In many parts of North America streams are badly incised due to erosion. As the erosion drops the stream channel deeper and deeper into the ground water table drops also. Once the water table drops too low for the roots of nearby plants to reach, the lush native vegetation dies off resulting in a barren, arid landscape with a loss of biodiversity. A once vibrant area can become a desolate dust bowl all due to stream incision.

It is well known that beaver dams heal the damage of stream incision. Unfortunately some streams are so badly incised that they are inhospitable to beaver and other wildlife. In recent years though, an innovative stream restoration technique is changing this dynamic. Manmade Beaver Dam Analogs (BDA) have been studied and proven to combat stream incision by promoting sediment deposition. The sediment deposition process has been surprisingly quick with corresponding elevations of the water table.

As the streambed rises due to sediment deposition, so does the groundwater. Native plants and wildlife begin to return as a stream recovers. Once the streambed has risen to the point where it is hydrologically reconnected to the floodplain and the native vegetation has returned, beavers will often relocate to the stream. They will then build their own dams which create the wetlands that attract all sorts of species, biodiversity again flourishes, and the stream restoration process is successfully completed.

Beaver Dam Analogs

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