Column: SLO Beaver Brigade seeks public help with survey
Local group dedicated to education about the largest rodent in North America
– Did you know there is local group dedicated to the largest rodent in North America? Well, welcome to the SLO Beaver Brigade, a local organization committed to stewarding wetland health brought about by beavers. They do this by educating the public on the benefits beavers bring to our watersheds. Formed in 2020 by Audrey Taub, the SLO Beaver Brigade is busy leading educational walks to beaver ponds (Watery Walks), supporting research on beavers, organizing creek clean-ups, and implementing beaver restoration techniques.
They could use your help too. Beginning Saturday, June 18, and continuing on July 23 and August 13 they are conducting the SLO County Citizen Science Beaver Survey. You can join the fun and contribute to beaver science by walking the rivers and creeks with them to gather beaver data.
Using iNaturalist which can be downloaded on your smart device you will be able to enter all the pertinent information. SLO Beaver Brigade will offer a short educational introduction before everyone heads out to the waterways. There will be different meet-up locations for each date and you can sign up and get all the needed information on the home page of their website at www.slobeaverbrigade.com. Survey walks will take place at Arroyo Grande Creek and the Salinas River.
Why beavers? You may be asking. Well, this interesting flat-tailed rodent is instrumental in controlling a number of environmental conditions that currently are plaguing us. Beavers have the ability to change the landscape second only to us humans. By damming rivers and streams, they raise the water level to surround their lodge with a protective moat.
We live in times of historic drought and the threat of wildfires. Storing this water on the landscape provides much-needed fire breaks. They also help replenish the water table, reduce streamside erosion, improve water quality, and increase plant and animal diversity.Another beneficial effect of the work of beavers is how their dams help salmon and local steelhead make their way upstream to spawn. There are some scientific experiments that appear to say that salmon may have learned how to jump up natural dams by doing so on beaver dams. Scientists are now building artificial dams sized and shaped like beaver dams in streams and creeks to benefit steelhead.
Governor Gavin Newsom has proposed a beaver restoration program to be run by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “To be successful in our efforts to protect biodiversity,” Newsom said, “the Department must take a proactive leap towards bringing beavers back onto the landscape. Beavers are an untapped, creative climate solving hero that helps prevent the loss of biodiversity facing California.” The Governor has proposed expenditures to the legislature and both houses must vote to formally adopt the final budget by midnight on June 15.
The public can learn a whole lot more about beavers by going on a SLO Beaver Brigade monthly “Watery Walk.” You will see a beaver dam and learn all about their lodges, why they build them and how they help remove carbon from the atmosphere, provide resiliency through droughts, and aid during wildfires. You will get to see the lush habitat created by beavers right here in our North County. Beavers are active on Atascadero Creek and the Salinas River. To sign up go to www.slobeaverbrigade.com.
Residents who may be having issues with beaver activities on or around their properties can contact the SLO Beaver Brigade to obtain resources for assistance.