In 2014, the Scott River Watershed Council (SRWC) constructed California’s first beaver dam analogues (BDAs), within the Scott River watershed. BDAs are human made structures that mimic natural beaver dams in appearance, construction and function. Beavers are known to be ecosystem engineers and their dams store water and create habitat for all river dependent species including the endangered coho salmon. The goals of the BDA project are to address critical groundwater and in-stream flow needs which are a pressing concern for California, given anticipated climate change impacts. Groundwater recharge is essential to meet the agricultural needs of a growing population while supporting in-stream flows for the ecosystem, and BDAs are showing the possibility of having a significant positive impact on these dual needs.
Innovative projects inherently generate regulatory scrutiny and impose an obligation to conduct rigorous scientific analysis, therefore the need to monitor the beneficial and/or potential adverse impacts is an essential part of the Scott River's BDA’s overall success. Answering the regulatory questions regarding the BDAs with sufficient scientific vigor will allow the future use of this type of restoration to be used across the landscape.
The SRWC, with funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), along with assistance from the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board. and Siskiyou RCD (SRCD), have performed extensive monitoring of the BDAs. A suite of parameters including; water quality of temperature, dissolved oxygen levels, groundwater recharge effects, geomorphic change, water surface elevation, fish passage, fish utilization, habitat volume and shelter, and riparian response have been monitored since the first BDAs were constructed in the summer of 2014.
One of the primary BDA project goals is to provide necessary and critical habitat for coho salmon. Scott River supports a core, functionally independent population of SONCC coho within the interior Klamath River diversity stratum. The Scott River population is at a moderate extinction risk and is likely above depensation threshold, so building critical over-wintering and over-summering by building BDAs will likely help restore the coho population in the Scott. For the past several years there has been a coordinated effort amongst the restoration organizations and agencies to better understand the migration patterns, rearing needs, and habitat utilization requirements by juvenile endangered coho salmon within the Klamath basin.
Site selection is determined through
in-depth topographic surveys.
PAWS are constructed using a hydrolic post pounder. Locally sourced Doug fir post are pounded 4-6 feet below grade.
Locally sourced willow branches are woven through the post. The willow weave traps leafs and dibris to create a seal.
Klamath Bird Observatory
For the past several years, the Scott River Watershed Council have been working on a project using Beaver Dam Analogues (BDAs) to evaluate the response to groundwater retention and recharge along with changes in the complexity of wildlife habitat and benefit. Our partners at Klamath Bird Observatory (KBO) will use birds as monitoring tools to assess the effects of riparian restoration efforts, as birds are considered excellent indicators of ecological function and habitat quality for terrestrial wildlife. Biologists from Klamath Bird Observatory will monitor the impacts of BDAs on bird abundance and diversity to help evaluate their conservation effectiveness.
Mid-French Restoration Project
The Mid-French restoration project is a California Department of Fish and Wildlife funded project, initiated by landowners, to develop a detailed restoration plan for a reach of French Creek. French Creek is a critical Coho spawning and rearing tributary of the Scott River. While French Creek is currently a highly productive habitat for coho, chinook salmon, and steelhead trout, there is the potential for significant improvement in spawning and rearing conditions for these species with restoration efforts. The design phase of the project will be completed in 2015, with funding being sought for implementation 2016.
Even though there are many benefits to beaver activities, sometimes there are also some nuisances. Infamous for tree removal and damming, these activities are not always wanted in certain areas or appreciated by landowners. Historically, depredation permits have been issued as a remedy to such problems. However, there are solutions and methods to help discourage unwanted or undesired beaver activity. The Scott River Watershed Council is willing and able to help landowners with problems that might arise when coexisting with beavers. If you are having problems with beaver on your property, or for more information please send us an email or call Charnna Gilmore at 530-598-2733
Click on the following links for great information regarding beavers, their benefits, their management and how we can live in harmony with this keystone species: