Source: CVDaily Feed

LOGAN – A recent large-scale Utah State University experiment tested whether stream restorations work, and it was done using a unique method.

Instead of bringing in heavy machinery to restore the ruined streams, the scientists used a less-expensive approach. Wooden posts were erected in the stream beds along Oregon’s John Day River Basin which encouraged beavers to build dams. USU professor Nicolaas Bouwes said it produced positive results. Streams were restored and fish populations returned.

Bouwes said there are many large areas with streams that need restoration. In a lot of cases, beavers could provide dramatic, inexpensive effects.

He said beavers are removed from streams because in a lot of places they are considered a nuisance. He believes it may be wiser to leave them where they are.

“There are ways to minimize that negative impact they have such as plugging culverts and chopping down ornamental trees,” Bouwes said. “So you can fence the tree, you can put these cages around culverts that keep them from plugging up. They also make pond levelers to prevent flooding when they build dams.”

Another reason beavers are removed is the belief they hurt fish populations.

“Beaver and trout and salmon can coexist,” Bouwes said. “They used to coexist at far greater densities than they do now. There are still a lot of people that believe those two are incompatible.”

The study, according to a USU press release, was the first to show that using beavers to restore streams can be an efficient method.

“There is a big message there with this paper that beavers are good for systems,” Bouwes said. ‘And they are still at lower populations than they were historically, so there is still room for a lot more beavers in a lot of other places.”