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Yes, Beavers Can Help Stop Wildfires. And More Places in California Are Embracing Them

PUBLISHED MAR 26, 2024 10:04 A.M.
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A beaver dam and pond in the eastern Sierra.

A beaver dam and pond in the eastern Sierra.   Doug Meek, Shutterstock

The LA Times reports on new research that shows that beavers, which once thrived on rivers and streams throughout California and were hunted to near-extinction a century ago, are on the rebound.

One scientist's work shows how a patch of land north of Lake Tahoe, which had been “painstakingly engineered” by the “semi-aquatic rodents,” survived a megafire that destroyed the surrounding forest. A drone video accompanying the piece shows an island of lush greenery in a charred landscape.

“Beavers belong in California, and they should be part of our fire management plan,” said Emily Fairfax, assistant professor of geography at the University of Minnesota, who shot the drone footage of a series of beaver ponds along Little Last Chance Creek that remained green in the wake of the 2021 Beckwourth Complex fire.

Fairfax’s recent research found that beavers’ skills are useful even in the face of megafires like the Beckwourth — a 105,000-acre behemoth whose burn scar joined with that of the Dixie fire, which started weeks later and burned more than 960,000 neighboring acres.

“They basically build up an ecosystem that’s resilient to fire through the vegetation mosaic, then keep it really well watered so it never dries out, never becomes easy to burn,” she said.

Read “Yes, beavers can help stop wildfires. And more places in California are embracing them,” on

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