Press Release: Beavers to be Relocated to Gifford Pinchot National Forest.. | Cascade Forest Conservancy

Press Release: Beavers to be Relocated to Gifford Pinchot National Forest..

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 6, 2018

CONTACTS: Shiloh Halsey, Conservation Science Director, Cascade Forest Conservancy, cell: 503-258-7774 Matt Little, Executive Director, Cascade Forest Conservancy, cell: 541-678-2322

Beavers to be Relocated to Gifford Pinchot National Forest for First Time in 80 Years Conservation group will use a keystone species to restore degraded waterways

Vancouver, WA – The Cascade Forest Conservancy (CFC) will relocate beavers to key locations within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in order to restore stream function, protect watershed health, and mitigate impacts of climate change.

Beaver populations were significantly reduced during the fur trade era in the early 1800s. Although beaver populations have partially recovered over the past two centuries, many headwater areas within the Cascade Mountains still lack beavers. Without enough beavers and beaver dams to hold water at higher elevations, stream flows become less stable, stream structure becomes more channelized, and stream-side habitats express lower diversity and reduced productivity.

“This project creates a win-win situation for private landowners, wildlife agencies, and our aquatic ecosystems, which are currently being stressed and altered by climate change,” said Matt Little, Executive Director of the CFC. “It is exciting to use natural engineers to gain resilience in the ecosystem.”

Through a generous grant from the Wildlife Conservation Society, CFC and the Cowlitz Indian Tribe will receive trapped nuisance beavers from private lands (that would be otherwise be exterminated) and relocate them to suitable locations in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The Cowlitz Indian Tribe is establishing a temporary holding facility that will house beavers until they are released, and both groups have surveyed over 50 potential relocation sites for suitability. In the best locations, volunteers have already started planting native tree species to establish food for the new arrivals.

Shiloh Halsey, Conservation Science Director for CFC, said, “Once beavers are relocated to suitable sites, we will continue to monitor the landscape to record changes in ecosystem form and function. We expect to see expansion of wetlands, water quality improvements, and increases in stream complexity, with larger and more abundant in-stream pools.”

The Heritage Program of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest recently discovered a map and details of translocation efforts conducted on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in the late 1930s, when it was still named the Columbia National Forest. During those efforts, 87 beavers were relocated onto the National Forest, but there is no solid evidence of any additional translocations occurring after 1938.

In recent years, many wildlife managers, Indian tribes, and environmental agencies in Washington State have already begun to restore beaver into headwater areas that had suitable habitat, but were without beavers. Successful relocation programs in Washington include the Methow Beaver Project and efforts by both the Tulalip Tribes and Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation. Return of beaver to those landscapes have all generated positive ecosystem effects in the local watersheds.

The Cascade Forest Conservancy protects and sustains forests, streams, wildlife, and communities in the heart of the Cascades through conservation, education and advocacy.