Seminar on Beaver and Water

September 10, 2020 - 3:30 PM
Hatfield Marine Science Center

Beaver dam.\Photo courtesy of MidCoast Watersheds Council.

The online version of the Hatfield Marine Science Center research seminar series continues on Thursday, Sept. 10, at 3:30 p.m. with a talk by Kami Ellingson, Watershed Program Manager with the Siuslaw National Forest.  Her topic: “Valuing Water: Learning from the past to add resilience to our future.”  The event is free and open to all.

Before1950 there were millions of beavers across the United States.  Based on reports from early explorers, complex wetlands were everywhere, making navigation difficult.  European settlement in the 17th to 20th centuries resulted in a transition from shallow multi-channeled streams and complex wetlands to deep single-thread channels with gravel bottoms and high fine-grained banks disconnected from flat, dry, valley wide floodplains. This transition was due in part to active development and drainage of desirable flat developable land close to water used for navigation, but also as a passive result of trapping beavers out, which caused the failure of large stable wetland complexes and an unraveling of pre-European-settlement conditions, before anyone was really paying attention. When beaver dams fail, stream velocities increase, resulting in more erosion. This vicious cycle of stream-channel incision, more scouring, and further deepening of the stream itself, disconnects the stream from its floodplain and lowers the water table.  This results in a self-perpetuating flood and drought cycle exacerbating each condition year after year.

For the live broadcast of this virtual seminar, visit or call +1-971-247-1195 US Meeting ID: 945 5573 1151.