Abstract

Across the American West, stream flows are becoming more seasonal. Climate models predict that this trend will intensify for the foreseeable future. As a result, moist habitats and human water sources are likely to be diminished in dry seasons while flows will intensify in wet seasons. Through their dam/pond systems, beaver have been shown to increase water storage in ponds and surrounding floodplains, thus slowing winter flows, increasing riparian and meadow water availability, and extending stream flow up to six weeks into dry summer seasons. Thus, allowing an increase in historically low beaver populations could provide a low-cost means of addressing both habitat and seasonality concerns. Yet, in Oregon, beaver are absent from the official discourses on adapting human systems and habitats to climate change. Through forty key informant interviews and an analysis of official policy and publications, this study identifies and critically examines five institutional blockages to beaver recolonization. That analysis clarifies the imprint of political pragmatism and institutional sub-cultures upon beaver presence in Oregon today.

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