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Beavers To The Rescue

12-23-15 beaver dam & pussy willow IMG_5739With peepers peeping and pussy willows starting to poke their heads out of local willows in mid- late December, it is clear that in the coming years humans will need to adapt to the effects of climate change. Help with that mission may come from many sources, including beavers, whose landscape alterations have been shown to mitigate many of the more extreme conditions caused by climate change. Where beaver dams are persistent, they may sequester sediment and create wet meadows that can moderate floods, augment early summer baseflows, sequester carbon in soils and standing biomass, decrease ecological problems posed by earlier spring stream recession, and potentially help cool early summer and post-wildfire stream temperatures. (Jeff Baldwin, California Fish & Game) How fortunate that silk hats became fashionable in the early 1800’s, decreasing the demand for beaver pelts and rescuing beavers from extinction.

14 responses

  1. Jackie Ascrizzi

    I have beavers in my pond and love to watch them and learn about them. But this quote from Jeff Baldwin is so scientifically worded. Can you translate into a more layman’s terms so I can really understand how beavers can help us deal with climate change?

    Jackie Ascrizzi Montville, ME

    December 23, 2015 at 7:45 am

    • In essence, he is saying that beaver dams are a source of water retention that reduces flooding as well as tempers the effects of heat and drought.

      December 23, 2015 at 8:59 am

  2. Victoria Davis

    Silk hats may also have rescued the people making beaver pelt hats from further mercury poisoning as mercury was used to treat the pelts and caused brain damage. The term “Mad Hatter” came from this period of time.

    December 23, 2015 at 7:56 am

    • Unfortunately in the U.S. (particularly in NJ and Danbury, CT – the hat-making capital of the world) mercury wasn’t banned from use in the industry until 1941, though it’s effects were known for more than a century before that. My great-grandfather, who worked as a Danbury hatter and with whom I was close, was forced into early unemployment due to the “Danbury Shakes” or Mad Hatters’ disease. Even so, he lived to be 100. The perils to animals, workers and the environment were high in the tanning and felting industries.

      December 23, 2015 at 10:46 am

      • Thank you for sharing that, Cherrie. How sad that it wasn’t exposed earlier, but we do the same thing today (tobacco) so I shouldn’t be surprised. Have a wonderful Christmas. Mary

        December 23, 2015 at 11:57 am

    • That is an interesting “Karmic” twist!

      December 24, 2015 at 9:04 am

  3. Mary Chivers

    Dear Mary Holland,  I have been enjoying your postings so much this year! And I love beaver. Christmas best wishes to you! In appreciation,  Mary Chivers

    December 23, 2015 at 4:30 pm

    • Thank you so much, Mary. I’m delighted that you enjoy my blog – and a very Merry Christmas to you and your family!

      December 23, 2015 at 5:03 pm

  4. Cecelia Blair

    Beavers turned out to be providing sewage treatment on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in the early 1970’s. A plant had been built but not maintained and some years later when it finally was checked, it was discovered that raw sewage had been heading straight into the creek except that beavers had built a series of three ponds below it and were inadvertently providing the needed purification.

    December 23, 2015 at 5:00 pm

  5. Thanks for this timely reminder of the value of Beaver and their active wetland work!!

    December 24, 2015 at 9:01 am

  6. Our area has lots of beavers and they are definitely increasing with the decline of trapping, as a result of banning of certain traps and fashion houses turning to faux furs. I applaud their presence and habitat construction, although a few folk in town have issues with flooded yards and basements!

    December 25, 2015 at 12:48 pm

  7. When unwanted beaver flooding occurs, as Eliza mentioned in her comments, modern flow devices can provide lasting, peaceful solutions. See for more information.

    December 29, 2015 at 11:52 am

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