We were beavers for the week! On May 31st we made the 8-hour journey to Hot Springs, South Dakota where we were introduced to our project partner with the South Dakota Nature Conservancy. She taught us the basics of low-tech, process-based restoration and the importance of watershed reparation. In an effort to create safe, welcome environments for beavers (a keystone species), we constructed beaver dam analogs and post-assisted log structures. These structures were meant to slow down the flow of the stream, thereby raising the water table, controlling erosion, and promoting biodiversity.
Over 7 days we waded through waist deep water (only occasionally wearing waders), lugged around an 80 pound hydraulic post pounder, and almost lost a rain boot in the mud all in the name of conservation. And it was so worth it! We were able to see the effects of our BDAs almost immediately and observed evidence of beavers all along the bank. We're hopeful that the biodiversity of Cottonwood and Spring Creek will continue to improve from our mesic restoration efforts.