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"Keith, why does Game and Fish build beaver dams?"

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department does build structures called beaver dam analogs. These structures function as beaver dams but do not have beaver actively building and repairing the structure. They work the same way beaver dams do by creating ponds, raising the water table underground, slowing floodwaters, improving streamside vegetation and catching sediment so that it does not dump into an important water source.

 
The Bolton Creek Riparian Restoration project is an example of a beaver dam analog project in the Casper area. Here, we installed beaver dam analogs to enhance the function of this creek and to minimize sediment dumping into the North Platte River, which will protect a world-class trout fishery.  Following a major winter storm in the Casper area in October of 2013 that broke tree limbs throughout the city, Game and Fish used the limbs (after being mulched) to install beaver dam analogs into Bolton Creek. These artificial beaver dams will be maintained until there is enough desirable vegetation, such as cottonwood trees and willows, available to support a larger beaver population.  By raising the water table and improving the streamside vegetation, all wildlife will benefit from minnows to warblers to mule deer.  In just a few years, these beaver dam analogs have already improved the function of Bolton Creek while allowing for a substantial amount of willow and cottonwood regeneration!

Keith Schoup
Casper Region Habitat Biologist

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