In January 2023, Boise State with funding from NASA hosted a daylong workshop focused on beaver rewilding and other mesic ecosystem restoration projects. The primary purpose of the workshop was to gather practitioners of mesic ecosystem restoration from around the state and co-produce knowledge about how to monitor the impacts of beaver rewilding from space (i.e. using satellites).
Mesic ecosystems include streams and rivers, riverscapes, riparian zones, wetlands, floodplains and wet meadows. Mesic ecosystem restoration encompasses a wide range of activities, including floodplain reconstruction, riparian vegetation restoration, beaver mimicry structures and beaver translocation. These projects share a common goal of restoring natural ecological processes, and in particular, reconnecting a stream/river channel with its floodplain.
The workshop included 20 participants from around the state attended, including representatives from:
- Idaho Fish and Game
- Bureau of Land Management
- US Fish and Wildlife
- The Nature Conservancy
- Trout Unlimited
- Wood River Valley Land Trust
- Henry’s Fork Foundation
The Boise State researchers together with workshop participants interpreted satellite data in the context of specific on-the-ground rewilding and restoration projects. The workshop also explored the social aspects of beaver rewilding, including motivations, challenges and opportunities, and included a “lighting talk” session about emerging resources for beaver rewilding efforts.
Participants that attended the workshop said that they appreciated the hands-on approach of the workshop, networking opportunities, the opportunity to share ideas and knowledge and ability to see how they could apply the workshop findings to their own research.
In the future, researchers plan to publish two Google Earth Engine “apps” that anyone can use to monitor changes in water and wetlands in a specific location. They will also be holding online workshops for how to use photo monitoring and satellite-based apps for restoration monitoring. Anyone interested in participating can contact email@example.com to get on the email list.