A Guide to Advocating for Beaver Restoration in National Forest Plans

  • Sarah Bates (National Wildlife Federation), Taylor Simpson and Taylor Heggen (University of Montana Alexander Blewitt III College of Law), and Lowell Chandler (University of Montana W.A. Franke College of Forestry & Conservation)
  • Sep 21, 2021
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A Guide to Advocating for Beaver Restoration in National Forest Plans offers guidance for public engagement in the national forest planning process to ensure that newly revised plans include affirmative and proactive language around beavers and beaver habitat restoration.

National forest plans set the overall management direction for a given forest and provide guidance for the design and execution of specific management actions. As the pace, scale, and magnitude of climate change has become increasingly evident, there is an urgent need for these plans to explicitly address the impacts and implications of a rapidly changing climate, and offer solutions to build resilience and ecological integrity.

And while there are many components and outcomes of national forest plans, this guide focused on how these plans can help protect and restore ecological integrity by expanding the range of existing beaver populations in national forests, encouraging nonlethal controls to address conflicts with culverts and other human-built structures, and—where appropriate and supported by best available science—reintroducing beavers in suitable habitat. This guide provides both resources and sample language for individuals and organizations wishing to ensure that beaver restoration is included in ongoing forest plan revisions. We focus in particular on the western forests where beavers provide “natural climate solutions” by building dams that restore groundwaters, connect floodplains, and expand wetlands and riparian habitat—in short, creating a more resilient landscape in a warming West.

Reviewing and commenting on a forest plan can be intimidating, given the document’s size, complexity, and breadth of topics. But you don’t need to be an expert to provide meaningful feedback, nor should you feel the need to comment on each and every plan element. By sharing your values and concerns, and by flagging parts of the plan where you see opportunities for improvement—as well as providing positive feedback for strong provisions in the draft plan—you will advance and inform a dialogue that helps support the development and implementation of more effective forest plans, supporting better management decisions for years to come.

A Guide to Advocating for Beaver Restoration in National Forest Plans benefited from the involvement and input of a number of individuals and organizations. We would particularly like to thank the students engaged in the University of Montana Natural Resources Law Clinic under the supervision of Professor Sandi Zellmer for conducting much of the research on which the guide was based. We are also grateful for review and suggestions from the following individuals: Michael Anderson (The Wilderness Society), Prof. Martin Nie (University of Montana), Jon Haber (U.S. Forest Service, ret.), Lizzy Mckeag (Idaho Wildlife Federation), and Andrew Jakes (National Wildlife Federation). This guide complements, and is organized similarly to, the publication A Guide to Advocating for Climate-Smart Restoration in National Forest Plans, available at nwf.org/ClimateSmartForestPlans.

A Guide to Advocating for Beaver Restoration in National Forest Plans


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