Talk on Watersheds and Beaver

January 23, 2021 - 10:00 AM
Cape Perpetua Collaborative

Beaver dam.\Photo courtesy of MidCoast Watersheds Council.

As part of its Winter Speaker Series, the Cape Perpetua Collaborative hosts an online talk by Kami Ellingson, Watershed Program Manager for the Siuslaw National Forest, at 10 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 23.  The event is free and open to all

Ellingson will discuss how valley bottom streams, rivers and wetlands have been altered across North America since European settlement, and how looking back at the way these systems functioned in the past provides information about how they function resiliently when intact. Splash damming, log drives and mill pond creation in combination with beaver removal have resulted in a reduction in the amount of water stored across the landscape during both times of flooding and times of drought.

Prior to 1950 there were millions of beavers across the United States, but trapping counts confirm that most of these millions were removed during European settlement. Based on reports from early explorers, complex wetlands were prevalent across and spanning valley bottoms prior to European settlement. These wetland complexes represented intact natural systems with beaver present, building and maintaining dams. Removing beavers resulted in the unraveling of these wetlands. Without the prevalence of beavers, dams fail. This causes the large wetland complexes to drain, and water levels to drop, carrying away large amounts of water and sediments that would have otherwise been captured and accumulated behind beaver dams year after year. Failed dams also cause stream velocities to increase, resulting in more erosion.

Kami Ellingson is a hydrologist with over 20 years of field experience, ranging from landslide studies following the 1996 storm event in western Oregon, to road, stream and estuary restoration.  She has led the restoration of the Salmon River estuary since 2007, and has been recognized nationally and internationally for the success of physical restoration and collaborative partnerships.  Kami received her Master’s in Forest Engineering and Hydrology from Oregon State University.

To register for this talk, go here.