Colorado BeaverCorps Members join forces in Gunnison National Forest

BeaverCorps Members work w/ National Forest Foundation Staff

Colorado BeaverCorps members Paul Planer (RangeWorks), Alli Del Gizzi (Arable Earth), and Mark Beardsley (EcoMetrics) came together to work towards the restoration of a Stage-0 beaver wetland complex on Trail Creek in the Gunnison National Forest.

Beaver activity has been sporadic on this stream for the past century, and the riparian zone—which used to be a complex valley-wide aquatic wetland system—dried out when the stream degraded to a simple incised channel. Aquatic habitat was reduced to less than 20% of what it was naturally when beavers were present and active. Can we reverse this process to restore the wetland and aquatic habitat?

We built about 50 beaver dam analogs (BDAs) and other low-tech structures to raise water level and reactivate the remnant ponds, channels, and canals that past beavers left behind. These treatments had amazing initial results, but we know they won’t last forever without beavers. By making the habitat a lot more suitable for dispersing beavers, we are hopeful that neighboring beaver populations will expand to this site and take over maintenance for the long term.

This is the first phase of what we hope will be a large and ongoing partnership.  The initial phase was organized by Ashley Hom of the US Forest Service, sponsored by the National Forest Foundation, and funded by Coca-Cola.  Volunteers from all kinds of organizations helped out, as well as lots of motivated citizens.  Thank you!  We are already busy monitoring and planning for the next phase of treatments to make this project bigger and better.”

-Mark Beardsley, EcoMetrics Colorado