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Invite the beavers to come back home

Our forest correspondent

Maybe there should be a dam —or several dams —on the Chehalis River. It’s just that these dams should not be built by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Instead, we can turn to nature’s most industrious and inventive dam-builder—the beaver. Beaver are truly remarkable —their dams can very quickly transform parched and degraded watersheds into lush, wet meadows that act as sponges by holding water, reducing flood velocity, trapping sediment, raising the water table, keeping the water cool, and releasing it slowly throughout the year when and where it is needed most.

The Beaver Believers is an award-winning feature documentary telling the story of an unlikely cadre of activists who are working to restore the North American Beaver to the watersheds of the American West.

The Beaver Believers encourage us to embrace a new paradigm for managing our western lands, one that seeks to partner with the natural world rather than overpower it. As a keystone species, beaver enrich their ecosystems, creating the biodiversity, complexity, and resiliency our watersheds need to absorb the impacts of climate change.

The film was shot in eight western states, Mexico, and Canada, through desert drought, raging wildfires, forceful floods, and wetland tranquility. It can change the way we think about climate change —and change what we do to curb flooding without creating more unintended consequences.

Read more about the film and the work of the Beaver Believers

Thanks to Sara Page for these insights.

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