Beaver Restoration Plan Could Help Climate Adaptation

Bryan Bird, Wild Places Program Director, WildEarth Guardians
Photos by Andrew Nguyen
From March 2014 newsletter

365Our climate hero, the American beaver, will be getting its own management plan in New Mexico after the state senate passed a memorial recognizing the busy rodent’s value to water supplies and ecosystems-especially in times of drought. The beaver memorial acknowledges that the dams, ponds and associated wetlands created by beaver are known to increase groundwater percolation, which raises local groundwater tables and increases water storage.  The memorial also recognizes the critical role that ecosystem restoration could play in protecting and recovering many imperiled species.

364WildEarth Guardians worked with state lawmakers to draft the memorial and shepherd it through the state legislature. The memorial directs the state wildlife agency and other relevant agencies to report back to the legislature by September 1st on an approach for how best to develop the beaver management plan.

Only Oregon and Utah have statewide beaver management plans, both of which recognize the climate adaptation benefits beaver can offer. A WildEarth Guardians statewide assessment found beaver populations are dangerously low on public lands in New Mexico. Over 80% of streams on public lands could support the dam-building ecosystem engineer. And yet recent surveys have found few active beaver in streams and rivers on national forests in the state.

366Now the hard work begins of coordinating a multi-agency and stakeholder process to develop the management plan that benefits beaver and New Mexico’s headwaters. WildEarth Guardians will continue to lead the reestablishment of functional beaver populations on public lands across the state, and you can learn more at http://www.wildearthguardians.org

This is a big victory for beaver and ecosystems in the West and we hope you will join us and support this critical ecosystem restoration and climate adaptation work.

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