Did you know the Elbow River eventually drains into Hudson Bay?
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More than 350 years after a taste for fur hats nearly wiped out North America’s beaver population, landowners and ecologists have a new appetite for Castor canadensis. But this time, luckily for the beaver, we only want them for their work.
With their natural engineering skills for dam-building and water storage, beavers do an amazing job of creating diverse habitat. In fact, they’re so central to ecology that they’re known as a keystone species, one without whom whole ecosystems would – and have – failed. They’ve been shown to mitigate both flood and drought, raise water tables, regulate the flow of water and sediment in rivers and streams and help native fish populations. New research shows that their engineering work may also reduce damage from wildfires.
Beavers are the original watershed stewards. Photo: Miistakis Institute