Monitoring Important Aspects of Beaver and Wetland Restoration: A Case Study

Benjamin Jackson1* and Mark Beardsley2

1 EcoMetrics and Creighton University, Omaha, NE
2 EcoMetrics, Buena Vista, CO

Wetlands and aquatic ecosystems are becoming increasingly valued for their roles in supporting biodiversity, wildfire and drought resilience, climate resilience, water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and myriad ecosystem services. Process-based restoration of degraded beaver wetland is becoming an accepted strategy for restoring watershed health in Colorado and across the western states. At the same time, concerns are being raised about the effects of beaver and wetland restoration on water supply administration. Objective and repeatable scientific data on the effects of beaver wetland restoration projects is needed to better understand the nature and magnitude of both benefits and potential implications of this emerging restoration approach, but exactly what data are needed and how to get them is a current topic of discussion.

We present monitoring studies that were employed on one beaver restoration project in Park County, Colorado, briefly explaining how we decided what as important to monitor as well as the the methods, rationale, and initial results of three years of study. On this project, we monitored the response to restoration treatments using repeated aerial imagery and topographic mapping, ground photopoints, continual measurement of water level using pressure transducers in arrays of shallow wells, water temperature sensors, and simple ground surveys to quantify several biological and geomorphological metrics. Acoustic monitoring was also employed to sample biodiversity. This case study provides a practical real-world example that we and others can learn from when planning how to monitor similar projects moving forward.

View Benjamin's Presentation Here.