Letter to the editor: Beavers support healthy ecosystems

As the self-appointed czaress of promoting beaver restoration in our Grand County, I was so pleased to read the article by Heather Sackett on this subject in Pitkin County, printed in our Sky-Hi News. I have previously stated that too much cannot be said about the prominence of beaver in supporting healthy river systems.

However, Colorado Senate Bill 270, to which Ms. Sackett refers, did pass, albeit in a watered-down version, stating that restoration projects cannot cause water to flow out of current channels, due to ponding water evaporation and possible effects on downstream water rights. This is just what beaver naturally do with their dams, as do man-made beaver dam analogues (BDAs). But that is the point of stream/river/aquifer restoration.

If those engineers from the Colorado Division of Water Resources believe beaver ponds are creating so much evaporation, do they also believe all beaver should be eradicated? Man-made reservoirs create much more evaporation, and in our headwaters, any evaporation merely supports the natural cycle of evaporation, transpiration condensation, precipitation, infiltration and runoff. So beaver actually augment our rain/snow levels.

I spoke to Colorado Sen. Dylan Roberts about this misguided attitude at our Grand County Dems Fun-Raiser event last week. He understood precisely what I was saying and promised that improvements to the bill would be forthcoming, but the current form was all they could muster.

As the bill stands, I do believe river projects that stabilize banks and create some healthy meandering would be allowed but it is the flooding that creates the beneficial riparian areas supporting wildlife and fire breaks. 

Our county would also do well to support a beaver assessment program.

Ingrid Karlstrom
Grand County resident

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