Opinion: Volunteers needed to help address beaver issues in Dredge Creek system

We’re looking for volunteers to work with one or two others for an hour or two once or twice a week.

  • By Mary F. Willson
  • Tuesday, September 6, 2022 12:06pm
  • Opinion

Beavers have inhabited the Dredge Creek system in the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area for decades. Their activity can lead to flooded trails and reduced fish passage (particularly coho salmon). Volunteers formed the Beaver Patrol to address these issues, managing beavers’ effects with concern for all parts of the ecosystem. We are a registered nonprofit organization that operates under a Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Forest Service, which is in charge of the MGRA.

What do we do? We monitor water flow from the source (not far from the visitor center) to the Mendenhall River, removing dam materials from culverts to keep the water flowing. We’ve built some small fences near culverts to exclude beaver activity. We open notches in some dams, letting water out, to reduce trail flooding or improve fish passage. We may rebuild some dams to restore a pond, after high water or unauthorized human actions tear out major parts of a beaver dam. Among other things, our long-term data provided evidence that the beaver population in the MGRA has not increased in recent years but rather fluctuates around some basic number of active lodges.

Like all management plans, this one is a compromise. Exceptionally heavy rains overwhelm the usual routes for water and trails get flooded—but briefly and less deeply. A sudden spate of dam-building might delay fish passage, but only briefly. Overall, the system continues to function quite well, appreciated by many hikers and dog walkers.

We are looking for new volunteers to work with one or two others for an hour or two once or twice a week. Our active field-work season runs from ice-out (about April) to ice-up (about November). We regularly check culverts, fences, and dams, removing sticks and vegetation as needed. Waders or rubber boots needed. If you can help, meet us in the Forest Service parking lot off the Back Loop at 9 a.m.on Sundays or arrange another time by emailing me (maryfwillson@gmail.com) and we will welcome you.

• Mary F. Willson is a retired ecologist and Beaver Patrol president.

More in Opinion

Opinion: An answer to ‘is America losing its mind?’

Personally, I think our motto should be, “Liberty and Justice for All.”

Have something to say?

Here’s how to add your voice to the conversation.

A sign on the Douglas Highway advertises a home for sale on Thursday, June 2, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Mandatory disclosure is a policy that protects taxpayer

Misinformation about mandatory disclosure and how property tax works has been spreading.

Alexander B. Dolitsky
Opinion: American leftism — is America losing its mind?

In addition, far-left progressives are not as they think of themselves.

A fore sale sign hangs outside of a Juneau residence. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Real estate sales disclosure promotes fairness

I’m really not so worried about the city government knowing what we paid for our house.

This photo shows a ballot drop box at Don D. Statter Harbor. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Opinion: Say no to Prop 4 — your home price isn’t really private anyway

The city’s disclosure rule doesn’t compromise your privacy — it just democratizes access to information.

(Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Opinion: Taxation and inflation threaten habitation

At some point, you’ve paid enough taxes/ you have done your share.

Signs urging attendees of a Saturday football game to vote in favor of Proposition 2 sit on a chair on the track at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Opinion: I’m a former player and current coach supporting Prop 2

This is very personal to me – for several reasons.

Most Read