then release them at designated sites in the Colville National Forest. In ideal circumstances, we can resolve the nuisance issue with beaver proofing devices such as tree caging, thus leaving the beavers undisturbed.
Our monitoring results show that sites with long-term beaver activity have the greatest habitat features.
We compare these results with preliminary and early conditions of our relocations, as well as human engineered wetlands. Therefore, keeping them in place and out of trouble is usually a more effective and feasible approach to reaching habitat goals than relocations. But it is important to have multiple solutions at hand. Consulting and educating landowners with beaver issues about costs, benefits and resources are perhaps the most important actions. We are grateful for the support of NFF, and hope to continue with steps forward in beaver management.