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VIDEO

Habitat & Stream Restoration

In the Little Wood drainage, west of Bellevue, Idaho was the site of the 2018 Sharps Fire. This massive wildfire burned 65,000 acres of rangeland. What was once sweeping rangeland habitat for wildlife, including sage-grouse, and grazing land for livestock was engulfed in flames.

And yet, out of that tragedy came some fascinating discoveries. Aerial images after the fire revealed some emerald green oases that the fire seemed to have skipped over all together.

After some investigation, we determined that the green patches that survived the fire were inhabited by beaver. Either existing beaver dams, or the sites of old beaver dams, that have created ponds and floodplain and were still marshy and filled with lush vegetation.

Now, we are creating human-made beaver habitat post-fire to create diverse habitats that will welcome back the mammals and birds that used this land.

These structures – made of pounded posts interwoven with willow branches – mimic the work that beavers do by creating pools and capturing water and sediment. Without this kind of rehabilitation, these little tributaries would slice deeper and deeper into the fire-damaged hills, creating steep banks that can’t hold riparian vegetation. The water would move faster through the landscape, increasing the sediment that is carried down to the Little Wood River and subsequent reservoirs. This type of restoration is becoming more popular, because it can bring back floodplain areas, complex habitat, and create wet meadows that are important for sage-grouse and other wildlife.

Our hope is that these stream restoration projects could create even more fire resilience in the future. We are restoring this land for tributary health and to accommodate the animals that need it now, but we are also hoping that in the face of a changing climate; that these restoration sites will prove as resilient as the beaver-inhabited sites did in 2018.

Of course, the Wood River Land Trust isn’t doing this alone. Along with our partners, we have been working to protect and restore the land that connects the Wood River Valley over to the Craters of the Moon National Monument to create a large migration and habitat corridors that also preserve historic rangeland and rural culture. A project on this scale is only possible because of the many partners that help make it happen.

SCOTT SHAHVERDIAN

Project Manager - Anabranch Solutions

MERIBETH
LOMKIN

Lands Manager - Idaho Dept. Of Lands

TERRY
GREGORY

Habitat Biologist - Idaho Dept. Fish & Game

JOSH
URIARTE

Wildlife Biologist - Govs. Office Of Species Conservation

In addition to these four partners, we’d also like to thank

  • The Nature Conservancy

  • The Conservation Fund

  • Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation

  • US Fish and Wildlife Service

  • Idaho Wildlife Federation

  • Flat Top Sheep Company

  • Muldoon Grazing Association

  • University of Idaho

  • BLM

  • Idaho Conservation Corps

  • The smattering of staff and volunteers that came to lend some extra muscle!

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