Forest thinning: What about the beavers?
April 14, 2006
Many of the dead and toppled trees along Alder Creek were not killed by bark beetles, but died from a group of beavers that gnaw the aspens and lodgepole pines along the water’s edge.
There is some dispute about whether the furry, tree-gnawing animals are native to the area or if they were introduced later from other regions of the state.
“Based on research the group has done, the Truckee Donner Historical Society believes the Truckee River beavers did not historically occupy the area prior to the 1940s, and have since caused dramatic changes to the water table, thereby impacting Lodgepole Pine, aspens, brook trout,” read a letter the historical society wrote to the U.S. Forest Service regarding the Alder Creek thinning project. “The only way to restore the aspen stands to their historical pre-1980 condition is to remove the beaver population and maintain a zero population.”
Although the Forest Service agrees that the beavers have affected apsen growth along the creek, they say there is some controversy over whether the animals are native to the area.
Tahoe Donner Forester Bill Houdyschell said that the beavers have caused pooling and minor flooding around the subdivision. But the property owners association must demonstrate actual property damage to get a depredation permit from the California Department of Fish and Game.
While some homeowners complain, others enjoy the beavers said Houdyschell.
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“People either like them or they don’t,” he said.
Houdyschell said tearing down the beaver dams to keep the creek from pooling is little help since the industrious animals quickly rebuild the barrier.
“We’ve got some ponds and some flooding,” he said.
Any decision on controlling the beaver population must be made by Fish and Game, not the Forest Service.