Exciting news! Rangers Josh Crosbie and Keith Gray recently observed a beaver dam at Maxwell Farms Regional Park. Beavers are important “ecosystem engineers” that help create habitat for other species.
Beavers are also a “keystone species,” which means they have a disproportionately positive influence on the species and environment around them. Beavers help sequester carbon and aid with groundwater recharging. Beavers can also help create natural fire breaks on the landscape.
Natural Resources staff Sheila Murphy, Aleta Parseghian, Minona Heaviland and Len Mazur have since identified additional beaver signs in the area including downed trees, a lodge and bank burrows in Sonoma Creek. (Part of the complex is shown above.) And this just in: Beaver kits (babies) have been spotted!
We’ve placed wildlife cameras — funded by Measure M Parks for All — in the area. Cameras have already captured an array of other critters — raccoons, fish, egrets, skunks, deer, etc. — using the beaver dam in their day-to-day activities.
We’re working with local experts to share the news with the public, while ensuring we do not disrupt the beavers with too much human presence. If you’re lucky enough to come across beaver activity during one of your outings, please be respectful and observe and photograph them from a distance. As always, for the safety of wildlife and of your pet, keep dogs on leash.
Read more about why beavers are so important. Or listen about how beavers can help solve the climate crisis.
Our observations are timely as the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is initiating a statewide Beaver Restoration Program to “support and manage this native keystone species through the implementation of nature-based solutions.”
Locally, the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center launched the “Bring Back the Beaver Campaign” to educate the public about the importance of these amazing animals. The photo of North American beavers is courtesy of the organization. — Sheila Murphy, Natural Resources