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Can Beavers Help Save Los Angeles From Drought and Floods??

Years of drought have plagued California, and though rains are supposedly on the way, they might pose their own problems, like mudslides and flooding. Offering a possible solution to issues of both too much and not enough water is Britt Sheflin, a private chef who has applied for a $100,000 grant from LA2050 and the Goldhirsch Foundation to "Strategically reintroduce native beaver populations back into the dwindling watersheds around LA County," using techniques that would have the beavers "trained" to build their trademark dams where they're needed, while keeping them from being destructive.

The return of the beaver, Sheflin argues, could help mitigate drought (like the one California is in now) and erosion, plus help cut back on flash floods (which Los Angeles might be having more of if the predicted El Niño shows up). Sound too good to be true? Sheflin says it's been tried and it's worked in Canada, Nevada, and elsewhere in California, though she notes that Los Angeles would be "the first major metropolitan area to embrace this cost-effective solution." There's more here on how beavers can help out in a drought—researchers in Canada have found that "Even during drought, where beaver were present, there was 60 per cent more open water than those same areas during previous drought periods when beaver were absent."

The grant, which was open to the public, will be given out for ideas that would help make LA a healthier place to live. Sheflin says her plan will do that; by bringing back the North American beaver (a native beaver species) to LA County and using known techniques for managing them, LA could build a foundation that would grow to mean more water, less flooding, and even restoration of wildlife habitats around their dams. Simply put, the plan is to put some beavers out there and then do intensive weekly, monthly, and yearly surveying of their progress—checking water volumes, animal populations, and soil vitality at their dam sites. And then more and more beavers can start moving in: "as soon as one colony is established and proven effective, another one can be introduced, tracked, and monitored."

There are six days left for voting on this and the 70 other proposals for the $100,000 grant.
· Effective Drought Solutions [LA2050/GOOD]
· Mapping How an El Niño Winter Could Create Massive Flooding in Pasadena [Curbed LA]