How Scientists Are Using Beavers to Help Fight Climate Change

Researchers in California and Utah have found that dams made by beavers can help create drought- and fire-resistant landscapes. With nearly half of the country suffering from drought, it’s time to take a look at these magnificent creatures and how North America’s largest rodent could help us.

Source: CBS Mornings / Youtube

According to research by Professor Emily Fairfax of California State University, the dams that beavers build with sticks and mud help prevent precipitation and snowmelt from flowing from rivers into the oceans. Dams also help prevent natural fires and can create a reservoir that can store water for years. Dams slowly release water into the ground, creating a fire and drought resistant landscape.

“The beavers move in here and slow down the water,” Fairfax told CBS News. “It goes to refill the groundwater and that’s what we’re pumping for irrigation. This is what we use for our food. That’s what we use for our lawns ”.

“Much of the water in California does not come from melting snow. It comes from groundwater and these beavers are charging it for us, ”Fairfax said. “They are depositing water in the bank which we take out later.”

Unfortunately, many people don’t realize how useful these rodents are. This news comes just weeks after a South Carolina county encouraged citizens to kill beavers and bring their front legs for compensation.

Scientists at Utah State University have taken the beavers from places where they are considered “parasites” and brought them back to the laboratory, where they are weighed, evaluated and implanted with chips for monitoring and research purposes. The beavers are then taken to an area prone to drought and fires in the hopes that they will establish colonies in these areas.

Researchers are building starter dams which are also called beaver dam analogs. These will help the beavers gain an advantage in the area. Over 1,000 analog dams have already been completed and they hope to build many more.

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