Earlier this week I went to St. Matthews for a story about beavers that have made their home in Draut Park. City council members had initially had concerns about the beavers.
Beavers do cause damage to trees and other vegetation—they build their dam and lodge from woody materials, and they eat leaves and nibble bark off twigs. And their dams can exacerbate flooding. But overall, science tends to agree that beavers are beneficial for a community. Here are four reasons you might want beavers in your park:
- Inexpensive wetland restoration. There used to be about 220 million acres of wetlands in the United States back in the 1600s. By 1997, according to the EPA, more than half of that area was lost to development. Wetlands are important ecosystems, and when beavers build dams they create and enhance existing wetlands.
- Natural water purification. Some beaver dams can actually act as filters and improve the water quality downstream, as forestry.com notes. “Old upstream beaver dams act as a silt depository that in turn filters the water passing through it by breaking down toxins and pesticides rendering the water downstream from these dams much cleaner.”
- Flood prevention (sometimes). Beaver dams can definitely exacerbate flooding, but they can also help control water flow. According to the non-profit Beavers: Wetlands and Wildlife: “because beaver dams create mini-reservoirs that keep water on the land longer, they can alleviate both droughts and regional floods.”
- Increased biodiversity. As 17-year-old Ian Timothy noted in my story earlier this week, the presence of beavers in a pond creates a habitat that’s hospitable to lots of other wildlife. North Carolina Cooperative Extension notes that beaver dams supply breeding areas for amphibians and fish, as well as encourage the presence of birds and reptiles.