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Winter storms hurt Central Coast beaver populations

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Tom Koerner/USFWS
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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.”

The SLO Beaver Brigade helped paint, "The Beaver Mural" on a local coffee shop they meet at once a week.
Gabriela Fernandez
The SLO Beaver Brigade helped paint, "The Beaver Mural" on a local coffee shop they meet at once a week.

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.

Gabriela Fernandez came to KCBX in May of 2022 as a general assignment reporter, and became news director in December of 2023. She graduated from Sacramento State with a BA in Political Science. During her senior year, she interned at CapRadio in their podcast department, and later worked for them as an associate producer on the TahoeLand podcast. When she's not writing or editing news stories, she loves to travel, play tennis and take her 140-lbs dog, Atlas, on long walks by the coast.
Benjamin Purper was News Director of KCBX from May of 2021 to September of 2023. He came from California’s Inland Empire, where he spent three years as a reporter and Morning Edition host at KVCR in San Bernardino. Dozens of his stories have aired on KQED’s California Report, and his work has broadcast on NPR's news magazines, as well. In addition to radio, Ben has worked as a newspaper reporter and freelance writer.
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