Last month GreenVest Project Manager, Laura Kelm, presented at BeaverCon, a conference about beaver conflict management and watershed restoration. This year’s theme was “Building Climate Resilience: A Nature-Based Approach” which closely reflects GreenVest’s own values. Laura presented with project partner Biohabitat’s Senior Ecologist, Joe Berg, about the beaver at the Bacon Ridge Branch Stream Restoration Project.
The presentation focused on how the beaver on-site facilitated the conversion of a baseflow stream channel restoration into a 0-stage channel. Restoration construction completed in Spring 2020, and beaver on-site quickly got to work making the project their own by (re)creating dams along various stream reaches. On one particular tributary, the beaver ‘co-engineered’ an upstream wood structure, building upon it by about 4 feet vertically and 100 feet horizontally. This ‘improvement’ caused greater than anticipated backwatering and more frequent overbank flows into the floodplain, which in turn flow into a small side channel. The resultant upstream pool and diversion of a portion of the baseflow from the restored stream alignment into the center of the stream valley is a Stage 0 flow. This flow runs through the wood-controlled stream valley without causing adverse impact to the stream valley nor downstream restored reaches.
While the project was designed to mimic the effects of beaver dams—using all-wood structures to improve bedform diversity, in-stream habitat, and floodplain connection—the presence of actual beaver has created novel adaptive management challenges as well as additional water quality and habitat benefits. The project team continues to monitor conditions and discuss adaptive management elements to allow the site to adapt to its new residents. Thank you to our project partners, Biohabitats, Environmental Quality Resources, Coastal Resources, and the local beaver population for supporting this project!