What's Happening at MSRF?

The Methow Beaver Project

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Beaver dams and the wetland "sponges" they create allow the watershed to retain water for longer, improving late-season flows. They also increase riparian habitat, reduce stream temperatures, restore stream complexity, and capture stream sediment. These effects support the Spring Chinook, Steelhead, Cutthroat Trout, and Bull Trout that spawn in the Methow watershed, and benefit many other species as well.

A major component of the Methow Beaver Project is educating the public about the benefits of beavers and beaver dams. We meet with landowners impacted by beaver activity and look for ways to solve their problems without removing the beavers. When this isn't possible, we live-trap and move the unwanted beavers to our holding facility at the USFWS National Fish Hatchery. Here they are evaluated, grouped together with other beavers, and then released, usually into river tributaries.

Releasing a tagged beaver

A tagged beaver is released into a tributary of the Methow River in 2014

As we gain understanding of the ecological impacts of climate change, we see that water storage is essential to the long-term health of the Methow watershed. Earlier snow melts and precipitation that falls as rain instead of snow will make for drier summers, stressing fish populations as well as local irrigators. The restoration of beaver populations is a way for us to ensure the future of our salmon recovery efforts and of the local community.

Our partners on this project include the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Methow Conservancy, US Fish and Wildlife, US Forest Service, US Bureau of Reclamation, Washington Department of Ecology, the Yakama Nation, the Colville Confederated Tribes, the Upper Columbia Salmon Recovery Funding Board, the NFWF Salmon Community Fund, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Methow Watershed Council, the Pacific Biodiversity Institute, Ecotrust, the Douglas County PUD, the Grant County PUD, the National Forest Foundation, Seattle City Light, the Washington Department of Natural Resources, Woodsmith Watershed Consulting, and 100+ community volunteers.

For more information on this project, contact Kent Woodruff at (509) 846-3304.


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