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3 September 2020 Ranchers and Beavers: Understanding the Human Dimensions of Beaver-Related Stream Restoration on Western Rangelands
Susan Charnley, Hannah Gosnell, Rachael Davee, Jesse Abrams
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The past decade has seen a rapid rise in beaver-related stream restoration (BRR) using beavers and beaver dams (real or artificial) as a tool. Potential benefits of this low-cost, nature-based restoration approach include restoring aquatic and riparian habitat and recovering of threatened species dependent on it, improving water availability and stream flow regulation, reducing erosion and stream incision, and supporting climate change adaptation. Although the ecological restoration literature acknowledges the importance of addressing the human dimensions of restoration, there is a gap regarding the human dimensions of BRR. To help fill this gap we examined six projects involving riparian revegetation or artificial beaver dams to identify central elements of a supportive social environment for BRR on western rangelands. Our research questions examined how beavers, beaver dams, and BRR affect ranching operations and how ranchers view them; the policy context for BRR; and how BRR practitioners, regulatory agencies, ranchers, and partners work together for successful BRR. We synthesized our findings across cases and identified six social factors important for BRR: 1) ranchers who perceive the benefits of beavers, beaver dams, and BRR to outweigh the drawbacks; 2) education and assistance to help landowners adopt nonlethal mitigation techniques for nuisance beavers; 3) grazing practices compatible with BRR; 4) low harvest pressure on beavers; 5) a regulatory environment that enables experimentation, flexibility, and adaptive management; and 6) proponents, ranchers, and partners willing to take risks, innovate, be flexible, and stay committed.

Published by Elsevier Inc. on behalf of The Society for Range Management.
Susan Charnley, Hannah Gosnell, Rachael Davee, and Jesse Abrams "Ranchers and Beavers: Understanding the Human Dimensions of Beaver-Related Stream Restoration on Western Rangelands," Rangeland Ecology and Management 73(5), 712-723, (3 September 2020).
Received: 27 September 2019; Accepted: 24 April 2020; Published: 3 September 2020
Artificial beaver dam
Beaver dam analogue
Castor canadensis
ecological restoration
grazing management
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