Communities Make Room for Natural Engineers

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Once valued as little more than pelts, beavers are back in vogue and rebuilding their reputation as habitat engineers.

It helps their cause that the dams they build as homes also create water quality-boosting wetlands and habitat for other species. In the process, the structures slow the flow of water and filter out sediment that would otherwise be on its way to the Chesapeake Bay.

And a new study out of the Northeast suggests the dams, which can alter the course of entire river systems, can also substantially reduce the amount of nitrogen in them. Read More

Beavers and their dams also bring new habitats to urban and suburban environments, creating the wetlands known to be key to several species’ survival. Griffin said more people are warming to the idea that a beaver can bring benefits to the neighborhood. Urban parks can be a great place for beavers to redefine the landscape, as they have at Bladensburg Waterfront Park along the District of Columbia’s stretch of the Anacostia River. Jorge Bogantes Montero, stewardship program specialist in natural resources for the Anacostia Watershed Society, said three beaver dams constructed in one stretch of the park demonstrate their ability to attract wildlife and clean the water even in the middle of the city.


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