Beavers make things complex; that is one of their essential characteristics. They slow water down, creating deeper cooler pools, resuscitate our ground water, retain sediment and purify water. Beavers are masters at changing a landscape. Their work is an incredible asset to our changing climate, but they come with conflicts for our built community. It may surprise many Oregonians that beaver are not protected. In fact every year hundreds of beavers are killed and removed from our waterways. The Wetlands Conservancy is working with local landowners, surface water management agencies, students, community groups and artists to learn more about beaver and start to educate the community about the role that beaver can play in our water systems.
The American Beaver may be the most iconic species in Oregon. Oregon’s early economy was built on the trade of beaver pelts. During the 1800s, demand for pelts was so high that fur trappers virtually eliminated the species from many landscapes through unregulated trapping. However, over time with changes in management and trapping regulations, beaver have re-established in many areas throughout their historic range. In 1969, the Oregon legislature recognized the American beaver by designating it as Oregon’s official State animal. The beaver is depicted on the Oregon State flag, and is the mascot of Oregon State University. Oregon is often referred to as the “Beaver State”.