It is International beaver day and at the Greenway Foundation we are always excited to celebrate these environmental engineers! Our environmental education program’s mascot is even a beaver – and if you haven’t already met Chomper’s – he is a pretty cool beaver that does important things for wetland ecosystems like the South Platte River! To honor Beavers on this national holiday, here is some info on why beavers are so crucial to maintaining wetland ecosystem health throughout the South Platte River and why it is important they are protected! While beavers play a lot of important roles in ecosystems, one of the most important is that they are engineers!
Beavers are one of the things we talk a lot about in our SPREE programs, and they are awesome because they are ecosystem engineers, in that they significantly alter their environments and greater landscapes, which greatly impacts other species who rely on quality wetlands environments for survival.
and beaver lodges, so beavers are extremely important for the productivity and quality of wetland ecosystems. By reshaping their physical environment, beavers impact resource availability within ecosystems for other species, making them a keystone species. Depending on where beavers decide to build their dams/lodges will determine and define the greater wetland ecosystem. This is because these structures can change the flow of available nutrients for other species, which can have both positive and negative ecological impacts, but overall the presence of beavers is a happy sign for wetlands!
However, like anything with nature, it is all a balancing act. While beavers are incredibly important animals, this does not mean they don’t cause conflict when it comes to humans. Furthermore, beavers being a Keystone species means that deviations in beaver populations have cascading ecological impacts on other species within that wetland ecosystem. In Colorado currently, Beaver populations are very abundant and starting to have adverse effects on the relationship between urban settings and beaver ecological function.
In dealing with the relationship between humans and beavers, it is important to strive for a symbiotic relationship that utilizes adaptive and proactive approaches to dealing with beaver urban destruction. Approaches like putting up barriers, using sand paint, or other natural repellents to make it so unideal situations can be avoided between beavers and humans is an approach I know Chompers would appreciate!. This national beaver day be sure to take a moment to appreciate these wonderful creatures, and keep your eyes peeled in the parks along the South Platte River for Chompers and his other fun friends!
Also don’t forget the month of April is all about giving SPREE! Help us educate more Denver Kids about cool creatures like beavers by donating here or look out for opportunities to volunteer at one of our upcoming events!