Here’s the link and below are excerpts.
If beaver will perform a useful hydrological function in an era of coming drought, does it matter how “native” they are? Do they have to have been shown (by whom? how many?) to be in a drainage, a watershed, a mountain range? If Kokanee are not native, should they not be celebrated?
If the “ecosystem” needs all species that were there at some point in the past, and yet the different species like different conditions, and managing the conditions to make sure they are all provided for takes lots of money, and neither California nor the Federal government is rife with money..
I found this discussion fascinating, because, like the fire issue, within the discussion is an idea “nativeness in the past” that is said to determine today’s policy.
The articles have caught the attention of the California Department of Fish and Game, which is re-examining its beaver policies in the Sierra, said Matt Meshiry, an environmental scientist with the department.
“If they are a native component, then we need to examine land use and species management … in terms of maintaining and preserving the ecosystem,” Meshiry said.
Pister, the retired fisheries biologist, is skeptical, saying beaver have harmed golden trout – the California state fish and a native species – in the eastern Sierra.
“We found beaver dams prevent migration and genetic interchange between populations while silting in the best food-producing and spawning areas,” he said. “Trout would grow larger in beaver ponds, but at a biological price.”
And of course, population differentiation from separation of populations, and interchange or migration, are both important evolutionary processes.
But this year, beavers built a dam not far from the facility, threatening to flood it and a trail. The Sierra Wildlife Coalition urged the Forest Service not to disturb the dam, suggesting a piping system be installed to permit water to flow through the dam, preventing flooding and protecting beaver – or that the level of the pathway be raised.
On Sept. 26, Forest Service crews dismantled the dam instead. The beaver weren’t harmed but Guzzi fears for their future.
“They have to stockpile food for the winter because they don’t hibernate,” she said. “So this is taking away their food. And they could starve.”
“It’s a strange corner for the Forest Service to be backed into because it’s all artificial,” Guzzi added. “It’s a little ironic, to say the least.”
Heck, the Forest Service spokeswoman, acknowledged the subject is challenging.
“There are a lot of complex issues,” she said. “Are you dealing with two non-native species and balancing their needs? Are you balancing a native and a non-native? There has been quite a bit of conversation.”
She also said dismantling the dam was the right decision.
“Essentially, we were hoping we could discourage them (the beaver) from rebuilding in that location while allowing downstream dams to persist.”
“It’s one thing to suggest things. It’s another to be the entity that has to implement solutions,” Heck added. “We have to look at what the maintenance load would be (and) whether it’s actually going to work.”
Also up for discussion is the focus of the popular fall festival on a non-native species.
“It does take some thought about how to shift an event like that,” Heck said. “What would that new theme be? How are we going to talk about both the kokanee and native species?”
It’s strange that all these folks, most of whom contain large numbers of non-native genes, are having this discussion. Somehow it seems to have gotten into folks’ understanding that non-natives are undesirable. Some are, but we need to decide which ones, and agree on why they are undesirable, if so, what can we do about it, can we afford it, and will it work- not judge a species solely on its ancestry.