Watch and Learn

Trout Unlimited recently published a short article by Crystal Elliot, TU’s Washington state habitat director, titled “Mimicking beavers improves trout habitat.” In it, Elliot writes, “The emerging restoration technique of mimicking beaver dams with beaver dam analogs (BDAs) is booming in popularity because of its effectiveness, relative ease of construction, adaptability, and low cost.”

My regular job involves promoting Indigenous land-based knowledge, often called in academia “Traditional Ecological Knowledge” or “TEK.” This knowledge is typically rooted in observations of the non-human world that are passed down, interpreted, and applied over many generations by members of Indigenous communities. Often, I find hard scientists to be the most receptive to collaborations with these communities, that incorporate such knowledge. In fact, some of the collaborations that come to mind have involved beavers, and were led by a Native American professor.

It is encouraging to see fisheries scientists looking toward non-human models of trout stream restoration. Sometimes the best solutions to a problem are those that have worked in the past. The Western obsession with human ingenuity sometimes distracts us from this fact.

The video accompanying Elliots’s article is below.

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