Experts Say Beavers Could Help Save California from Climate Change

A state agency says the rodent dams have the potential to increase water storage and serve as natural firebreaks

As California’s temperatures reach unbearable new heights each year, the state has been scrambling to tackle drought, record heat waves, wildfires, and recently, power grid outages. While residents of the Golden State struggle to evade urban meltdown, one agency is placing its faith in the paws, and teeth, of the humble beaver to combat climate change, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The woodcutting mammals are said to be miniature engineers, with researchers touting their dams’ ability to increase water storage and to act as natural firebreaks.

This coincides with a job posting by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for a beaver restoration unit. Whomever the lucky senior environmental scientist is will specialize in developing methods for building artificial dams and “nature-based restoration solutions involving beavers.”

Additionally, the scientist will aid in updating state policies regarding beavers, which have been deemed pesky rodents that cause farmland flooding with their incessant diligence.

The current state of the state, with blazes tearing through forests and bodies of water seemingly vanishing into thin air, has led experts to the conclusion that, indeed, California might have been a little too hard on the Beav. In fact, DFW is willing to put at least $3 million on the table over the next two years to fund five jobs dedicated to a restoration program for the North American beaver.

“Beaver dams improve water quality and control water downstream, repair eroded channels, reconnect streams to their floodplains, and the ponds and flooded areas create habitat for many plants and animals,” DFW wrote in its May proposal. “It might be odd, but beavers are an untapped, creative climate-solving hero that helps prevent the loss of biodiversity facing California.”

Emily Fairfax, study co-author and assistant professor of environmental science and resource management at Cal State Channel Islands, broke down the difference between the two corridors shown in a drone video. One was left scarred by a recent Northern California wildfire, and the other remained a lush wetland, thanks to beaver damming.

“The differences in burn severity, air temperature, humidity, and soil moisture between the beaver complex and the adjacent landscape were huge,” Fairfax told the Times.

“It feels like the fires and drought have really pushed the issue,” she continued. “Now we see that people are willing to look at beavers. Because the state has spent so much funding on wildfire prevention measures and seen little results. Now they’re asking, ‘What haven’t we tried?’”

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