Preserving Keystone Species with the Beaver Habitat Restoration Project

Oregon beaver, a keystone species in our ecosystem. Photo courtesy of Bark

The Beaver Habitat Restoration Project is working to bring beavers back to Mt. Hood National Forest and surrounding federally owned lands. Beavers are a keystone species – critical to preserving local ecosystems – building dams and creating wetlands upon which many other species depend. The Mapping Action Collective partnered with Bark, Cascadia Wild, and the U.S. Forest Service to identify & prioritize existing and potential habitat in Mt. Hood National Forest that could support the reintroduction of beaver.

Mapping Action Collective’s role in this project is to identify areas within Mt. Hood National Forest that have the best potential for beaver activity using GIS spatial analysis. The workflow followed the Beaver Restoration Assessment Tool (BRAT) which assesses landscape for restoration purposes. The methods in this study can be used to evaluate riparian and wetland habitat restoration within Mt. Hood National Forest. We used publicly available data and conducted the analysis in a reproducible manner. The analysis is paired with ground-truthing by Bark volunteers, who conduct beaver habitat surveys in Mt. Hood National Forest, to identify the components of high-quality beaver habitat and to locate the areas that need beavers the most. Bark’s field work will provide the Forest Service with information they need to restore beaver populations in Mt. Hood National Forest.

Volunteers helping to restore beaver habitat. Photo courtesy of Bark.

According to environmental advocates at Bark, current research predicts that climate change will severely alter precipitation and temperature patterns in the Pacific Northwest by mid-century, resulting in both more flood events and droughts. By working proactively to reintroduce keystone species like beavers and restore the natural processes of the forest ecosystem, we can mitigate the local impacts of climate change on Mt. Hood’s watersheds.

For more information about this project, or to volunteer with Bark:

https://www.bark-out.org/project/beaver-habitat-restoration-project

https://www.bark-out.org/content/beaver-habitat-survey-and-restoration

 

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