Beavers are considered pests when they chop down trees and dam waterways that are valuable to people . . . but one person’s scourge may be another’s savior.

Kent Woodruff and his crew returning beavers to a tributary of the Methow River.

Biologists have found that nuisance beavers can be removed from streams near roads and agriculture and relocated to where their work is welcome – places like Washington State’s Methow Valley, which has suffered from extreme drought.

Beavers released in the valley have built dams and created ponds that now serve as precious reservoirs – providing much-needed surface water and recharging depleted groundwater supplies.

Kent Woodruff

Kent Woodruff is a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Forest Service.

Woodruff: “We estimated that there’s probably about ten million gallons of water for each acre of pond surface area that the beavers provide.”

Since their dams force rivers to spread out across the floodplain, the beavers also help prevent flooding. They improve water quality, too, since wetlands help filter out pollutants.

”Beavers Click To Tweet

So as drought-stressed areas across the country realize the benefits that busy beavers can provide, Woodruff is keeping busy, too . . . sharing his strategy with others for making furry foes into friends.

Reporting credit: Evan Lowenstein/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photos: Courtesy of Kent Woodruff (Credit: Sarah Koenigsberg).

More Resources
Beavers may be part of answer to climate change
Methow beaver project
The beaver whisperer
Working with beavers to restore watersheds

Diana Madson

Diana Madson contributed regularly to Yale Climate Connections from 2014 to 2021. She enjoys exploring U.S.-based stories about unexpected and innovative solutions to climate change. In addition to her...