Beaver Management in Sonoma, CA!

DSC_6797Many thanks to Sue Smith for being an early adopter! This was my first beaver management device installed in California. Kate Lundquist of OAEC’s Water Institute coordinated, Jim Coleman of OAEC shot all the photos, and I did most of the build and install. Sue’s a dream client—very clear about what she wanted, super helpful and glad to lend a hand. Plus she’s got a friendly dog and some longhorn cattle who watched us coolly from afar. The install went smoothly, although I could see it was killing Sue not to take the fencing pliers away and show me how a real rancher does it…

Now it’s just a matter of waiting for the rain. This is no trivial matter, given the “driest year on record” status of the escalating drought. Which brings up the delicate question of the ever-dwindling Sierra snow pack. What do we imagine will happen when what little snow we usually get turns to rain? My guess is we’ll get epic flooding early, leaving California parched in the dry season because there’s no long melt cycle feeding the rivers. My suggestions are simple:

  1. Get beavers as high up in the Sierras as we can to trap all that water, and do it just as soon as we can.
  2. Quit shooting our solutions! Let’s employ non-lethal management methods so beaver can do what they’re good at: controlling flooding and sequestering water.

Update 2/8/14

After the driest year on record, we’re now setting records in the other direction, but only locally. With 6.5″ of rain falling in 24 hours, parts of Sonoma County are getting the 4th wettest day in 20 years. Right now, the storm is still dumping, and another 3 inches and change have fallen in the last 10 hours. This is making the case better than anything I could make up. Put simply: we need more beavers to help manage both droughts and flooding. And if we can’t bring in beavers, we need to BE beavers. Note that this lifesaving Pineapple Express has done Southern California (the breadbasket, etc.) no good at all.