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News

The latest goings-on at the MidCoast Watersheds Council

Beavers and Conservation in Oregon Coastal Watersheds

MidCoast Watersheds Council

What happens when busy beavers make a pond that starts flooding the drive to your home?

Fortunately for the beavers, a property owner on the Yaquina River loved the beauty and tranquility of the pond and its wildlife and contacted the Central Coast Land Conservancy which holds an easement on the property.

They in turn contacted the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC) and the MidCoast Watersheds Council (MCWC), which has been working to promote “living with beavers” because of beaver’s important role in helping Coho salmon, cutthroat trout, and water quantity and quality.

“We spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on restoration projects for salmon,” says Fran Recht, of PSMFC’s habitat program, “where beavers can do many of the same thing for free”. Recht says that it appears that beaver populations have declined greatly on our central coast, so that increasing human tolerance for the critters is important. “Dam building beavers are especially helpful for salmon, but even the bank dens provide complex areas of slower water that juvenile salmon can utilize” says Recht.

With a simple fix of a pond leveler made with donated materials from a private landowner and a small piece of caging from the Lincoln Soil and Water Conservation District, a few hours of paid labor, the problem was solved, with the pond level still adequate for the beavers to hide, but a few inches lower so it doesn’t flood the road.

“Beavers may be industrious engineers”, says Wayne Hoffman, of the MidCoast Watersheds Council, “but we’re smarter. We can enjoy their benefits, while easily solving the problems they may cause. Plugged culverts—no problem—a trapezoidal barrier of stakes upstream from its mouth that don’t block salmon migration; favorite trees being gnawed; easy to cage those you want to protect; and the pond leveler works well too, though care has to be taken not to let too much water drain out.” He also noted that landowners can help beavers out by planting streamside vegetation such as willows, vine maples, cottonwoods for food and alders and conifers for building materials.”

For those wanting help in dealing with beaver while allowing them to thrive, contact the MCWC