Using beavers and community partnerships for restoration

Water flows in tributaries of the South Platte River Basin (Colorado, USA) are variable and ephemeral, with many reaches dry for large portions of the year and historical channelization exacerbating this problem. We initiated a watershed improvement project in 2015, installing three in-stream structures to improve hydrology. In addition to improved plant and animal habitat, restoring flows provides longer water storage in the system and increases the duration of flow. We planted over 1500 willows, cottonwoods, and other native riparian species and initiated a long-term monitoring program.

Based on the success of this minimally-invasive technique, we are working to expand this technique to other areas. The project’s success can be attributed to taking a holistic approach to restoration and engaging a broad group of community stakeholders. Engaging urban high school and university students, we are educating young citizens about ecosystem health and training the next generation of conservation biologists. By Rebecca Hufft from Denver Botanic Gardens.