Beaver Power: Teaming Up With Nature’s Engineers to Restore Our Watersheds

by | SOP 14

with Margaret Neuman & Jeanette Burkhardt

Date & Time: Nov. 15th, 2023 at 7 pm

Location: Columbia Center for the Arts, 215 Cascade Ave, Hood River, OR

Lecture Description:

Foe or friend? Beavers have a long and complicated history in the Pacific Northwest. In Oregon, the Beaver State, they are considered a predatory species. In both Oregon and Washington, people may kill beavers with minimal regulation. Wide-scale trapping in the Pacific Northwest nearly extirpated beavers in the mid-1800s in support of a booming, transatlantic fur trade. In modern times, beavers can quickly wreak havoc by downing trees and flooding roads and property. But despite all this, beavers are getting increasing support for the positive impacts they have on watersheds and ecosystems. From wildfires to climate change, a growing body of research is highlighting how this ecosystem engineer can help us respond to some of our greatest natural challenges. When it comes to landscape restoration, instead of a nuisance, new science is redefining beavers as a keystone species that can inspire and even assist in restoring damaged streams and improving habitat for a variety of species.

Margaret Neuman and Jeanette Burkhardt will explore the regional history of this iconic mammal, its ecological importance, and the local work being done to understand beaver populations and promote our coexistence.

Speaker Bio:

As the Executive Director of Mid-Columbia Fisheries, Margaret Neuman has been a key part of growing the organization from a small start-up to an important regional partner in salmon recovery in Central Washington. Under Margaret’s leadership, Mid-Columbia Fisheries has implemented more than 90 salmon habitat restoration projects since 2005. The group also reaches more than 2,000 school students annually with field-based conservation education programs. Margaret has more than 30 years of experience in watershed restoration, including organizational, grant, and program management. Margaret helped found the Wishpush Working Group in 2018 and is excited about the benefit beavers provide in improving watershed conditions for fish, wildlife, and people. Margaret loves being in nature and is grateful to call the Columbia River Gorge home.

Jeanette Burkhardt has been working in Fisheries and Natural Resources in the Columbia Gorge for 20 years, the last 18 as a watershed planner for the Yakama Nation at the intersection of policy, planning, restoration, and education. Since 2018, she has been involved in the Wishpush Working Group, working towards more beaver-ful and resilient watersheds in the Tribe’s Southern Territories. As a self-professed plant nerd and admirer of the natural world, she has a personal and professional passion for letting nature do the work—supporting natural processes as they help us recover our impaired ecosystems and the species that depend on them.


Stop Motion Animation of Beaver power!