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    This case study was developed as part of a larger, interdisciplinary research project to assess the social, hydrological, and ecological effects of beaver-related watershed restoration approaches in rangeland streams of the Western United States. It is one of five case studies being undertaken to investigate the social context of beaver- (Castor canadensis) related restoration in western rangelands. Research in the Bridge Creek watershed of the John Day River basin has found that beaver dam analogues (BDAs) improved habitat for fish listed under the Endangered Species Act, garnering interest from private landowners and public land managers seeking to mitigate anthropogenic habitat loss for sensitive and threatened species such as salmonids (Oncorhynchus spp.), greater sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus), and Columbia spotted frogs (Rana luteiventris). Researchers who published the studies on BDAs in Bridge Creek are providing technical advice to stakeholders through workshops and guidance documents. Regulating BDAs is a complex process because permitting rules are not well defined, and dams carry a stigma owing to a long history of water diversion for irrigation and cattle that can impede fish passage and alter water delivery. Soil and water conservation districts and watershed councils now act as intermediaries to help landowners navigate the BDA permitting and installation process. Funding agencies that support restoration work are beginning to grant financial support to BDA projects, citing results from the ongoing Bridge Creek research. Some ranchers are interested in the ability of BDAs to restore incised streams and prolong streamflow, and are starting to use BDAs to improve the health of riparian areas. Beaver population recovery may occur following the installation of BDAs on agricultural lands, and the idea of intentionally encouraging beavers to return is met with skepticism by some landowners. Understanding and addressing ranchers’ concerns can help pave the way for this tool to be more widely implemented in rangeland ecosystems.

    Publication Notes

    • Visit PNW's Publication Request Page to request a hard copy of this publication.
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    Davee, Rachael; Gosnell, Hannah; Charnley, Susan. 2019. Using beaver dam analogues for fish and wildlife recovery on public and private rangelands in eastern Oregon. Res. Pap. PNW-RP-612. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 29 p.


    Bridge Creek, beaver dam analogue, BDA, ranchers, watershed restoration.

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