Awarded to the BC Conservation Foundation to collect the information needed to begin beaver restoration in the Kootenays.

PROPONENT: BC Conservation Foundation (BCCF)

DESCRIPTION: In 2020, a habitat assessment and population inventory of beavers along the Duncan and Lardeau Floodplains was conducted by BCCF and North Kootenay Consulting Services.  The inventory was initiated to address what appeared to be a major decline in beaver populations along both rivers over the previous  4-5 years,  by first formally documenting the extent of the decline (by comparison to an inventory in 2010) and second by designing measures and actions to mitigate some of the apparent threats and deficiencies. Preliminary results indicate beavers are still present along both rivers but that they are at low densities in comparison to 2010 and more patchily distributed.  

Beavers are known throughout North America to be ‘wetland engineers’ and a keystone species that creates and maintains critical habitat for many other species (Cunningham et al., 2006; Nummi & Poysa, 1997). They are increasingly being hailed as one of the most cost effective and sustainable solutions for restoring biological diversity, mitigating climate change and inspiring ecological resilience (Castro et al, 2017).

OBJECTIVE: The basic objectives of the beaver project in 2021 and beyond are to encourage a healthy population of beavers to re-establish along both the Lardeau and lower Duncan Rivers and to encourage in any way possible the success (durability) of their wetland-creation “works”; specifically: damming, inundation, dredging and canalling – with the expectation that after certain small-scale, low-tech actions are undertaken the beavers and the improved habitat conditions will become self-sustaining within a short period of time.

The key measure of success along both rivers will be the re-occupation of the enhanced sites by beavers (where presently unoccupied) and increased area occupied by beaver ‘works’  such a canals, dams and and ponds.

PHOTOS: Brenda Herbison

This short video provides an excellent overview of the project.

Brenda Herbison with the BC Conservation Foundation presented on this project as part of the 2020 KCP Virtual Spring Tour held on June 22, 2020 featuring five projects that receive funding from the Kootenays’ two Local Conservation Funds.