On the very first hot day of the year, 30 Portland Community College biology students put on their waders and started ducking under bushes, finding pathways through mud and wading through shallow water in search of beaver activity and dams. These biology students were learning first hand the importance of this keystone species. Beavers create incredible habitat in wetlands. When beavers are present, amphibians, birds and insects thrive. Salamanders live under the fallen logs and rotting stumps, frogs love the slow moving water and insects and birds enjoy the snags. Finding signs of beaver activity is a great indicator for the health of our wetlands.After nearly two hours, several beaver dams were found and lots of signs of beaver activity. This pilot program was officially kicked-off.
The intention is to grow this program into a community science initiative to track beaver activity and dams over the course of years in several different wetlands. In the future, the monitoring will take place in later spring or early summer when juvenile beaver are leaving their parents lodges and are building new dams. But this year, these intrepid students piloting this program spent three days and 6 hours collecting data that will start to inform how restoration efforts in our wetlands are impacting beaver activity and what the correlation is between beaver activity and other wildlife in the wetland.