For Immediate Release: Cowlitz Indian Tribe secures Tribal Wildlife Grant to Inventory Beaver Habitat
The Cowlitz Indian Tribe intends to inventory existing beaver habitat in Southwest Washington on private and public timber lands. The footprint of the project is within the aboriginal lands of the Tribe. The project will include field surveys which will ground truth modeled beaver habitat sites, evaluate the habitat on the ground, quantify the quality of that habitat, and map the resulting classification of the habitat.
Beavers are a keystone species; their presence in nature greatly affects watershed function and all the other wildlife species around them. Releasing beaver on the landscape has great potential for ecological improvement. Construction of dams by beaver, and associated ponds, significantly improves habitat for various aquatic and wetland dependent species. Beaver dams help to raise the surrounding water table, reduce water temperature, and help maintain flows in dry periods during the year. Fish species, especially salmon and trout, benefit when beavers establish dams. There are a host of other organisms (such as the threatened Oregon spotted frog) that rely on wetland and slow water habitat that results from beaver dams for different stages of their life cycle.
Beavers have historically played a significant role in maintaining the health of watersheds in the Pacific Northwest and act as key agents in the functioning of riparian ecology. The live trapping and relocating of nuisance beavers has long been recognized as a beneficial wildlife management practice and has been successfully utilized to restore and maintain stream ecosystems.
Chairman Harju states “Beaver are important to the Cowlitz peoples. Our culture and members depend upon a healthy ecosystem. Beaver are a key species that enable the ecosystem to function properly. This project will lay foundational work for strategic beaver relocation to suitable habitat within the aboriginal lands of the Tribe.”