Let's Help Beaver Help Us Fight Back Against Climate Change

Solutions abound – we just need the courage, enthusiasm, and political will to implement change

Problem: Our climate-driven water crisis and megafires

In 2020, Oregon communities endured more wildfire than any year in recent memory. And in 2021, Oregon’s unprecedented heat waves and prolonged drought have resulted in failed crops, more wildfires, and loss of property, wildlife, livestock, and human life. The bad news is, this is just the beginning. Climate change will continue to severely alter precipitation and temperature patterns in the western U.S.

During Oregon’s 2021 legislative session, there were some gains in climate and social policies. Wildfire relief bills were passed to provide resources for agencies and communities to better adapt to more future fire events. But impacts to communities, and the fight for future water security continues.

Our state animal, university mascot, and ecological engineer extraordinaire is forced to sit on the sidelines during these challenging times, since it is valued by some state officials, and less than 170 people in the state, as merely a species to trap and shoot for recreation.

Now is the time to change all of that.  If your response is “I’m ready to do something positive, what’s my next step?” – read on. 

Solution: Restore Oregon’s waterways and wetlands ASAP

Whether you live in an urban or rural area, restoring beaver's role on public lands benefits us all via the water-rich, carbon storing habitat they create and maintain.  As wetlands, ponds, rising water tables and riparian vegetation increase, so does Oregon’s water security, its drought-preparedness, and its fish and wildlife habitat and connectivity.  As habitat expands, so does the number of natural firebreaks - these zones of lush green and water serve as safety zones for wildlife and livestock during fire, and habitat post-fire. And they create conditions that improve salmon rearing habitat and quality throughout their range, and temporarily store water to then feed the streams during drought.  

Given the scale of degradation within streams and wetlands and throughout the West, we need all partners mobilized to restore these systems. Beaver are our greatest ally! But for this ecosystem engineer to successfully provide resilience against drought & wildfire, they must be able to safely build and maintain their natural infrastructure (dams!) while expanding their numbers and distributions across the state. So, let’s get them protected! 

We must give beaver protection from hunting and trapping under the state furbearer regulations on Oregon’s public lands, and encourage funds to be made available to provide incentives to private landowners to work with beavers to store water, sub-irrigate fields and create wetlands. This possibility is within reach if Oregon closes these public lands to recreational beaver trapping and hunting, before the next beaver trapping and hunting season starts on November 15.  This would allow beaver to begin expanding the abundance of wetlands, ponds, and complex riparian areas, making it an effective climate change response strategy. 

Take Action for Oregon’s future

Your elected officials (state and federal) need to hear from you!  Let’s raise awareness of what beaver can and must do, and the protections they need. Let’s remind our politicians that all tools must be available when tackling the climate crisis. Here’s how you can help be a force for change: 

  1. Find an article in your local newspaper or other news source about an issue that would be helped by having abundant beaver on public lands building and maintaining beaver dams and habitat.  The FAQs page has information about where and how beaver can help.

  2. Make 8 copies of the title page of your article. Write the publication's name and date on it if missing.

  3. Take 8 envelopes, add your return address, a stamp, and address the envelopes to the following:  1) Governor Kate Brown, 2) ODFW Deputy Director Shannon Hurn, 3) Senator Wyden, 4) Senator Merkley, 5) your Federal Representative, 6 and 7) your State Legislators, and 8) Mr. John Kerry, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate. Here are your elected officials’ mailing addresses 

  4. Write a letter to Governor Brown asking for the following closure, including why it is important. Try to limit to one page. CC the remaining 7 individuals on your letter. The CC's tell Kate Brown who else will see this letter. (Letter format example)

Close beaver trapping/hunting on Oregon’s federal and state-managed public lands prior to the November 15 start of the trapping/hunting season as a climate change, drought and wildfire and salmon recovery strategy. 

  1. For each of the 7 other folks, copy a short note to each official (text here) and place each text above your Kate Brown letter, explaining why the official is getting this letter. No need to modify. (Letter format example)

  2. Put letters and articles in the appropriate envelopes and mail. Use this link to let us know who you wrote to, and the article you included. 

PLEASE GET YOUR LETTERS AND ARTICLES OUT TO THESE OFFICIALS BY OCTOBER 25th IF POSSIBLE. This is 20 days before the November beaver trapping/hunting season begins and allows time for an emergency moratorium to be put in place.

 You did it! Thank you for your time and dedication to Oregon’s water and climate future. 

 

How can I stay informed about this issue?

  1. Attend the next ODFW Beaver Management Work Group meeting: ODFW Beaver group meeting page
  2. Subscribe to wildlife management updates and announcements from ODFW: ODFW subscription page
  3. Look for emails from Bark: Bark Alert sign-up page
     

Short videos about the benefits of beaver and their contributions