Beavers to prevent wildfires? Conservationists are enlisting the help of these buck-toothed rodents

“[Beavers] are storing an enormous amount of water in the landscape. And then when you do have an ignition event, whether that’s a match or a campfire or a power line … it’s harder to burn,” says Emily Fairfax, professor of environmental science and resource management at CSU Channel Islands. Photo by Shutterstock.

As California continues to grapple with a mega-drought and wildfires, we’re trying to do whatever we can to help our parched landscapes and abate that wildfire threat. But the process can be costly and time-consuming. 

A few weeks ago, the Sacramento Bee reported on a floodplain in Placer County. During California’s last big drought in 2014, ecologists wanted to restore the dry, barren grassland. It would’ve taken 10 years and cost as much as $2 million. But there was another option: beavers. 

Conservationists turned the buck-toothed, oversized rodents loose and got out of their way. And unlike every other contractor on the planet, they finished under budget and ahead of schedule.

Credits

Guest:

  • Emily Fairfax - professor of environmental science and resource management at CSU Channel Islands