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    Description

    Owyhee County, Idaho, covers much of the Owyhee Uplands, an arid landscape characterized by sagebrush habitat where cattle grazing is a dominant land use. Because this landscape is home to many sensitive sagebrush-obligate species as well as species that require high-quality riparian and aquatic habitat, it has garnered attention from state and federal wildlife agencies and various nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) interested in restoring and conserving habitat on working landscapes. The installation of beaver dam-like structures such as beaver dam analogues, and the reintroduction of beaver (Castor canadensis) through transloca-tion or natural recolonization, have been examined as possible tools to accomplish these objectives. The purpose of this exploratory study is to understand the opportunities and challenges associated with beaver-related restoration in Owyhee County rangeland systems. The findings presented here, based on interviews with 19 Owyhee County landowners, ranchers, and key stakeholders, suggest that there are opportunities for increasing restoration activities that incorporate beaver dam analogues and other beaver-related restoration techniques. Specifically, an overall positive perception of beavers on the part of interviewed producers (as long as the beavers stay away from irrigation infrastructure); the potential overlap between conservation goals and livestock production benefits of watershed restoration; the goodwill created by previous cooperative projects involving federal, state, NGO, and private entities; and the grant and cost-share funding opportunities available for beaver-related projects all point toward opportunities to reconcile restoration and cattle production interests. However, many challenges were also identified, such as concerns regarding regulations and liability—including the liability arising from the creation of threatened or endangered species habitat—and potential conflict regarding the degree and kind of grazing management changes that would be needed to set the stage for long-term riparian habitat improvement.

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    Citation

    Abrams, Jesse; Johnduff, Michael; Charnley, Susan. 2019. Beaver-related restoration in Owyhee County, Idaho: opportunities and challenges. Res. Pap. PNW-RP-611. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 21 p.

    Keywords

    Beaver, Columbia spotted frog, perceptions, ranching, rangeland, watershed restoration.

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https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/pubs/57634