by Mary O’Brien, Utah Forests Program Director
From the last Ice Age up until 200 years ago, nearly every national forest in the U.S. supported beaver. But today, these vital ecosystem engineers are mostly absent from the landscape.
Beaver, whose dams help slow the flow of water, play a key role in the health of our forests. They create wetlands, reduce the force of floods, and expand riparian habitat for wildlife. In our new 13-minute video “Beaver: Back to the Future,” four Forest Service employees and a retired Regional Forester eloquently and enthusiastically praise the power of beaver to beneficially restore and manage national forest water flows in the face of climate change.
While the video begins with historical footage chronicling early decimation of beaver on our continent, filmmaker Sarah Koenigsberg’s camera captures three processes by which beaver have recently been able to re-enter creek systems in Utah, Oregon, and Washington to work their dam magic.
In September 2015, the Grand Canyon Trust sent this video to every District Ranger and Forest Supervisor in western U.S. national forests. If you know of a Forest Service employee who would benefit from watching the video, please request copies of the DVD from the Trust by emailing email@example.com so that you can give or send the video to that employee, with your personal note. In this way, you can assist with the return and support of beaver in your nearest national forest. The beaver will take it from there.