beavers also store lots of water for free, which is increasingly crucial in the parched West. And they don’t just help with drought. Their engineering subdues torrential floods from heavy rains or snowmelt by slowing water. It reduces erosion and recharges groundwater. And the wetlands beavers create may have the extra benefit of stashing carbon out of the atmosphere.
In addition to all that, the rodents do environmental double duty, because they also tackle another crisis unleashed by humans: rampant biodiversity loss. Their wetlands are increasingly recognized for creating habitat for myriad species, from salmon to sage grouse.
Beavers, you might say, are having a moment. In Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming, the Bureau of Land Management is working with partners to build beaver-like dams that they hope real beavers will claim and expand. In California, the new state budget designates about $1.5 million a year to restoring the animals for climate resiliency and biodiversity benefits.