A great example of beaver stewardship recently occurred in Caltrans District 5. A beaver had dammed a drainage, which was beginning to flood the adjacent roadbed of a new freeway project in Monterey County. Caltrans’ options were to do nothing, depredate the beaver or try out a pond leveler device.
After hearing a presentation on beaver ecology, history and non-lethal management options by The WATER Institute and Swift Water Design, Caltrans staff decided to submit a proposal to contract Swift Water Design to install the pond leveler device. Through the hard work of Caltrans Environmental, Landscape, Construction, and Maintenance staff, this proposal was approved and the Department was able to implement an innovative solution to their flooding problem.
The decision to leave this beaver pond intact is significant as it supplies one of the few perennial sources of fresh water to wildlife in this area otherwise dominated by roads, housing and agriculture. Since the beaver arrived, federally listed Threatened California red-legged frog, federal/state Threatened California tiger salamander, Western pond turtle, waterfowl and many other species have been observed utilizing this lush habitat. Caltrans’ effort to conserve this critical habitat is commendable.