Given the potential benefit of beaver to mountain meadow restoration and related focal species, OAEC WATER Institute conducted a beaver restoration feasibility assessment to aid in the Prioritizing Meadows for Restoration within the North Fork Kern River Drainage project led by California Trout. The goal of our beaver assessment was to identify which, if any, of the ten priority meadows would be good candidates for beaver restoration treatments as a means to achieve meadow restoration goals.
We analyzed historic and current distribution of beaver, relocation data and habitat suitability found in these meadows and watersheds adjacent to the North Fork Kern River watershed. Knowing where beaver have historically occurred, where they were transplanted, and where they persist in the region today gives us insights into what conditions they favor, the impacts they are currently having, how likely they would be to find these meadows on their own, and where beaver might be sourced were a relocation pilot deemed appropriate. We conducted field surveys to get the most accurate assessment of whether or not current conditions in these meadows could provide suitable habitat for beaver and used various tools to assess habitat suitability and dam building capacity of the riverscape.