Watershed Moment

Watershed Moment
Posted on May 21, 2013 | Heidi Perryman | Written on May 21, 2013
Letter type:


Metro News

Author's Note:

Author's Note:

Donna DuBreuil's letter about wildlife policy in Ottawa inspired me to write this Open letter.

Author's Video Note:

Dear Ottawa residents,

Preserving healthy streams with clean water has become a focus of greater concern as periods of drought and flooding seem to be the new normal. Modern society should be very interested in those volunteers who work tirelessly to save that water, filtering it while they reduce sediment and recharge the aquifer.

Especially if those volunteers work for free and keep trained engineers onsite 24/7 to make repairs.

Meet the beaver! His damming instinct creates countless benefits for fish, birds and wildlife. On the pacific coast we are just starting to learn about their essential role benefiting our dwindling salmon population. Even their chewing of trees stimulates natural re-growth, meaning that felled stumps grow back bushy and more dense to create ideal nesting habitat for migratory and songbirds, whose populations go up near beaver activity.

Do beavers cause problems for humans? Dam right they do. Fortunately, most of us are smarter than most of them. For very little cost, we can use flow devices to control pond height and trapezoidal fencing to protect culverts. We can wrap the trees we want to protect with wire and we can realize that living with beaver is actually an investment in our own survival and the biodiversity of our planet. Do these tools really work? Yes. I should know, my own city installed a flow device to control pond height 6 years ago instead of trapping. Now, because of our safely-controlled beaver-created wetlands, we regularly see otter, heron, steelhead, woodduck and even mink in our tiny urban stream!

My city holds a yearly beaver festival to teach other communities how and why to get along with these important animals. This year on CBC’s the Nature of things, Jari Osborne’s powerful documentary told the story well, but she barely had time to scratch the surface of why we should care about these hard-working watershed stewards.

Any city smarter than a beaver can keep a beaver – and Canada’s Capital should understand better than most why they should bother.

Heidi Perryman, Ph.D.
Worth A Dam
Martinez CA USA

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