Friday, 17 November 2017 04:55

Beavers: the ultimate ecosystem engineers, can help in restoring the prairies’ watersheds

Written by  Jamie Rieger
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Putting Beavers to work for watershed resiliency and restoration symposium is being hosted by the Miistakis Institute and the Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society (Cows and Fish), comes as the result of a lengthy study that looked at how landowners and beavers can co-exist in such a way to improve the storage of water, particularly during times of flood and drought.

Rob Gardner, Medicine Hat-based conservationist and consultant will provide a grassland perspective at the symposium.
"People can not afford to build more dams and canals to protect from floods and drought," said Gardner. "There is a natural process called the beaver that has always done its work, but has not been approved by people who want to use the same resource. We need to work to each other's strengths."
Over the past several years, Gardner has traveled many kilometers to different locations looking a the benefits of having beavers close by.
"I have been in areas where beavers can and have survived in the past. I was in one field where there were no shrubs and there was a beaver dam," he said. "There were probably once living everywhere and they can again."
"The bottom line is here in southeast Alberta, droughts will become more common and so will floods," he said.
The hope is that landowners will develop a working relationship with the beavers.
"If a beaver is established on a stream on a rancher's property, just leave him there," said Gardner.
Beavers and humans have come into conflict by damage they can cause by flooding roads, plugging culverts and taking down trees which has led to the beavers being removed in one form or another.
"People develop infrastructure like hay fields, winter feeding areas, and sometimes houses and lots build without conflict, but there are things we can be doing," he said.
"On a two-mile square, we put the water source in the middle. The cattle will start and work their way out and it leaves a lot of grass not being grazed at the outside edges. Put other water sources there and there will be more opportunities for grazing. You will have a better distribution of water, so more cattle can be there," he added.
The three topics of discussion at the symposium will include:
1. Beaver ecology, biology, and research;
2. Beavers management in Alberta;
3. Human-beaver coexistence approaches.
The Beaver symposium takes place on Dec. 7 at the Cochrane RancheHouse in Cochrane.
Anybody interested in attending can register via the Eventbrite Link:
If you have any questions or would like the registration link emailed to you, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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