Beaver Redux 

This wild rodent, favored for its fur and at one time reviled for its destructive habits in riparian areas, has received new respect from environmentalists. These creatures are being welcomed into the landscape as a defense against the withering effects of a warmer and drier climate. Recent studies have shown that beaver dams have beneficial effects by raising the water table alongside a stream, aiding the growth of trees and plants that stabilize the banks and prevent erosion. They improve fish and wildlife habitat and promote new, rich soil. And perhaps most important in the the arid Southwest, is that beaver dams hold back water that would otherwise drain away. Experts have long known of the potential for beaver dams to restore damaged landscapes, but in recent years the demand has grown so rapidly that government agencies are sponsoring a series of West Coast workshops and publishing a manual on how to attract beavers. The pooling of water behind a beaver dam leads to a cascade of ecological changes, such as nourishing young willows, aspens and other trees, providing a haven for fish that like slow-flowing water, and promoting the growth of grass and shrubs alongside the pond which improves habitat for songbirds, deer and elk. Read more about the efforts to use beavers in habitat restoration at  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/28

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