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Video with transcript

Researchers Partner with Ranchers, Beavers and NASA

Video Transcript

(birdsong) (light, acoustic music)

[Jay Wilde]: As a kid growing up, we had this stream. This birch creek was always a perennial stream. And when I came back after being gone for 30 years, it was just intermittent And I’’m sitting at my kitchen table one morning, and it dawned on me that there was no longer any beavers here. Nothing in the watershed as far as beaver ponds or activity. And I got to wondering, maybe them beaver deal is something that I need to look into. So I started reading and learning about beavers and the more I learned, the more it made sense that we need ‘em. Cows have got to have two things: they got to have something to eat and something to drink. So it didn’t matter what I did as far as improving the production of forage for the cows, if I didn’t have water, it just didn’t do us any good.

(four wheeler engine revving)

[Joe Wheaton]: What is beaver restoration? Well, who’s doing it really is the beaver, and then there’s a bunch of us that are trying to, you know, either mimic what they do or set things up so they can take over. (chainsaw revving) There’s examples in the late 1800s, early 1900s of folks recognizing that when beaver were removed from the landscape, that we had undesirable things happening to the streams and tried to get beaver back in. The work that we were doing this morning was about trying to attract and lure beaver. And what we’re seeing up here in terms of then taking, you know, we built 25 fake beaver dams and now there’s well over 200 of them. We treated a half kilometer. Now they’re covering five kilometers. And so what we’re trying to do today is sort of help people see that sort of progression, right? Like downstream, we’re just throwing sticks in the stream. Why are we doing it? What are we trying to attract? We’re trying to attract beaver to do the work for us and then to keep that going.

(light, upbeat music)

[Jodi Brandt]:What we’re trying to do is we’re trying to link this restoration process of beaver rewilding. We’re trying to track that with satellite imagery. So there’s satellites launched by NASA that are up in space and collecting data continuously all across the landscape. And so the premise of our project is we’re going to track the beaver rewilding process using these satellite images.

(light acoustic music)

For folks who are actually implementing beaver rewilding, they have to put a ton of resources into monitoring the effects of beaver rewilding. So they have to hike to remote places and they have to do that multiple times per year. And so a lot of times that monitoring is not even really happening because it’s just too labor and time intensive. So we can help agencies understand what’s going on in the landscape and the impacts of the beaver rewilding, because we’re basically monitoring using this freely available satellite imagery.

[Cindy Schmidt]: The way NASA funding works is that we have a panel of people that review all the proposals that come in. And the projects had to have sort of three different elements. One was, of course, the use of remote sensing data. So satellite imagery that NASA produces. Two, it had to focus on rewilding. And three, we had to also have in situ or in place biological observations. And so this project had all of those things. And honestly, most important of all was connection with end users that could use the products from this project or the apps that are being created for decision making.

[Nick Kolarik]: I guess I’m really excited about the… being part of the discussion of partnering with wildlife. You know, a lot of the discussion is human wildlife conflicts, but this is actually the opposite. We’re partnering with the beavers to help restore these landscapes to how they once operated. And I think that the beavers are kind of this keystone, maybe, that are not often discussed. You know, they shaped the landscape for
millennia prior to their extirpation. Since then, everything’s kind of changed for the drier. And so we’re hoping that in partnering with beaver, we can really kind of make the wetter parts wet again.

(stream flowing)

[Jay]: After the beavers came in, we’re getting 42 days longer flow than what we had pre-beaver. So that’s pretty valuable. You know, from my standpoint, it makes our property more accessible for grazing for the cattle.

[Jodi]: Even though most of the time I’m at Boise State University and in the classroom, a part of my time, I get to come out to places like this in Idaho and see how my work may benefit people who live here and work here. And I think the largest benefit that this project overall could have is to provide more attention on this topic. That there’s Idahoans who are doing this awesome kind of work that is improving the landscape. And by our involvement, we hope to both understand what’s happening better, but also bring more attention to some of these folks who are really doing the work on the ground and making Idaho a better place to live.

(light, upbeat music) (birdsong)