Written by Marissa Eckman
In the heat of the late summer Johnson Creek Watershed Council gathered enthusiastic volunteers to track beaver activity in the watershed. In a two part training, volunteers learned about beaver ecology, the importance of collecting data on beaver activity, and survey and safety protocols. Volunteer surveyors along with youth from The Blueprint Foundation surveyed nine different stretches of the creek between Crystal Springs and 252nd Avenue in Gresham. Surveyors found 28 dams this year which is consistent with findings from previous years.
Our volunteers collect data on dam composition, dam length, and water level differences. Dams are typically made of wood, mud, and grass, but we’ve also found dams constructed with man made items such as fire extinguishers!
Collecting data on beaver activity is important for JCWC and our partners at Metro, City of Gresham, ODFW, Portland Parks and Recreation, and Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services. We use spatial information to determine where beavers are returning year after year to build dams and make lodges or see where they are disappearing from. This helps us make plans for streamside planting and for siting instream restoration projects to insure that we are working with beavers instead of against them. In areas where we want to encourage beaver activity we can put in yummy plants like willow and in areas where we want to deter beaver activity we can plant things like spirea.
Thank you so much to all the wonderful volunteers that joined us for this season of surveys! And thank you to all the eager beavers for providing habitat for other watershed critters <3 Stay tuned for more results from this year’s surveys!