The market is hot and the water is cold.
Dreaming of that getaway lodge? The Port’s Upper Clear Creek Mitigation Site has everything a giant aquatic rodent could ever need.
A grove of delicious willows? Check.
Nonstop flowing water to dam? Check.
An endless supply of mud to push around? Check.
If you’re a beaver in the market for some new digs, check out these current listings.
The starter home
First-time builder. Last year’s kit (baby beaver!) is all grown up and has its own hip new pad to show for it.
Good, solid, family-friendly, as evidenced by a tiny kit swimming by during inspection. Easy access to nearby ongoing dam construction. Current residents are constantly remodeling though
Don’t let the skunk cabbage discourage you! This lodge was abandoned but can be made shiny and new again with a little elbow grease and some sharp incisors.
Stockpiled construction materials. Can also double as a food source. A real fixer-upper project for the ultimate (hungry) DIY-er.
The palatial estate
Private entrance (accessible by water only) and possible split level (the lodge is almost 6 feet tall – above the water!). Showing is by appointment only. Current residents are rather territorial. Previous encounters have included disgruntled tail slaps.
The North American Beaver (Castor canadensis) is one of the most controversial creatures in recent history. Prized for their pelts, they were hunted and trapped almost to extinction by the late-1800s. Now that the beaver population is slowly recovering, the rodents are often maligned for damaging infrastructure. From plugging culverts to damming irrigation canals to chopping down trees, one busy beaver can do quite a bit of damage. Beavers are also known as a keystone species. A keystone species is defined as an organism that has a disproportionately large effect on its environment relative to its abundance. In other words, it doesn’t take many beavers to make a big impact. A keystone species can also be considered the glue that holds an ecosystem together.
So that is why when a colony of beavers started making the Port’s Upper Clear Creek Mitigation Site their home, it was both great – and not so great – news. Salmon populations in Clear Creek have thrived since the colony’s arrival. Beavers create a calm, cool, off-channel habitat which is perfect for juvenile salmonid rearing and foraging. Beavers also create small, intricate channels adult salmon can use to bypass the dams to return to their spawning grounds. On the (tail) flip side, beavers alter hydrologic regimes and cut down vegetation. When a site (like Upper Clear Creek) has neighbors nearby who worry about flooding, a colony of beavers is not necessarily a welcome site. Also, Upper Clear Creek has vegetation performance standards required by regulatory agencies it has to meet. It can be difficult to meet those vegetation performance standards if the “busy as a beaver” cliché holds.
Beavers are called “nature’s engineers” for a reason. They change the habitat around them. Sometimes that change doesn’t meet our human expectations. But if the goal of habitat restoration is to restore natural processes, a beaver can be a hopeful sign.
Check out all of the Port’s habitat sites and learn about our habitat mitigation program here.