From the field this past year we saw dramatically reduced waterways - the habitable footprint for beavers - around our Deschutes River Basin and high desert regions, this past 3rd year of extreme drought.
With a priority for safety to keep proximate to safety zone - in a hydrologically disconnected water ways (pools and puddles, vs. flowing streams) this put tremendous pressure on existing food stores for existing families.
We encountered two predations this year, at two of our four most active monitoring sites. Adult beavers who had harvested well beyond a 75' safety zone from the water's edge.
An increased reliance on juniper, sage and golden currant - some of beavers least preferred food species. And taking risks to harvest.
We consider the new year ahead with focus on establishing BeaverHOODs. A formula, approach, strategy and holistic way of looking at the landscape and what Beavers Need to Succeed, developed by our friend and program mentor, Jefferson Jacobs.
Although much talk in the news media this past year around beaver relocation - our focus remains on natural beaver recovery - through a build it an they will come approach.
Thanks to generous donors and almost entirely volunteer lead and supported activities, working together we:
- Launched our new Habitat program through volunteer crews
With the help of 50 different habitat volunteers this spring, we conducted eight different habitat enhancement projects - including four on private lands, and three on USFS/BLM lands – for a total of 550 volunteer hours, and 2600 trees planted. View the photo gallery.
- Conducted our first in-the-field landholder workshop: Beavers in Our Landscape.
- Collected, reviewed, and organized ~840 hours of trail camera footage at 4 different monitoring sites around the Deschutes Basin.
Valuable insights are gathered from monitoring, coupled with field observations and photo points documenting change over time, this work tells us: what beavers are eating and when, what motivates beavers to strengthen their dams and dens, when to take risks (of predation) by leaving the safety of their ponds, how beavers are responding to drought as streams begin to dry, family dynamics, and more.
- Completed our first BDA's in Practice workshop for Oregon restoration practitioners.
This one day workshop provided a good grounding for attendees on the current sad condition of streams throughout most of eastern Oregon. Presenters discussed how we got here, the benefits of process based restoration ("PBR") projects to watershed health and riparian recovery, how to get started with "PBR" and how when beavers have the right habitat conditions and food supplies to settle, and invest in 'family building' along a stream reach.... magic can happen.
- Launched and co-hosted our community event series with the Crooked River Watershed Council, titled: Your Watershed : Community Conversations - promoting Education and conservation through Conversation. Learn more at www.yourwatershed.net.