Winter storms hurt Central Coast beaver populations
The recent winter storms on the Central Coast didn’t just affect humans — they've also damaged the habitat of the local beaver population.
Audrey Taub is the Executive Director of the SLO Beaver Brigade, who describe themselves as “beaver advocates.” It’s a group of local biologists, science enthusiasts and community members who educate people about the rodents and the role they play in our ecosystem.
While talking and teaching about beavers is often a joyful experience, Taub said there has been some sad news recently about local beaver populations.
“The big rains pretty much washed everything out. This particular storm definitely displaced them," Taub said.
"We found one dead juvenile. So they really can't live on their own until they’re at least two. So these one-year-olds just didn't have a chance.”
Taub said after the heavy rain, local beavers will have to rebuild their dams in places like streams and ponds. She said it's not clear how long that will take, but she's "excited for the whole community to watch the ponds develop,” Taub said.
Beavers play a major role in fighting climate change by building dams, which helps create and restore wetlands.
That’s important, because it’s estimated that globally, wetlands can store about 190 million cars’ worth of emissions every year.
Cooper Lienhart is the SLO Beaver Brigade’s Restorations Director.
“I used to think we would engineer our way out of the problem and make synthetic trees to suck CO2 back out of the atmosphere. But yeah, I learned that wetlands are [the] most efficient land ecosystem at absorbing and storing CO2,” Lienhart said.
Last week the SLO Beaver Brigade received the California Coastal Commission’s WHALE TAIL grant. Taub and Lienhart said the money will be used to offer educational tours, river cleanups, and translations for Spanish-speakers interested in learning about beavers.
More information on the emissions-fighting rodents is online at slobeaverbrigade.com.