At 1st Midwest Beaver Summit, role of the hefty rodents praised in wetland restoration, climate change fight
By Nara Schoenberg in the Chicago Tribune
As the nation faces a future of increasing flooding, drought and wildfires, millions of 60-pound rodents stand by, ready to assist.
Beavers can transform parched fields into verdant wetlands and widen rivers and streams in ways that not only slow surging floodwater, but store it for times of drought.
Still not impressed? In 2020, three raging wildfires in Colorado — including one with walls of flame 70 feet high — effectively bowed to the flat-tailed dam-builders, according to Emily Fairfax, an assistant professor of physical geography at the University of Minnesota at Twin Cities.
The fast-moving “megafires” left the water-saturated areas around beaver-occupied rivers largely unharmed, while beaver-free river banks suffered extensive damage.
“We desperately need to build more climate-resilient landscapes. We need to engineer something. We need to figure out a better solution,” Fairfax said. “And what I want to ask everyone to consider, is, what about nature’s engineers?”
And yes, she said, she was referring to the beaver.