Watch a beaver release video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d08TnRRnlR0
In Southern Utah, 2012 is the year of the Beaver. Exciting things are happening that celebrate and highlight the importance of this keystone watershed engineer.
It’s been a dry, warm winter throughout much of southern Utah. High elevation snowpack is well below average, and in the lower elevations summer has all but arrived. Because it’s been such a mild winter, and following a relatively wet year in 2011, our wildlife is flourishing. In the case of beaver, that is great news for the State’s efforts to increase beaver populations on the national forests. Unfortunately it also means a few extra headaches for landowners and irrigators this year. However, where some see a nuisance, others see opportunity.
The Trust is actively partnering with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) and taking the opportunity to talk with land owners and managers and share information on best management practices that protect resources and property, while giving beaver a second chance to work their restoration magic in some impaired watersheds. In some cases, that means simply fencing trees to prevent felling, or installing devices to protect culverts or control pond size. In other cases, it means removing beaver altogether from certain areas.
In April, Grand Canyon Trust Wildlife Associate Jeremy Christensen and Boulder Community Alliance’s Sage Sorenson, at the request of UDWR’s Southern Region Biologists, were able to live trap 9 beaver in 5 days from the irrigation ditches near Panguitch in Garfield County. The beaver were treated to 5 days of pampering in quarantine to remove any aquatic hitchhikers like whirling disease, before being released into suitable sites on the Dixie National Forest where their dam building activities can again provide a host or restorative benefits to the watersheds. The Trust’s Utah Forest Program, with the help of our incredible Volunteer Program , will be actively tracking the progress of these and future transplant beaver, as well as continue assessing historic and potential habitat on the three southern Utah national forests.
Help the Trust and our many partners in southern Utah celebrate this useful, charismatic creature at the first ever Utah “Leave it to Beavers!” Festival (http://www.utahbeaversfestival.org/) September 21-22 at the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park outside Escalante, UT. This is the perfect time to visit southern Utah’s National Parks and Monuments, and the festival will be filled with fun, engaging activities and exhibits celebrating the Beaver! Utah’s chief hydrological engineer.